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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

No-Tell Hotels: A Passport to Love

Where to go to make love? For generations that has been the question on the lips of Russia's young and illicit lovers, as they struggled to find an intimate arena outside of small apartments crammed with relatives.


There were always the usual places: friends' apartments, dachas, parks and vacant lots. But the most obvious alternatives -- cheap motels and hotels -- were off limits to Muscovites who were forbidden from staying in such places overnight in their own city.


That was two years ago. Today, with the reversal of that part of the Soviet-era residency regulations, it is just a matter of having the 60,000 rubles (about $10) to stay in a place like the Kievskaya Hotel, located next to the train station of the same name.


"If somebody wants to bring his girlfriend and stay in the hotel, we don't care," said Kievskaya administrator Irina Mairova, standing in the lobby crowded with gypsies and train passengers. "It is their private business."


On a recent visit to the hotel's lobby, it wasn't hard to find Muscovites looking for a place to be alone.


"I am a young man and I would like to spend some time with my girlfriend but it is very difficult to find a place, so I went to the hotel," said student Vasily Shuchupal, 23, who had booked a room complete with Soviet-era furniture, a black-and-white television set and clean linens.


There was a time, too, when unmarried couples were forbidden from staying in the same hotel together. But now that those Communist-era moral principles have fallen by the wayside, "pay-and-stay" is the only rule at most Moscow hotels. Still, according to a random sampling of some of the city's less expensive hotels, trysting lovers do not make up a significant percentage of paying guests.


"There are only a few of them coming to stay, so we are working as usual," said Mairova.


Over at the slightly more upscale Hotel Vostok (89,000 rubles a night), administrators are more discriminating in who they allow to stay. Guests must leave their passports at the reception desk and fill out a form explaining the purpose of their visit. "Private matters" is usually a tell-tale sign that a guest is neither businessperson nor tourist and reason for added scrutiny, said one Vostok administrator.


"If the couple is a polite one and good looking, then we are very pleased to help them, but you should understand that this is not a brothel," he said, speaking over the din in the Vostok's newly decorated lobby, crowded with small-time businessmen in their trademark track suits.


Aside from low-budget hotels, an even cheaper alternative exists. Outside the Kievskaya, for example, stand elderly landlords holding handwritten signs reading "Rent a Room" and hoping to catch couples put off by the hotel's prices.


"I take 50,000 per night per person, but before I always check their passports," said Mikhail, 58, a retired construction engineer who rents one of the three rooms in the apartment he shares with his wife and small daughter.


Some lovers -- even student lovers -- aren't looking for bargains at all and prefer to pay huge sums for a night of solitude and comfort. Take 20-year-old Alexei Temnov, who once rented a room on a floating hotel moored on the Moskva River. "It was on the eve of Tatyana's Day and we wanted to spend a beautiful time together."


Others, however, refuse on principle to pay anything for a place for love.


"Sometimes I make love at home, I could do it even on the street, but I would never go to the hotel," said student Kirill Tretyakov, 18. "Paying for love turns it into prostitution."