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Hotel Moskva

An Old/New Hotel

New hotel under renovation

You may not know it, but chances are good you've already laid eyes on a sketch of the old Hotel Moskva. The likeness of the 1930s-era Soviet hotel, located on the North end of Moscow's famous Red Square, graces the ubiquitous label of Stolichniya vodkas worldwide. The dual-winged building was demolished in 2004, but it has inspired worldwide "Hotel Stolis" – all-in-one entertainment centers featuring full-service concierges, spas and bars, and including suites with themes taken from various Stolichniya vodka flavors.

Now the inn whose name is synonymous with luxury is gearing up to reopen in the same spot – the one where its predecessor stood for more than seven decades sporting two distinct building styles due to a mix-up involving Soviet leader Josef Stalin and competing architects. The reopening is slated for early 2012, with the Four Seasons at the helm of operations of the 19-story, 180-room hotel. The reopening will take place in stages, with the first phase – featuring a trade gallery, cinema, office center, and an underground parking lot – to open in September 2011. The trade gallery will include high-end retail such as Yves Delorme, Carlo Pazolini, Celyn B. and Chanel. The hotel itself, as well as the 44 residences and 82 premium apartments slated to be on-site, are set to open in 2012.

New hotel under renovation

A lot of chatter has surrounded the grand reopening of the Hotel Moskva. Apple may open its flagship Russia store in a 16,000-square-foot retail space in the hotel complex; in March, Ron Johnson, Apple's senior vice president, and Apple Vice President Bob Bridger reportedly traveled to Moscow to look over the two-story shop area.

Other noise surrounding the hotel's reopening has been of a different nature. In late 2010 Russian lawmaker Ashot Egiazaryan fled to the United States following the eruption of a political imbroglio in which he was accused of having embezzled money from former Federal Agency for State Property Management Deputy Head Mikhail Ananyev to build the hotel and a nearby trade center. In early March, Russia's lower house of parliament granted approval for Egiazaryan's arrest for fraud.

The hotel gallery will include a number of trendy food hotspots for the elite traveler, including the Atelier of Nino Graziano, the world renowned master chef of Sicilian cuisine. Moscow's top restaurateur, Arkady Novikov, will bring his fine dining experience to the gallery, and a cafe and restaurant from the Mercada group, the Russian network of first-class restaurants in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Vladikavkaz, will open its doors in the hotel gallery. For the traveler who cannot go without her caffeine fix, the gallery will have a Starbucks, too.

Original Hotel Moskva in 2002, before being torn down

The hotel is opening at an opportune time for the global market – and for Russia in particular. The country expects millions of visitors to come through Moscow for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. U.K. travel agency Hogg Robinson Group Plc. recently named Moscow hotels the world's most expensive for business travelers for the sixth year in a row, with the price of a hotel room in the Russian capital averaging $415 per night. While this cost represents a slight decline from previous years, relatively consistent high prices in hotel rooms point to an uptick in business activity for a city. And that means we can expect to see the hotel booked regularly.

Some unknowns still surround the reopening of the hotel. It is not yet known exactly what retail the space around the hotel will feature, or how closely the modern architecture will resemble that of the original edifice. But one thing's for sure: if it's luxury in Russia's capital you seek, you'll be sure to find it here.

Hotel Moskva, 2 Okhotnyy ryad, Moscow, 109012, Russia

Spring 2011