Russians are famed for many things, but arguably none more so than their love of vodka. This tipple is said to have been first created in St Petersburg. To celebrate this long-standing Russian love, The Grand Hotel Europe in St Petersburg has created a vodka experience where guests will learn how to pair the Russian spirit with food, have a cocktail masterclass with the hotel’s head barman, and indulge in specially created vodka spa treatments.
First up comes the food pairing. The hotel’s executive chef will take vodka enthusiasts through the classic accompaniments of Astrakhan Beluga Caviar, marinated salmon, and strawberries with icing sugar. Once guests have let the knowledge seep in, they’ll then spend an evenign with the sommelier and learn how to create some of the most popular vodka based cocktails including, a Dirty Martini, Bloody Mary, Moscow Mule and White Russian. To finish, guests will be pampered with one of two vodka-based spa treatments designed to rid the body of unwanted toxins – the welcome to Russia vodka scrub or the vodka massage.
With the hotel’s lobby bar serving no less than 22 types of vodka, the Grand Hotel Europe really is the place to head if you want to indulge in a lengthy Russian session of vodka imbibing and zakuski devouring, or just buff up your knowledge of the traditional tipple.
The vodka experience is priced from £72 per person, and nightly rates start from £272 for a superior king room per night including taxes. Visit www.grandhoteleurope.com for more information.
Yet more airline route news! This April Rossiya Airlines is launching a new route between St. Petersburg and London Gatwick. Flights will be operated on Wednesday and Sundays but by May the number of flights is expected to increase to five a week – on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday. Departures from St. Petersburg fly at 11.30am and return at 12.50pm.
Going to Russia, while exciting, is always a bit of a hassle due to the visa restrictions. That was until now! A few weeks ago the St.Peter Line announced the opening of a new visa free ferry line, the “Stockholm – St. Petersburg”. Starting from April 2011 St.Peter Line expands its traffic to Stockholm by presenting the new cruise ferry “Princess Anastasia”, to be deployed on the Stockholm – Saint-Peterline, twice weekly.
The ship former Viking Line Pride of Bilbao, now the “Princess Anastasia”, has been extensively renovated and can accommodate up to 2353 passengers. The cruise ferry features 834 cabins of different types and price categories and a car deck which can accommodate up to 580 vehicles. The ferry will also feature a spacious SPA, Russian and European cuisine restaurants, authentic Russian shows of Music Hall cabaret, bars, discotheques and casino for onboard entertainment and multilingual services for the guests.
The estimated travel time from Stockholm to St Petersburg is 25 hours. As the schedule is made for the comfort of tourists, the new ferry line will be the most convenient and affordable way of traveling to Russia. Plus the weekend trips are scheduled to make stops in Tallinn on the way from Stockholm to Saint-Petersburg. Passengers from all over the world will be able to enjoy marvellous treasures of Russian North Capital Saint-Petersburg within 72 hours without Russian visa.
Passengers will then have an opportunity to stay in Saint-Petersburg from 1 to 3 days using hotel packages and both ships of St.Peter Line fleet. Book now!
I was excited to hear recently that the Royal Caribbean International’s Vision of the Seas cruise will be docking in St Petersburg! Price includes return flights from London Heathrow, transfers and a seven-night St. Petersburg cruise departing Oslo in Norway, and calling at St. Petersburg, Helsinki and Copenhagen, before returning to Oslo; meals and entertainment onboard and all relevant cruise taxes/fees.
The 2,435-guest Vision of the Seas has a soothing day spa, two pools, six whirlpools and the Masquerade Theatre, which features nightly entertainment like contemporary musical stage productions. Some of the ship’s highlights include a rock-climbing wall, themed bars and lounges, onboard casino and fitness centre. But forget what’s onboard, think about the fantastic places you’ll be visiting! Aside from Oslo, Helsinki and Copenhagen you’ll be treated to the rich cultural heritage of St Petersburg. Founded by Peter the Great in the eighteenth century, St Petersburg has survived imperial dictators, war, multiple name changes, revolution and communism. To this day the elegant façades, glorious cathedrals and grand residences continue to dwarf any other European city. St Petersburg truly is the Venice of the north.
