Why should I go now?
Moscow in summer is vibrant, unexpected. In the warm, dry, continental sun, the city’s streets and parks have a Mediterranean vibe. The Four Seasons has the best location in the city bar none, next to the Kremlin; you can watch Russian tourists wander in and out of Red Square, eating their marozhonye (ice cream) from your balcony.
What’s the lowdown?
The Four Seasons is an edifice and a historical artefact. Those interested in Soviet history will be fascinated to know it was formerly the Hotel Moscow, a pet project of Joseph Stalin, opened in 1935 – the Lubyanka, headquarters of Stalin’s NKVD security police, is a five minute walk. Those interested in cocktails will know its façade from the labels of Stolichnaya vodka. Transformed after many years of work into a luxury hotel, it is now the grandest hotel in Russia.
Its 25 metre indoor pool, occupying the internal courtyard, with a glass roof, and surrounding ultra-luxurious spa, are the central symbols of the transformation. We balanced out the yin of exercising and spa purifying with the yang of hanging out in the Moscovsky bar on the ground floor, where immensely strong cocktails are served in an atmosphere more New Orleans than Moscow; the Moscovsky Mule is the hotel’s take on the classic Moscow Mule, and has a moreish kick.
Our suite (bedroom, living area by the bedroom, and living/reception room) had balconies facing out onto Red Square, with the Kremlin to the right – you don’t realise exactly how much of a castle the Kremlin is until you have a chance to examine it at night and wonder at what has happened there over the centuries. Furnishings were plush, light and contemporary, while thick carpets and swathes of marble in the bathrooms will ensure that traditional Four Seasons fans (and visiting dignitaries) are not upset. It’s worth upgrading to a room with a view of, and balcony onto, Red Square; one of the most momentuous city views in the world.
This is a Four Seasons, so an element of grandeur and formality go with the deal, from the moment you walk into the immense lobby and stride down the marble corridors. Service is impressive at every touchpoint, as is security; the lobby areas are probably more suited to those with an entourage of bodyguards than a casual cabal.
Rates: From RUB 28,000 excluding breakfast (approx. USD $500/€400/£300)