on January 13, 2010
The Grand Hotel Europe in St Petersburg is absolutely gorgeous. I still have to pinch myself to remind myself that I really did stay there because it's got such a fairy tale aura about it that it's easy to imagine it was just a dream. I visited in 2005 on a business trip taking in both St Pete's and Moscow and the Grand Hotel Europe was my second stay in St Pete's but the hotel was 100 times more fantastic than where I stayed on my previous trip.I'm not in the habit of staying in 5 star hotels even on business trips and the price of the GHE was enough to make your eyes water. But considering that a very ordinary hotel will also cost you a lot, the extra cost for going to the best hotel in town seems a bit less of a shock. Things may be better now but at the time of my visit security concerns over Chechen terrorists meant that our company was willing to be a lot more generous on hotel prices than normal. There's no sense going somewhere cheap and not feeling secure. If you want a classical endorsement, it might help to know that Tchaikovsky chose to stay there on his honeymoon. You won't find too many Holiday Inns that can make a claim like that.The Grand Hotel Europe is a large and very imposing building that would look at home on a Paris Boulevard. This isn't too surprising since it's on the city's most famous street, Nevskiy Prospekt. It was built in the late 1800s and has a lot of Art Nouveau style elements that give it a certain pizzazz that's out of the ordinary. There are beautiful stained glass curvy windows, spectacular chandeliers, a stunning (and very expensive) wood panelled bar that looks like an old gentlemen's club complete with a piano player. With such spectacular public spaces lingering in my mind, it's hard to recall a clear picture of my room. It was on an inner corridor so I didn't benefit from any lovely views but my room was very quiet for being away from the road noise. The décor was quietly subtle and expensive and the bed was every bit as comfortable as it should be at such a high price. If I wanted to be really picky, there was maybe a bit too much furniture squeezed into the available space but that's really not a serious issue. We had only the basic rooms but these were still very lovely. The bathrooms were well equipped with lots of marble and under floor heating.We didn't eat dinner in the restaurant, opting instead to go out with the agent we were visiting and probably saving a fortune in the process, almost enough to pay for drinks in the bar when we got back. I loved it and could have sat there for hours just soaking up the atmosphere. I did make it to breakfast in the morning though because I really wanted to see what the restaurant would look like. There are half a dozen different restaurants in the hotel but breakfast is served as a buffet in the main restaurant which is absolutely stunning with swirly stained glass windows and lots of over-the-top art nouveau touches.
©Travelocity.com LP 2000-2009