The Luxury Travel Bible - LUXURY HOTELS: Hotel Nikol'skaya, Moscow

LUXURY HOTELS: Hotel Nikol'skaya, Moscow, Russia 
CAVIAR FOR  breakfast? Yes please. After all we are in Russia and the buffet at the newly opened Hotel Nikol'skaya in Moscow is practically dripping with the stuff. Pearls of red caviar sit on ice amongst piles of smoked salmon and blinis so it would be churlish not to eat it.
The morning meal isn't the only extravagant thing about this property.  The glitzy new hotel pays homage in equal measure to the pomp of Imperial Russia and the new moneyed Moscow.  Think acres of marble, plush velvet, silk wallpaper, gilt and gold leaf. Chairs are laced with gold embroidery, bathrooms have bronzed mosaic and the Presidential Suite even has a golden sink.  The Romanovs would have felt at home. So too Russia's new breed of super rich.

kempinski cigar bar
kempinski cigar bar
executive suite
kempinski junior suite
kempinski lobby
kempinski lounge
kempinski mojito

It is all very tastefully put together and there is humour in amongst the opulence...Fake masterpieces line the walls (Chagall, Klimt, Kandinsky; all with a clever modern twist)  and  desk chairs are upholstered in gold leather, just for fun.
The ceiling of my sixth floor suite is fourteen feet  (4.2 metres) high; In front of me the massive windows are framed in gold like an oil painting, their drapes so long they could be the stage curtains at the Bolshoi. It is a grand set for me to make an entrance on. Sadly I'm not sure I do the place justice, at the very least I should be arriving swathed in furs like a countess out of  'War and Peace'.
The hotel was once apartments owned by Count Orlov-Davydov, one of the richest men  in imperial Russia and the historic facade has been preserved.  Until recently the hotel was managed by Kempinski and elsewhere in Moscow the equally historic Hotel Baltschug Kempinski , one of the first truly five star lodgings in Moscow, still is. 
The newly-opened Hotel NIkol'skaya sits in the heart of the city. Russia's history fans out all around it. Red Square, the Kremlin and the glorious onion-domed folly of St Basil's Cathedral are a mere sabre toss away.  The pedestrian street of Nikol'skaya lined with some of Moscow's most exclusive stores is right outside the hotel. At the end is every Oligarch's favourite shopping Arcade, GUM, with scarily sky high prices and desirable-designer-labels (TsUM department store on Petrovka Street is even more overwhelmingly extravagant). look in the other direction and the imposing face of the old Lubyanka, once the headquarters of the secret police is a bleak reminder of Soviet times.
It is easy to stroll out of the hotel and into the action and like a Matryoshka doll, the city reveals more layers the more you look.  One evening, late for the ballet, we even managed to run the distance between the hotel and the Bolshoi Theatre in eight minutes flat.

kempinski mosaik
kempinski mosaik
kempinski pool
kempinski presidential suite
kempinski prssidential lounge

The hotel's restaurants will also keep you occupied. MosaiK (named because of the original porcelain tiles on its ceiling) serves several types of caviar (naturally) as well as traditional dishes such as Borsch or Stroganov, and a mix of European fare. Tavola, an Italian bistro serves all things pasta related and as well selling as olive oil and wine in its gourmet shop., calorie -loaded cakes tempt in the lobby lounge and bar. When I visited the Cafe Vendome and the Robusto cigar bar were yet to open. Upstairs dustsheets were till throw over the booths in the  rooftop  Mojito Lounge but things were looking promising with panoramic views of the city, shiny walls and a mind boggling variety of Moijtos on the bar menu (forget vodka, modern Muscovites prefer anything but...)
Equally glamorous is the new the L.RAPHAEL spa, the first in Russia. The centrepiece of which is a ten metre pool  with treatment rooms and a gym on the upper wrap around balcony.
Reto Wittwer, CEO of Kempinski Hotels told TLTB, "'if the staff are not right, then it is not a luxury hotel", so he'd be justly proud of the people in his new Moscow landmark. And when you are greeted on arrival by someone called Anastasia how could you fail to feel a spirit of place? The head Concierge Igor also deserves a medal, one of those shiny ones Peter the Great was so fond of handing out. 
 
They sell impressive replicas in the Kremlin gift shop , I think I'll get him one.
 
Check in: Hotel Nikol'skaya Kempinski Moscow, St. Nikolskaya 12, 109012 Moscow, Russia
+7(495) 9677776, +7(495) 2872720
Key Count:  211 rooms & suites
Ultimate Luxury:  The two Presidential Suites or the Belle Époque Orlov Suite,  named after the first owner of the building, Count Orlov-Davydov.
Most Indulgent Moment: A swim in the amazing swimming pool at the L.RAPHAEL spa , in a two floored setting , with a  wrap-around balcony.
Insider Secrets: The sixth floor is the only one with those towering high ceilings -worth requesting.
The Little Things: Free wi-fi (yes!) and complimentary newspapers in Russian and English.
Junior Luxies: Not specifically catered for but welcomed as long as they don't stick their fingers in the caviar.
Dress code: Be-coated as you enter the lobby in winter you have to have a fur trim at the very least, if not a fur hat or better still a complete animal... not politically correct but the norm in the frozen months.
Dent in the platinum:
Luxury Hotels Link: www.kempinski.com/nikolskaya
 
Hilary Doling 10/12/13
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