Moscow has a reputation for having some of the world’s most expensive hotel accommodation, although things have changed for the better over the last few years. While the city caters mostly to well-heeled business travelers with expense accounts to match, Moscow has been gradually adding new lodgings with more variety to choose from. Now the city boasts a better range of low- and medium-cost options, including friendly hostels, rejuvenated historical gems and oddities not commonly encountered elsewhere.
You don’t have to be a spy on the run to stay in one of Moscow’s futuristic capsule hotels. Edward Snowden may have had to spend more than a month holed up at Sheremetyevo Airport’s V-Express hotel to try out a capsule room for size, but you can stay in one right downtown at Sleepbox Hotel. It’s thoroughly sci-fi in every way – you’ll feel as though you’ve just boarded a space base from the moment you enter reception with its welcome desk resembling a smartphone application icon. Taking its inspiration from the capsule hotels in Japan, Sleepbox’s rooms are a little more spacious than the coffin-shaped quarters of their Japanese counterparts. There are 1- and 2-bed boxes with shared conveniences. And for those feeling a little less space-aged, there are even conventional, albeit diminutive, rooms with their own en suite facilities as well.
There’s free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel, and they even offer free use of the hotel’s tablet computers. Sleepbox Hotel is located round the corner from the main street, Tverskaya, and 5 minutes’ walk from Belorussky railway station with its express train to Sheremetyevo Airport, and the metro ring line with its easy connections to Moscow’s other airports.
The recently opened DA!Hostel is hidden away on Moscow’s main tourist strip, Arbat Street, home to a plethora of bars, cafes and souvenir stores. Bright and colorful, the hostel offers all the facilities that you would expect to find in a modern hostel, including a Play Station 3 and free Wi-Fi. DA!Hostel comes with one extra feature – a hostel within the hostel. Rezidentsia BikeFF describes itself as a cycle-hotel aimed at serving bicyclists. Bicycles can be parked in specially equipped rooms, rather than simply being left on the street. What’s more, there’s also bike hire and a repair service.
One of Moscow’s most economical options, the Izmailovo complex comprises 5 massive blocks, which in total can accommodate some 10,000 guests. Each one of the blocks has a different name – Alfa, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Vega – but vary little in the services and prices they offer. Although not located right downtown, the complex is situated right beside the metro and is only 5 stops from Red Square. One added bonus is the Vernissage souvenir market right beside the complex. It is Moscow’s largest such market and is crammed full of every imaginable trinket and knick-knack, ranging from nesting dolls to old army uniforms. Another attraction here is the vodka museum, offering educational tours and tastings.
Radisson Royal Hotel, Moscow
The Hotel Ukraina, as it was formerly known, was completed in 1957 and is one of the “Seven Sisters” skyscrapers. Designed in a Stalinist Gothic style that has been described as resembling a wedding cake, it was the largest hotel in Europe and the world’s tallest (650 feet) at the time of its opening. It was closed in 2007 for a complete restoration and reopened as a Radisson hotel in 2010. Besides its spectacular collection of murals and artworks (including a diorama of the city center as it was in 1977), the hotel also offers such unusual facilities as an Olympic-length swimming pool, the Iranian restaurant Farsi and a fleet of all-weather icebreaker tourist ships that cruise the Moscow River even in the dead of winter. Naturally, the views from its various sky-high bars and restaurants are truly impressive.
Quite possibly Moscow’s most expensive hotel, the hotel – which opened in 2007, replacing the decidedly un-luxurious Intourist Hotel – boasts all the trimmings of a first-class establishment: rare wood, fine marble and exquisite fabrics. The rooms are said to be the largest in the city, as is its day spa center. A stone’s throw from Red Square, the views are fantastic, especially from the rooftop O2 bar, which seems to serve as the unofficial photo studio for every Hollywood celebrity passing through town.