Grand Hotel Europe – St. Petersburg

June 20, 2007

Linda and I stayed for six nights from June 11, 2007 at this historic hotel. We had a spacious Belle Chambre overlooking the Nevsky Prospekt; the double windows kept it quiet. The room was well furnished, the air-conditioning worked and the floor of the elegant bathroom was heated. This hotel is trying to do whatever it can to be the leading luxury hotel of the city; we were very happy with the ambience and friendly service. For us the location was better than the other upscale hotel complex of the Astoria, the Angleterre and the upcoming Four Seasons on St. Isaac’s Square. 

The Grand Hotel Europe is very expensive, both in its room rates and for extras. One night we took a hotel car to a restaurant for 750 rr ($30) and a cab back for 400 rr ($16.) Saint Petersburg is simply very expensive for foreigners. It seems to me that one should either go on a tour, as 95% of the tourist visitors seem to do, or just decide not to worry about the price. (Well, up to a point; see The Caviar Bar and the breakfast buffet below.) 

The hotel’s guest services and concierge desks were very helpful. There is also an excursion desk which we did not use. The hotel had been helpful in issuing us the “invitation” one needs for a tourist visa. There is a good guest internet access room and wifi for those who have their own laptops in their rooms. There is a fleet of hotel luxury BMWs with uniformed drivers which will take you anywhere, pick you up at the opera etc. 

The hotel’s leading restaurant, L’Europe, is usually rated as the best in the city. We did not dine there because it features French cuisine accompanied by a small show of musicians and dancers which vary by the evening.  We dined just after arrival at the smaller restaurant: The Caviar Bar. I had envisioned enjoying spoonfuls of caviar with all the trimmings, but the showcase offering was 15 grams each of Beluga, Oscietra and Sevruga, with blinis etc for 4,200 rr ($170) per person; plus the cost of the second courses; vodka or champagne; the 18% VAT and the optional tip.  

An amuse-gueule of smoked duck was offered. A tray of nice, flaky pastry triangles stuffed with cabbage, meat or mushrooms came next. Linda ordered 15 grams of Sevruga with blini and sour cream which was good. gha.jpggha.jpg

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I started with a Russian Zastolje, an abundant mixture of smoked fish with cucumbers and a dash of Sevruga on a slice of egg. 

 

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Linda continued with an elegant plate of the house-smoked salmon. 

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I had the fried pike-perch.   We had ordered Russian champagne at the start. When our glasses were empty, they were refilled. During our meal a violinist, a guitarist and a singer arrived. Their repertoire was mixed Russian and Hollywood. We escaped for only 4,870 rr ( $120.) 

In the middle of the Grand Hotel Europe is the Atrium Café. It opens at 9:00 for coffee with pastries, and later serves light lunches, snacks etc. Some times the hotel harpist plays there. The ambience is very nice. The hotel also has an Italian restaurant, Rossi’s; a Chinese restaurant, Chopsticks; an outdoor terrace café. opet_524x250_bar_lobby12b.jpg

The busy Lobby Bar is open 24 hours a day for drinks and light snacks, including early coffee. The Baltic beer on draft is excellent.

The main breakfast offering is in L’Europe with a sensational buffet from 7:00 at 1,200 rr ($48.) ghf.jpgghg.jpgghh.jpg

There is a large variety of juices, yoghurts, breads, rolls, pastries, smoked fish, sliced meats, cheeses, sausages, bacon, soups, crudités, fruits; there is a young chef flipping omelettes, scrambling and frying eggs. ghh.jpgghh.jpgCoffee, tea and hot chocolate are offered by the omnipresent staff which will whisk away each plate as soon as you have finished it, but you can just fill another. It is all too much for breakfast, but we found it useful the mornings after the opera when we had skipped dinner.

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I had a nice continental breakfast from room service one morning. Another morning we just had coffee in the Lobby Bar as we didn’t want to have the big buffet and the Atrium Café was not yet open. The cafés and coffee houses along the Nevsky Prospekt, and anywhere in Saint Petersburg, do not open before 9:00.  

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