Searching for My Perfect Hotel in Moscow
It is time to start planning my trip to Russia next year. I will be going in February 2014 during the Sochi Winter Olympics but plan on stopping in Moscow first and Prague on my way out. I have decided to stay in Moscow for five or six days, depending on my flight. Time to find my perfect hotel in Moscow.
Right now, one flight option I am looking at has me arriving in Moscow at 11 pm. That is certainly not ideal but it seems to be one of the better options. It has a longer layover than I normally would book (over five hours) but the other option is only a one hour layout in Frankfurt. That is one massive airport and I do not believe I would have enough to make that connection even if the flights were all on time. This is February, dead of winter, so I will need to be a bit more cautious. .
First question you always ask yourself: how much do I want to or can spend? I am normally very frugal when picking hotels but I also prefer to stay in good locations. So before you can answer question one, you must ask yourself a second question: where in the city do you want to stay? My obvious answer to question two is near Red Square and the Kremlin. Question two’s answer now affects question one because if you stay central, the price usually increases. Moscow is a special city: hotels are CRAZY expensive to start with and they really climb once you get near the Kremlin.
I have decided to spend a bit extra on the Kremlin hotel. I have been saving up for years to visit Moscow and now is not the time to cheap out. Plus this is winter, I would prefer to be in the best location I can get so I can take those night pictures of the area. I prefer not to travel on the metro super late (after 9 pm maybe?) so this affects my decision in picking a hotel in Moscow.
I have picked my location. Next up: researching the area so your potential hotel is near the metro. Being near a metro stop is the most important reason for picking a hotel. I do not wish to spend half my day walking to the metro when I could be spending that time gazing down upon the body of Vladimir Lenin. 😉
First, I usually find a good travel guide book. My favourite is the Rick Steves series but he does not cover Russia so I pick up either Lonely Planet or Fodor’s. Both are very good options and in many cases, I use them both or along side Rick Steves when planning most trips. I find Rick Steves gives the best reviews for hotels. I have booked some great hotels from his recommendations (Rome and Munich in particular) and have never been disappointed.
I usually hit up Trip Advisor at this point to check out reviews of the hotels that I am considering. I now have about five hotels that I am seriously considering at this point. I have booked hotels due to ratings on Trip Advisor (Paris and Normandy last year) and I have never had a problem so I feel comfortable using this in my research.
The Moscow Hotel Final Five
So the top choices are: National Hotel, Hotel Metropol, Ritz Carlton, Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow and Hotel Savoy. All these hotels are ranked in the top 14 (out of 232) hotels for Moscow on Trip Advisor. I read through pages of reviews for all five. Through trip advisor, I can enter dates for my travel and it will give me the prices from Expedia, Booking.com, Travelocity and several other websites that I have used before.
I quickly discard the Ritz because holy hell, that is cccccccccch-ching. We are talking over $700. That is completely crazy. Goodbye Ritz!! Two other hotels have prices over $400 so they are quickly discarded as well (Ararat and Savoy). The ones remaining are the National, Metropol and Savoy. The prices are pretty similar and pretty equal in terms of reviews and location.
I always visit the hotel’s website directly to see if rates are better (they often are) and email the hotel directly to get rates which once again can often be the case (it is not this time). I have booked hotels through Priceline, Expedia, Travelocity and Booking.com so it all depends on where I can get the best rate. I also make sure I am signed up to any rewards program the hotel of my choice has and then go ahead and book.
Picking my hotel in Moscow has been very different as I have noted above. I have chosen location over price and decided to splurge a bit. In most other cities, I can find a good hotel without having to pay a great deal more to be in a good location (Paris, Munich, London, Rome and Athens are some examples). Moscow is a very different animal. It is the most expensive city in Europe and second worldwide. So this is not the city to go to on a tiny budget. I am okay with that; I am ready to spend some rubles. 😉