Rocco Forte Hotel Astoria
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... dinner experience.
We then popped into Crooners to say hello to the boys there. We had a drink and then took a glass of wine back to our cabin. It was a good opportunity to get my hair washed and redo my nails so did all that, then here I am writing up my blog – don’t usually manage to do it the same day as it happens. But hoping that tomorrow afternoon after we get back from our tour I’ll have time to do another upload. Till then ...
Thursday 3rd of October:
We walked over to the bus stop all packed and ready to make the 9 hour bus ride to Helsinki. With two stops and a couple of hours of naps we arrived in Helsinki and boarded the Ferry for St Petersburg. We explored the ship and became accustomed to the four person cabin the size of our bedrooms in Oulu (in other words a cabin for two, that crammed four).We watched the sunset over Helsinki on the stern of the ...
... log cabin for him in three days. It had three rooms. An eating room, a bedroom and a study. It was built out of oak logs in the 1700's with little leaded glass windows. Peter continued to live in this log cabin after St Petersburg was built. It was his idea to have this city here as his capitol even though the land was a swamp. The city is built on 101 islands and oak pilings are under many of the buildings. All of the canals were formed ...
... we did not go in) and the gardens though lovely were underwhelming in comparison to Versailles. If I had only seen these gardens they would have been amazing. The fountains were striking and were decorated by dozens of beautiful statues that had been recently re guilder with gold leaf. What I haven't told you was that it was pouring rain the whole time which did take some of the fun out of it all. We were juggling umbrellas all day and still managed to get quite wet! Still we kept ...
... I found it absolutely spectacular. Then we had some time to wander around in the church and also along Nevsky Prospect. Then in the afternoon we visited Peter & Paul's Fortress (Peter the Great and Paul, son of Catherine the Great, I think) where there was an interesting artistic statue of Peter the Great that was out of proportion. We looked inside the fortress where the bodies/tombs of the royal family are kept now and listened to a male choir singing a nice ...
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Historical Traveler Reviews Rocco Forte Hotel Astoria St. Petersburg
We were to stay in an apartment in the neighborhoodof Uldnaya in St Petersburg. Getting there from the train station was scary enough, but the apartment was dreadfully dirty and had an odor that was unbearable. The elderly lady, Laura, who lived there was nice, but didnt speak english. Within 2 minutes I knew we couldn't stay there, so I only hoped I could get her to show me where the nearest metro was so my wife and I could head downtown to find a hotel. Leaving everything in the apartment, Laura took us to the metro, but then proceeded to get in and ride the train. Not speaking any russion we just followed her, and ended up in front of the winter palace where she gave us a key to the apartment, and then left. We were left standing in the palace square with only the clothes we were wearing, a video camera, and a small guide book. The guide book led us to the Astoria, and for $240/night we found an oasis in an otherwise dingy, worn out, crumbling city. The staff was very helpful, in that the rules forbid them to allow guests without passports/visas. Lauras son took ours to register us with the government, so we had none when we checked into the hotel. The hotel was kind enough to let us stay one night, but after that we were to provide them with the passports and visas. I called the agent that booked the room (luckily it was a st petersburg number) and told him we were not staying at the apartment, but opted for the Astoria, and that we needed our luggage and passports. He could have ignored us, or taken our stuff, but he showed up that night with everything intact. I told him to cancel our hotel in Moscow for later that week because I had to 're-think' how accomodations work in Russia. I also told him to keep the money for the apartment and pay Laura what was due her, and told him that we would talk about refunds after I got back to the US. Interestingly when I got back to the US, he had already sent a full refund. There were several opportunities on this trip for the Russians to 'take' us, but on every occasion they were good and honest, and lived up to their word. The Astoria is what it is. An elegant, historic hotel with good food (a little pricey, but what isn't at this level?), beautiful lobbies and sitting areas, decent rooms (ours was right in front of St. Issacs Cathedral), clean bathrooms, and a very helpful staff. It was also within easy waking distance of everything. We would stay there again.
A Hotel with history.
We chose the Astoria over the other hotels on Nevsky Prospekt for it's history.It was a pleasant mix of old-fashioned elegance. It isnt your typical mass-produced business hotel.
The rooms were pleasant, with an atmosphere of old-style European grand hotels, with stately spacious mosaic bathrooms. The bedrooms were pleasant and well equipped with modern amenities and the decor managed to be both traditional yet fresh.
