Treasure Hunt: 40 Winks for Under $40

Moscow is an expensive city, and nowhere are prices more astronomical than in the hospitality sector. A recent survey by corporate services company Hogg Robinson Group showed that a hotel room in Moscow averages $485. Even if your visiting friends and family aren't picky, it is nearly impossible to find anything for under $200 per night, so if you have guests, it's likely they will be staying with you. But given the size of most Moscow apartments, it's unlikely they can crash in the guest room. If you don't want to buy a new sofa-bed or just want to avoid making the trip to IKEA, air mattresses (naduvniye matrasy) and sleeping bags (spalniye meshki or spalniki) are a simple, economical alternative.

At you'll find a range of air mattresses starting at 600 rubles for a twin size (193 cm long x 76 wide x 22 high) to 1,000 rubles for a king-size (183 cm wide).

At, which takes credit cards, you'll find a similar selection, with slightly better deals on some items.

Models with built-in pumps tend to be a bit pricier, starting at about 1,600 rubles for a twin. If you opt for a lower-end mattress, you'll need a pump, which is sold separately. Manual and foot pumps range from 200 to 300 rubles, while an electric one costs about 600 rubles. The size of the mattress you buy -- and of your lungs -- may inform the decision of whether to go manual or electric.

Unlike some Internet retail outlets, both Lamon and Comfort Shop have actual stores, easily accessible by metro, where you can go to inspect the wares before you make a purchase. If you don't want to take your new mattress home on the metro, delivery within the Moscow Ring Road generally runs between 250 and 300 rubles on an order of less than 1,000 rubles. Be sure to ask about warranties in case your new mattress springs a leak.

A number of online stores offer a range of sleeping bags in a variety of materials, ranging from cotton to synthetic materials fit for camping in the Arctic. The less expensive ones, which are lighter on the insulation, are fine for indoor use.

Web sites like and, offer Russian- and Belarussian-made sleeping bags starting at around 400 rubles for a one-person blanket model with a single-zipper closure (190 x 75 cm). At, which also sells air mattresses, you can go browse the selection in person.

If all else fails, you can always have your guest take a page from O. Henry's "The Cop and the Anthem": As fall progressed, the vagrant Soapy sought to earn a warm, snug jail sentence that would last until springtime.

Suggest that your visitor commit a minor infraction that involves police detention. When the date of your guest's flight home rolls around, it's time to clear things up with the authorities, which may require payment of a fine -- which would only set you back about as much as a pull-out couch from IKEA.