Belmond Grand Hotel Europe
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Travel Blogs from St. Petersburg
Today is Tuesday, July 9th.We took off for St. Petersburg via a high-speed train. The train was very comfortable and they served lunch. Bob made one of the ticket agents smile. The train ride was about 3.5 hours followed by a tour of St. Petersburg in the afternoon. After a lovely overview of the city, we checked into the Grand Hotel Europe on …
The pianist is playing 'As Time Goes By' and we are offered blinis with caviar and sour cream for breakfast. I have eaten at breakfast buffets on seven continents (if you count the buffet on the Hanseatic in Antarctica) and this one is among the best in terms of variety of dishes, quality of food and presentation …
... they brought us a glass of champagne to savour as we sailed. Cue opportunity for a couple of arty ***** photos!!! We were able to get photos of so many historic and well known sites as we meandered through the waterways – the trouble is getting them all sorted out in your head! But we definitely had the most fantastic cruise as we basked in the sunshine and learnt more and more about this beautiful city.
After the cruise we hopped back in the ...
... end of the top row - and realized that the clerk was being literal with her "50/50" description; you could only see half the stage. We had a good chuckle about that. Throughout parts of the performance we watched an empty stage but had a great view of the orchestra. The dancers were magical - the ballerina playing Juliet a dream to watch.
Other sightseeing activities included a chilly river boat cruise on the Neva river and canals which cost ...
... inhabited Dresden and some of them made a lot of money. The real estate is still evident of this fact. After an hour and a half of a beautiful tour, we disembarked, and Rowland, bloodhound that he is, led us directly back to our parking where, for a change, there was no ticket waiting for us. From there we drove back to a medieval town, also known for its fine pottery, Meissen. Set on the Elba River, it is a typical old town with narrow cobblestone ...
How has this hotel rated in the past?
Historical Traveler Reviews Belmond Grand Hotel Europe St. Petersburg
Shabby room, depressing beds
This was absolutely not a 5-star hotel. We stayed at the Hotel Ararat in Moscow, which was absolutely lovely and perfect in every way, then took an overnight train to St. Petersburg. Our first views of the hotel (and city) were nearly overwhelming. A beautifully restored city with gorgeous neo-Classical buildings. The lovingly restored lobby and dining areas of the Grand Hotel were awesome. Then we got to our room. There were stains on the walls and carpets, a view of the air conditioning units, chipped veneer furniture, and a bed that we sank into like a sinkhole! Apparently, complaints about the too-soft beds are common (they have no other types of beds, even in upgraded rooms, which we were willing to pay for!) because they offered to put a board under our mattress! Then the bed felt like a soft mattress with a board underneath it! Because I am nosy, I peeked into other, $700/night+ rooms, and they were much the same, just with a better view.
I will not exaggerate and say this was the most uncomfortable bed I've ever slept in; after all, I've shared space with bedbugs in Thailand for $1/night, but at THIS price, I was nearly devastated. I guess for some people, it's perfect, but NOT for people who need a good night's sleep on a firm mattress. I could have forgiven even the faint smell of cabbage that lingered in the room, if only the bed had been worthy. Painful. Plus, the other 5-star hotels were already booked, so we couldn't switch hotels. I felt like I was in Purgatory. Oh, well, at least the dining room was amazing.
We have now refurbished 200 of our 300 rooms with the help of French designer Michel Jouannet, focusing on making the rooms intimate, whilst giving the long hallways of the hotel a warmer rich red décor. Michel Jouannet has also worked at the Grand Hotel Europe's sister properties, the Hotel Cipriani in Venice and the Copacabana Palace in Rio.
We have also fully refurbished the Caviar Bar restaurant making it St Petersburg most popular place to dine.
I hope that you will return to the Grand Hotel Europe and give us the opportunity to welcome you to our superb new guest rooms.
Grand Location, Grand Lobby, Not Such A Grand Value
This is kind of a tough call since the GHE is in the super-luxe category, where criticism may seem a bit pompous. However, at these prices one should be able to make the call. The GHE is certainly sumptuous, as the public areas project an over-the-top sense of luxury of a by-gone era. But the hotel is relying too much on this first impression, and a look at the edges suggests more than a bit of fraying and the rooms are not even remotely luxurious. The rooms are Marriott-nice, the customer service is Holiday Inn-efficient-to-a-fault, but at the luxury rates commanded by the GHE one expects Peninsula standards in all respects. The customer service is palpably cool to the touch (almost cold), but the breakfast buffet is wonderful and wonderfully set in an art nouveau masterpiece of a room, the caviar bar is practically a deal by western standards, and the location can't be beat only steps from the Church of the Spilled Blood. My bottom line is simply that the mismatch between (a) the rooms' aesthetic and quality standards and (b) the lobby standards does not support the stratospheric room rate. Next time, I will consider the Astoria's more understated charms.
Relying on a reputation long gone
Although the hotel has a fine location, this hotel appears to be replying on a past reputation that is long gone. If you are in a tour group, or on a conference, (and the hotel was full of both during the stay) then you may not notice the lack of any service standards and the inconsistent and sloppy service. If you are a VIP then you will be fawned over - which is excruciating and embarrassing for other guests to watch. Anyone else and you don't seem to matter at all. The hotel is no better than a basic tourist class hotel with pretensions high above its ability to deliver. This is made even worse by the fact the hotel continues to charge high prices. Best avoided.
OVERRATED for the price
Given the price, the following were dissapointing: the beds (more like a two star hotel in the west), the lobby (tacky, clearly a rennovation done on the cheap), the service (the concierges are unhelpful unless they think they can sell you something (a tour, a ticket, etc.). The location and the buffet breakfast are both EXCELLENT.
As good as you'll get
We stayed here for a week in mid-February and this is as good a hotel as you'll find in Russia. It's conveniently located for the major sights & the metro and, whilst it's not cheap, it offers good quality & service. They seem to change the towels at least 3 times a day!
My only criticism is that at these prices, they should be able to offer freshly squeezed orange juice as standard at breakfast - you have to order it specially if you want it.
We ate in all four of the hotel restaurants. The Italian one, in particular, is excellent value.
A truly Grand Hotel
I had a terrific stay at the Grand Hotel in November 2004 for a couple of days. The rooms are very spacious and comfortable but best of all is the location and service of this hotel. We were able to explore the center of St Petersburg by just walking out the front door.
The staff are incredibly attentive and are worthy of their reputation as Russia's best hotel.
I can strongly recommend that caviar bar in the hotel
I recently stayed at Grand Hotel in St. Petersburg (December) and it was super!
Yes, you can have at the same time a good deal (if you are not travelling over New Year Eve) and the feeling to be in a royal city.
The hotel has several restaurants but do not miss the the Russian one for a real vodka. Nice and tranquil location. For a great view of the city ask for a room on top floor (with terrace).
Fancy an Opera tonite?
The best hotel in Town, I had an amazing stay especially due the the friendly staff.
Great Location, just a walking distance from the opera and the ballet theater.
I would recommend it to anyone going to town.
Would recommend this hotel
This hotel is fantastic. My husband and I recently spent 4 days at the Grand Hotel Europe as part of our honeymoon and it was the most romantic 4 days of our lives, I would definitely recommend the hotel.
The service, food and room were all of a very high standard, we stayed in a Terrace Room which offered lovely views.
There are lots of restaurants at the hotel, we ate at L'Europe and the caviar bar which both offered delicious food.
I would love to return to Grand Hotel Europe one day.