St. Petersburg Weekend Getaways
- Nov. 18 2014 00:00
Peterhof, where Russia's imperial families went for weekend — or seasonal — getaways.
The worsening economic situation in Russia is bad news for everyone, but it has been particularly hard on hotels, which depend on business travelers more than tourists.
But as both English and Russian proverbs have it: Nothing is so bad as not to be good for something. To attract more and different guests, hotels are lowering rates, particularly on the weekends, and devising a variety of special offers. With savings from the favorable currency exchange rates, a weekend getaway at a posh hotel in St. Petersburg is suddenly affordable.
First things first: Getting there. The easiest and cheapest way is by train, either in less than four hours on the high-speed Sapsan train (about $120-160 round trip) or overnight on the Red Arrow (about $120-210 round trip, depending on which of three class you travel). Arrival at Moscow Station in St. Petersburg puts you right on Nevsky Prospekt.
Air travel is also cheap, with flights on five carriers from Vnukovo, Domodedovo and Sheremetyevo airports to Pulkovo airport several times a day, ranging in price from about $210 to $300 round trip. The flight is a little over an hour, but the time spent in airport transfers and security procedures add up.
Next up: Choosing where to stay. Here is a wish list of newly built or renovated hotels in St. Petersburg to try for an indulgent getaway weekend.
If you arrive by train and want to maximize your time in the northern capital, consider the Crowne Plaza Ligovsky Hotel. This new construction, 4-star hotel is a quick ten-minute walk from Moscow Train Station and a minute or two from Nevsky Prospekt. Inside are contemporary interiors with a nod to style moderne, restaurant and bar, and a fitness center if you need to work off the breakfast pastries. The Crowne Plaza is serious about sleep: you'll be cocooned in a quiet zone (no annoying housekeeping noises) and provided with an aromatherapy kit to drift off and stay in dreamland. Specials are under $100 a night. For more information, see www.ihg.com/crowneplaza/hotels/us/en/st-petersburg/ledly/hoteldetail.
If you want to be in the heart of the action, try the Corinthia Hotel St. Petersburg, which just finished a 90 million euro renovation of two 19th century buildings on Nevsky Prospekt. The rooms are modern, but the service is old-fashioned in a really good way: a glass of champagne at check-in, blinys and red caviar for breakfast, 24-hour room service, fitness club, sauna and nearby spa. The hotel is offering several specials for about $115 a night. For more information, see: www.corinthia.com/ru/hotels/st-petersburg.
Perhaps your ideal hotel has a room with a fabulous view. Perhaps you like the baroque. Perhaps you have a secret penchant for red velvet walls. If so, the newly opened Trezzini Palace Hotel is for you. This small — by St. Petersburg standards — palace was built in 1723 by and for Domenico Trezzini, the chief architect of the state buildings on Vasilievsky Island. Some of the hotel's 21 rooms have spectacular views of St. Isaac's Cathedral across the Neva. If you are bored with your view, you can order a massage or room service, or even ask for a helicopter tour of the city. Some of the many weekend specials bring the rate down to about $210 per night. For more information, see: www.trezzinipalace.com.
If you really want to splurge, choose the Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace, a luxuriously restored 19th century apartment house next to St. Isaac's Cathedral that was originally designed by the same architect, Auguste de Montferrand. Two playful lions guard the entrance. The opulent public areas have been restored, and almost 200 rooms and suites have been created — many with spectacular views. The fitness club, sauna, steam bath and 4th-floor pool under a glass ceiling vie with the spa for your attention. Remember to venture out into the city. With special offers, rooms are about $230 a night. For more information, see: www.fourseasons.com/stpetersburg.