Price, £807.00 per person, is based on two people sharing an inside cabin and departing on 25 June 2011. For more information or to book visit www.royalcaribbean.co.uk, call 0844 493 2061 or talk to your travel agent.
This April the famous GUM department store in Moscow, whose long façade faces Red Square, will host “Inside Moschino,” a retrospective following the Italian brand through the years, from its foundation to the present day. A declared celebration of Moschino’s evolution from its beginnings until the S/S 2010 collection, told through its clothes and accessories, ad campaigns and boutique window displays.
Promoted by Bosco dei Ciliegi, Moschino’s exclusive partner in Russia with two boutiques in Moscow and one in St. Petersburg, the exhibition is housed in the central arcade of GUM with an installation that recreates the entire Moschino world. It starts from the Moschino studio spaces in Milan continuing on to the boutiques, in a faithful reproduction of all the rooms and even including a literal recreation of the doors and windows. The installation is open; in fact, there is no barrier separating the Moschino world from its visitors. They are free to observe how Moschino creativity comes to life and can participate in what takes place behind the scenes of the studio. Furthermore, each visitor will be able to be in direct contact with the collections, the ad campaign images and the window displays.
The window display scenes on exhibit will include two of Moschino’s unforgettable installations: “Assi e Ferri da Stiro” [Ironing Boards and Irons], displayed for the first time at the Moschino boutique on Via Durini in Milan in February 1999; and the recent “Lace,” featured in the window of the boutique on Via Sant’Andrea in Milan in February 2010. Also, the “Ape Piaggio” display, created for the opening of the Paris boutique in February 2003, and “Pigeons,” from the windows of Milan’s La Rinascente department store in Piazza Duomo in February 2009.
At the centre of the exhibition is a selection of clothes and accessories starting from the historical archives to the more recent collections of Moschino, Moschino CheapAndChic and Love Moschino. In fact, the collections and accessories start with “Borsa-casa” (Autumn/Winter 1998-99) and end with two pieces from “Archivio Moschino,” a label offering historical archival pieces re-interpreted with contemporary silhouettes and proportions, making an appearance on the Spring/Summer 2010 runway. All set against a backdrop of ad campaigns for a truly artistic background.
г. Москва, Красная площадь, 3
8 (495) 621-57-63
There are three restaurants I recommend to anyone visiting St Petersburg. The first is Yolki Palki (Nevsky Prospekt 88, metro Mayakovskaya), a typically kitsch restaurant (now a chain), where the waiting staff are dressed up in costumes and the walls are adorned with everything from fake vines to the heads of animals. OK, this place might sound like your worse nightmare but it’s good fun and produces some reasonable quality food which is also relatively reasonably priced, a rarity in this chic and cosmopolitan city. Yolki Palki will give you a taste of provincial Russian cooking and does not adhere to the airs and graces many restaurants attempting to emulate a European vibe will. The Kalinky pancakes with stuffed meat, or alternatively with salmon, make for great hearty dishes, perfect after a days sightseeing. Even more of a rarity in Russian and Eastern Europe as a whole, is that this restaurant actually offers some great vegetarian options.
French actress, Eva Green, most well known for her role in Bond film Quantum of Solace, wore an Alberta Ferretti S/S 2009 dress to the Montblanc White Nights Festival Reception and Gala Dinner at the Mikhailovsky Palace on the 25th of June, in St. Petersburg, Russia.
When I visited St Petersburg in July 2007 I stayed at the Corinthia Nevskij Palace Hotel on Nevskij Prospect. Nevskij Prospect is a long, wide boulevard lined with former palaces and Number 57 is one which was fortunate to be redesigned into a Corinthia hotel. While one naturally expects the building to be vast and luxurious, on entering the lobby one cannot fail to be breath-taken by this chic hotel’s sheer scale and style. However, with competitor hoteliers completing 100 million euro extensions and refurbishment programmes, the 400-bedroom luxury Corinthia Nevskij Palace Hotel has undergone a complete refurbishment. I was not convinced this hotel could get any better but evidently I was wrong! The hotel looks more chic than ever before, so if the staff are still as a attentive as they were in 2007, this hotel may in fact be the best in the world.
