25 Years Later, Hotel Opens at Sokolniki

Holiday InnThe brand-new Holiday Inn Sokolniki is housed in a hotel begun 25 years ago.
Visitors to the city have reason to cheer, with the opening of the Holiday Inn Sokolniki over the weekend adding 1,000 much-needed beds to Moscow's pool of three-star hotels.

The hotel, perched above the Sokolniki metro station, is the third-largest Holiday Inn in the world. With the closing of the mammoth Rossiya and Moskva hotels in recent years, it will also be one of the largest in the city.

The 25-story edifice that houses the Holiday Inn was for years a testament to the decrepit state of the Soviet Union.

Intended as a hotel when construction began in 1980, work ceased on the unfinished structure in 1989, with the current hotel's owners buying the building in 2003, hotel spokeswoman Kristina Bushuyeva said. Construction of the new hotel cost $70 million.

Appealing to businessmen, tourists and conference attendees, rooms -- there are 523 of them -- start at 183 euros ($233) per night, Bushuyeva said. And with wireless Internet and satellite television in every room, the hotel is a far cry from its Brezhnev-era beginnings.

"There aren't enough rooms in Moscow. With our easy access on the red metro line to Red Square, we aim to attract all types of customers," she said.

But with city officials and the average tourist concerned about the lack of three-star hotels that cater to a middle-class market, some analysts were concerned that the Sokolniki would not be able to fill the gap.

"This is not a competitive rate," said Stephane Meyrat, an associate director at Colliers real estate consultancy. "They can do this because with so few hotels, a bottleneck effect is created."

Meyrat said most of the hotel's clientele would be businesspeople, with its greatest occupancy rates coming during the workweek. To meet 60 percent occupancy, he said, it would have to appeal to all, from CEOs to flight attendants.