Moscow's hotels have done much to promote the city's newly vaunted reputation as one of the most expensive destinations in the world. Finding a hotel room in central Moscow for under $500 a night now requires a small miracle. The city government, which owns many hotels in Moscow (such as the five-star National), isn't helping matters much. Officials have promised to encourage construction of more three-star hotels, but have also rushed to cash in by razing ugly but affordable old Soviet standbys to make way for more luxury accommodations. And due to a chronic shortage of hotel space, most hotels are always nearly full to capacity, regardless of the price.
It is worthwhile to stay within sight ofor at least one metro stop fromthe Kremlin to enjoy Moscow's historic charms, but tourists without bottomless pockets often end up in outlying districts such as Izmailovo, where doubles in a massive complex of interlinked hotels start at about $130 (www.izmailovo.ru). Bargain hunters should keep in mind that Moscow hotels are geared toward corporate travelers and their expense accounts, so hotelseven pricey onesare more likely to run discounts on weekends and even in summer. Find out directly from the hotel you choose whether breakfast and the 18 percent value-added tax are included in the quoted price. If not, they can be an unpleasant surprise. And be aware that while some hotels are adding free Wi-Fi to their rooms or common areas, or have free computer terminals for guests to use in the lobby, others charge the ruble equivalent of $30 a day or more.
On a brighter note, some more offbeat options in the form of boutique hotelsa new phenomenon herehave begun to appear. The Golden Apple, for example, may be a taste of what lies ahead.