January 01, 1997

Safe as Hotels

Where we asked our departing Managing Editor Robert Greenall, who has logged many a night in hotels across the breadth and depth of Russia, to sum up the Russian hotel scene. And to pull no punches...

Though the accommodation options for visitors to Russia have broadened considerably over recent years, many still have to rely on one particular public institution that often inspires more dread and loathing than expectations of comfort and safety. The hotel in Russia seems to have retained its stigma of cockroach-ridden fleapit, while acquiring additional charms, like in-house prostitutes, Caucasian mafia sleazeballs and extortionate prices, specially for foreigners.

Even the new, top-of-the-range Western-style hotels in Moscow and St. Petersburg seem to have started attracting their own type of ‘upmarket’ criminal. The Radisson Slavyanskaya in Moscow, hailed just a few years ago as a shining example of Russo-American cooperation and friendship, is now believed to have a higher percentage of gun-carrying people in its lobby areas than any other place in town. St. Petersburg’s Nevsky Palace coffee bar, meanwhile, became the scene of a shoot-out last year, where a British businessman was killed by stray bullets.

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Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

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