The hotel, which now offers more facilities than any other luxury hotel in the city, was acquired by International Hotel Investments (IHI) in 2002. The Malta based investment, development and management company also acquired the vacant properties on either side of the hotel which have been restored their former glory and form part of the re-development.
The work included enlarging the grand foyer, refurbishing the Imperial Restaurant and bars and upgrading all the bedrooms. One of the adjoining properties, Nevskij 59, is now the executive wing with 107 executive suites, bedrooms and a 250sq m Presidential Suite, plus an Executive Lounge. The Executive Lounge was a real bonus to my stay and I would advise spending the extra money to stay in an executive suite simply because you get to enjoy complementary food and drinks in sumptuous comfort, providing your feet with a welcomed break from pounding around the streets of St Petersburg.
The new Grand Ballroom offers the largest meeting space of its kind in St. Petersburg with a capacity of 600 theatre style and 500 for dinner. There are also 14 executive meeting rooms available with a capacity from 12 to 200.
At any one time, more than 1500 guests can be accommodated in the hotel’s conference facilities. Later this year a shopping mall and commercial centre will be opening in the second adjoining property, Nevskij 55.
Commenting at the official grand re-opening, founder and chairman of Corinthia Hotels, Mr. Alfred Pisani said: “Corinthia Hotels is committed to the long term future of St. Petersburg and is proud to have played an important part in providing the necessary infrastructure at the luxury level to attract increasing the number of visitors to the city.”
Her Excellency the Governor of St. Petersburg, Valentina Matvienko, His Excellency Professor Guido de Marco, President Emeritus of Malta and Mr. Vadim Tulpanove, Chairman of the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg were also among the many dignitaries that attended the re-opening event.
Corinthia Hotels is a collection of luxury hotels in St. Petersburg, Prague, Budapest, Lisbon, Tripoli and Malta (2). A new major landmark 300-bedroom hotel in central London is currently under construction in Northumberland Avenue.
Greenbee was launched by John Lewis to provide insurance for your home, car, holidays, weddings and even your pets. However, the website www.greenbee.com offers much more than just insurance and offers a specialist travel service including group tours to Russia. From just £1630, Greenbee will whisk you off on an 8-day, flying to Moscow from London Heathrow with British Airways.
The tour group then stays at the Marriott Tverskaya Hotel for three nights. During the first full day in Moscow, the tour group visits Red Square, Moscow State University, Novodevichy Convent, the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour and St Basil’s Cathedral. If you want some time off in the afternoon there is the option of personal leisure time or a visit to Tretyakov Gallery.
On the third day, the tour visits Sergiev Posad, built around the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius, one of Russia’s most important religious and historical landmarks. The final day in Moscow is spent at the Kremlin, Russia’s apex of political power. Here you visit the Patriarch’s Palace, Cathedral Square and the Armoury Museum which contains the greatest collection of British silver in the world, in addition to treasures accumulated by the Russian state and church.
A four hour train journey takes you to St. Petersburg where the tour group stays at the Ambassador Hotel for four nights. The following day, a tour visiting sights such as Nevsky Prospekt, Vasilevsky island, Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood and the Peter and Paul Fortress, is provided. During the afternoon, the tour goes to the Yusupov Palace and attends a canal boat cruise.
The sixth day of the tour is dedicated to one of the largest museums in the world, the Hermitage, which contains a vast collection of European masterpieces. The penultimate day in Russia is spent at Catherine’s Palace at Pushkin, followed by an afternoon visit to Peter the Great’s Summer Palace and gardens. Finally, before jetting back to London’s Heathrow, a brief visit to St Issac’s Cathedral is made.
During the trip, should any of the tour desire to see an opera or ballet performance in either Moscow or St. Petersburg, tickets can be pre-booked through Greenbee Specialist Travel.