The lobby and other common areas in the hotel are grand in a style that isnt often seen elsewhere-pleasant if you like that sort of thing.
The service was the way we liked it- pleasant,slightly understated, courteous without being familiar, yet efficient, helpful and the staff were well-informed regarding ongoing events such as concerts, performances etc. If you plan to sample the arts' scene in St Petersburg, the concierge at the lobby is most reliable.
The restaurant is rather average. There are however many good restaurants within walking distance of the Astoria. Prince Kotchubey's Palace is just 3 minutes walk away and serves superb Imperial Russian cuisine. Try the dessert pelmeni.
Good service, overpriced meals
We stayed at the hotel Astoria for five days over Russian Orthodox Easter and May 1st. We found the central position in the historical centre a great advantage. The hotel is well appointed and combines art deco with modern comfort. The bath is impeccable. If anything is out of order a call to the desk will have it fixed soon.
The breakfast is sumptuous, a buffet of all foods you would find elswhere in Europe. However, the price is out of this world - St. Petersburg is adapting to capitalist rules, they will demand all they can get. Few people are prepared to start their day by going out to search for a better deal in another hotel.
The service in the restaurant and tearoom/bar is good only by local standards, the waiters and waitresses seem to understand english but in fact they have only a few standard words and all convesration and requests outside this spectrum become very complicated. Arrogance will get you nowhere in Russia in general - the people are proud and if they feel unjustly criticised become balky. Some basic russian and understanding of cultural differences will do a lot to make life easyer. The prices here again are much too high compared with the quality of most foods you get, but here the customer can decide to go to one of the many competitive restaurants in town.
My mother-in-law and me visited this hotel in May 2004. We were picked up by a hotel driver from the airport but could not come anywhere close to the hotel because they hosted a Chinese delegation and cars were not allowed anywhere near the hotel. We had to wait in the car until we were allowed to come closer.
Upon our arrival we were shown to a room which has just been painted and the smell of paint was simply unbearable. After complaining about that we were moved to a different room.
Being Russian myself I was determined to make this trip very memorable for my mother-in-law who has been dreaming to go to St Petersburg for quite a long time. In the end it turned out to be a wonderful trip but I would not advise to stay in Astoria. The concierge was very unfriendly and not helpful at all. When we asked her for help she looked down on us and asked whether we were staying at the hotel. Getting attention of waiters during afternoon tea was not always easy and we also saw a few people leave after waiting for too long. The waitress then rushed after them but they were gone.
In my opinion the hotel hosts so many delegations and corporate parties that they simply do not have time to care for other guests. It is the case where staff think that they are more important than guests which is unacceptable considering the price you pay for your stay.
Good hotel but don't eat in the restaurant
We stayed at the Hotel Astoria for three nights over the Easter weekend and found it a great base for visiting the city.
We booked into one of the rooms overlooking St Isaac's Cathedral (I think it was an Executive room) and found it very pleasant and comfortable. The view was terrific, the bed comfortable and the bathroom very stylish and airy. The location was perfect - five minutes to the Hermitage, ten minutes to the Mariinsky etc.
However, the restaurant was a huge disappointment. Breakfast each day was mediocre at best. The food was of a reasonable quality but nothing special for the class of hotel and the staff were very good at ignoring all efforts to get their attention. Also, at Euro 26 per person for breakfast in the restaurant or Euro 16 per person for coffee and a pastry in the hotel foyer, the prices were ridiculous. I am prepared to pay high prices for good service but do not feel that I got it here. That breakfast is not included in the room rate is crazy in my view.
We also ate in the hotel restaurant one night and again were disappointed. The food was bland and ordinary and the staff were either absent or intrusive. Very unprofessional. Annoyingly, our meal was supposed to come with a bottle of champagne, but after one glass each the bottle vanished never to be seen again. In the end we gave up trying to track it down as a bad job. This happened in a hotel that claims to be one of the world's best. Poor show Rocco Forte.
All in all, I would recommend staying in the hotel, but advise that people take all meals, including breakfast, elsewhere. There are lots of bars and restaurants within walking distance, so this should not be a problem.
Expected better from Rocco Forte
Spent New Year's Eve 2004 in the Astoria. Booked a Superior Room, was shown into a tiny cubicle that could barely fit a bed. When asked to change for a larger room, was given a room with a courtyard view which was in a lower price category but my rate remained the same,...not too impressed to start. Room was nice but very hot and the outside ventilator's noise made it unpleasent to keep the windows open. Breakfast very average for USD28 p.p. when compared to other Hotels in Russia like the Hyatt or the Kempinski in Moscow. Overall, much worse than the other Rocco Forte hotels such as the de Russie in Rome. Tempted to try the Grand Hotel Europe next time.
