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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Moskva Hotel Checks Itself Out of Operation

MTThe reconstruction of the famed property is expected to take at least three years.
The last six guests in the hulking Moskva hotel checked out Monday as the landmark hotel prepared for workers to raze it to the ground and then rebuild it to look largely the same.

The hotel, a sprawling Stalin-era combination of elegance and foreboding, is one of the capital's most recognizable structures and is known even to people who have never set foot in Moscow: Its facade is featured on the label of Stolichnaya vodka.

Despite its renown, the hotel that opened in 1935 just off Red Square has fallen into disrepair in recent years, and the city decided last year to tear it down and rebuild it rather than try to repair it.

The Moskva was also well known for giving even visitors who hadn't indulged in vodka a vague sense of a hangover because of its eye-bending facade.

The two wings flanking the central column are of similar width but different architectural styles; one side has large windows framed by prominent cornices, the other has smaller, less-adorned windows.

Architect Alexei Shchusev reportedly presented a blueprint showing the alternative window styles to Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

Instead of choosing between window types, Stalin simply signed off on the plan, and builders, unwilling to question Stalin, went ahead with the unbalanced plan.

News reports have said the reconstructed hotel will be rebuilt according to Shchusev's plans, but haven't specified whether the mismatch will be part of the new incarnation.

The new version of the hotel also is to have an underground connection to the vast subterranean shopping mall in Manezh Square and a glass-covered interior courtyard.

The six guests who checked out on Monday were given vouchers entitling them to a week's stay in the new hotel. The reconstruction is expected to take three years, although Moscow construction projects frequently take far longer than predicted.