Hotel Astoria, St. Petersburg $$$$
Concierge.com's insider take:
The top hotel in town is part of Sir Rocco Forte's collection (sisters include Hotel de Russie in Rome and the Angleterre here in St. Petersburg) and couldn't be better placed—by St. Isaac's Cathedral. As always with Sir Rocco's digs, the 213 rooms strike a balance between traditional and contemporary, leaning here toward the classic, in a winter palette of white, beige, blue, and red that was installed in a 2002 redo. There are parquet floors, brass bedsteads with Russian linens, dark-stained wood furniture (some antique), and white marble bathrooms—all hung on such good bones. (Note, however, that most Classic standard rooms have no external view but look out on the inner courtyard instead, as do the ten 650-square-foot Olga Polizzi–designed Ambassador Suites, which were opened in spring 2007.) The grand 1912 building has beautiful proportions, with spacious lounges and parlors downstairs; have caviar and vodka in the Davidov bar, and afternoon tea in the Rotunda Lounge in the opulent lobby. Plus, there's a gym and a Clarins spa with a sauna and Turkish bath, which opened in 2003. The hotel takes particular pride in its concierge team, who give insider tips, score tickets, and generally help to negotiate what can be a tricky city: At these rates, you should give them a thorough workout.
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