Luxurious rooms and excellent concierge services!
My wife and I visited St. Petersburg in June, 2004 for "White Nights". We chose the Hotel Astoria (after doing a lot of research prior to the trip). The property is part of the Rocco Forte chain of hotels.
The Hotel is located in a very convenient location in St. Petersburg. The service (by Russian standards) is excellent and efficient (warning: don't expect "service with a smile" in Russia in general). All of the Astoria staff spoke some English, but I encourage all travelers to learn the Russian language and use it when in Russia. The concierge had extensive connections with all tourist and cultural activities within the city. The breakfast buffet was sumptuous.
The architecture, decor and layout of the hotel felt very "Russian" - spacious and grand. The rooms were comfortable and quiet. The bathrooms are downright opulent (marble all around!).
The restaurant within the Astoria (Davidoff) was a bit overpriced, however. There are finer dining opportunities in St. Petersburg, such as the Taleon Club.
Overall, the Hotel Astoria gets an EXCELLENT recommendation.
By the way, if you do visit St. Petersburg during "White Nights", don't forget to close the curtains and get some sleep! The 22+ hours of daylight per day can really play tricks with your sleep patterns!
A Beautiful Hotel
We stayed at the Astoria in Feb 2004 and cannot suggest a better time to go or place to stay!
Our room was perfect, overlooking St Isaacs, and kept absolutely immaculate. The food was fantastic, particularly the Valentines menu, and all staff attentive and helpful.
The hotel is perfectly situated, even in the snow it was possible to walk to all the main attractions. The weather reports on the breakfast tables helped us decide how many layers to put on, eg 'todays high minus 23 degrees'!
The hotel itself has an intriguing history and list of patrons. If travelling independently we would recommend arranging for the hotel to send a car to collect you from Pulkova, and they were only to happy to arrange ballet tickets etc.
The Astoria in St Petersburg has a lot more than a storied history going for it. It deserves all of it 5 stars. Our room faced St Issac's and while it cost a little more it was worth it to pull the drapes to that magnificent view. St Petersburg is a very walkable city and the Astoria is in an excellant location. The only trouble is the prices. Eating there is out of the question. A $28 breakfast is absurd. There are many places around the hotel where you can get excellant food at reasonable prices.
And be careful of the thresholds. Every doorway in the room has an evil threshold just high enough to lure you into stubbing a naked toe resulting in your yelling out interesting words not found in the Russian translation books and hopping about in an awkward imitation of a Russian folk dance.
Our room on the 6th floor (5th really) in the Astoria was very nice, not huge, but looked towards the inner courtyard = nice and quiet. The room had parquet flooring and marble bathroom (robes and slippers provided) with maid service at least twice a day. In the evening the beds (very comfortable) are turned down and towels refreshed in the bathroom. 1 bottle of water per person is provided per day (you cannot drink St Petersburg tap/faucet water, so cleaning your teeth is fun!). If you are a sensitive non smoker ask for a room away from the stairwell as the smell seeps through all the same. The Manager did tell us they have 2 non smoking floors and are opening a third one shortly. We found our room a little too warm despite the a/c, but we imagine it would be necessary in the winter months (we visited in mid April 2004). The staff are all very helpful and finding English speakers was not a problem. The service in the Davidov Restaurant was impeccable, under the watchful eye of a very efficient Canadian. The breakfast buffet in Davidov's was very comprehensive with a huge variety of everything and you can even have caviar and champagne from the breakfast buffet if you so wish!! The dinner menu is equally delicious, with live classical music and tasteful singing at the weekend.
The Astoria is very well located and some of the main sights are within a 5-10-15 minute walk and Nevsky Prospect perhaps 15-20 minutes - you are well advised to be extremely careful/wary on this street as the Nevsky Prospect is VERY busy and notorious for pickpockets - the traffic is also manic so take care when crossing. If you go to the Mariinsky Theatre for ballet etc try eating at Director Valery Gergiev's new restaurant "Backstage Restaurant", Teatralnaya pl 18/10, St Petersburg, which adds to the experience. I shall look forward to returning to St Petersburg one day and would stay at the Astoria again.