This month’s ‘Departures’ provides you with information on ‘better’ things to do in Saint Petersburg– it’s our guide to everything and everywhere the discerning traveller needs to know: From the best bars in Saint Petersburg and the city’s best restaurants, to the best hotels and the city’s most impressive buildings.
Saint Petersburg has a range of excellent accommodation options, from five-star international hotels to local-run boutique businesses. As in many Russian cities, there’s an increasing number of quality private rentals through sites such as Airbnb. This trend was boosted by summer World Cup, as Russia sought to house an unprecedented number of foreign visitors.
Best Hotels in Saint Petersburg #1: Angleterre
The five-star Angleterre, which looks onto Saint Isaac’s Cathedral, is one of the best located and historic accommodation options in the city. When authorities planned to demolish the original hotel in 1987, locals gathered outside to protest – the replacement project still went ahead but the demonstration was an important part of the new wave of public dissent during the Perestroika period.
“The Angleterre is one of the best located and historic accommodation options in the city”
There are good restaurants, a pool, gym and sauna, as well as a recommended public cinema downstairs. Function rooms are named after famous Russians, from Anna Pavlova to Kazimir Malevich. More info: angleterrehotel.com
Best Hotels in Saint Petersburg #2: Sokos
The Finnish Sokos group has a number of upscale accommodation options in Saint Petersburg. The most luxurious of these is the Palace Bridge Hotel, near the Spit of Vasilievsky Island and within walking distance of major sites like the Hermitage as well as more low-key shopping areas on the island itself. The Palace Bridge has a spa, an indoor golf club and a Dans le Noir restaurant.
The Sokos Hotel Vasilievsky and the Sokos Hotel Olympia Garden are also both good spots. More info: sokoshotels.fi
Best Hotels in Saint Petersburg #3: Soul Kitchen
For something lower-key, try Soul Kitchen – technically a hostel though the private rooms are hotel standard. The hostel is set in a neo-baroque building dating back to 1863 and is ideally located in the very centre of the city.
The building has also served as a set for several Russian TV series, as well as the film adaptation of Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel The Master and the Margarita. Soul Kitchen moved into its new location in 2012 so the charmingly eclectic design is still fresh. More info: soulkitchenhostel.com
Best Hotels in Saint Petersburg #4: Belmond Grand Hotel Europe
Belmond opened on the central Nevsky Prospekt in 1875 and has been entertaining the great and the good there every since. The interiors are sumptuous, the rooms stylishly decorated and the staff are always ready to help you get tickets for the city’s top cultural attractions. Belmond featured in the Bond film GoldenEye and the hotel bar boasts what it says is the only full-time vodka sommelier in Russia. More info: belmond.com
Best Hotels in Saint Petersburg #5: Rossi Boutique Hotel and Spa
The Rossi Boutique Hotel and Spa on the Fontanka embankment is another topic luxury hotel option in the city. The building is historic and set in one of the city’s most picturesque spots, but the interior design is all new – with a collection of contemporary art pieces – and the spa has a number of modern treatments as well as more traditional massages and relaxation options. The breakfast comes recommended and the restaurant (one of the best in St. Petersburg) is popular in the evening. More info: rossihotels.com
Theo Merz is a British journalist based in Moscow. Keep up with him on Twitter.