Hotel Astoria, St Petersburg

as a show city in 1703 by Peter the Great,
St Petersburg
– with its foreign-looking baroque and classical
facades – intended to present
as a modern, westward-facing European power. Despite
losing its capital city status in 1918 and soon after its name
(changing to Petrograd in 1914, Leningrad in 1924 and back to St
Petersburg in 1991) the city remained a centre point for the

The stylish turn-of-the-century
Hotel Astoria
, plotted near the Hermitage Museum, speaks of
this bygone age. So too, hotelier Rocco Forte’s Italian roots speak
to the city’s sustained Europe-aligned mandate.

Host to rock royalty and Hollywood legends, prime ministers,
presidents and a papal, Hotel Astoria promises guests a luxury-led
oligarch-worthy stay.


The art-nouveau hotel, which opened in 1912, masters what many
falter in execution – the blending of classic and contemporary
style. Standout bedrooms span 86 spacious St Petersburg suites,
each individually designed by Olga Polizzi.

Come bedtime, the hotel’s turndown service takes the humble
chocolate on your pillow routine to new heights. Guests can choose
from a pillow menu – ranging from natural buckwheat to the “dream
cloud” (a quilted cotton satin and fibre ball combination) to
ensure the most restful night’s sleep.


Morning meals at the Astoria are a real treat, with row upon row
and tray upon tray of every foodstuff imaginable. Start with with
pickled herring, caviar and champagne (naturally) followed by
sour-cherry crepes. Room service is also an option, and where
better to consume prime pickings than from a silver tray than in
your bed, donning your cloud-like hotel robe, overlooking St
Isaacs. Tick for a copy of the morning papers and cast them aside
after that smug Insta shot (La Monde was a rogue choice anyway
considering that Francophile you are not).

How about lunch and dinner?

Reshuffle your schedule and block out two solid hours for some
midday cake sampling and tea brewing. Hosted in a lobby setting
surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows, sumptuous armchairs and the
centrally positioned dessert table, any time pressure ebbs away at
the Rotonda Lounge. For those uninterested in sweet stuff, the
pelmeni (a sort of dumpling) is a must-try.

Across the lobby, Restaurant Astoria offers a menu of French and
Russian cuisine and is open from 7AM-12AM. Alternatively,
neighbouring restaurant Borsalino serves Italian fare from brand
chef Fulvio Pierangelini.

Is there a bar?

Yes, the Lichfield Bar is a 24-hour watering hole paying homage
to the celebrated pensman, Lord Lichfield. Dark-wood furnishings,
art-deco lighting and striking black-and-white Chesterfields set a
distinctively seductive tone. Sit back and admire your surroundings
with a glass of ice-cold vodka.

Within a short distance you’ll find…

Located directly across from St Isaac’s Cathedral (which stays
open until 10PM daily) Hotel Astoria is conveniently positioned
among many of the city’s main attractions – including Nevsky
Prospect, Palace Square and the Mariinsky Theatre.

Take in a ballet at the Mariinsky (the concierge can assist if
you’ve yet to book tickets) and follow with dinner at The Repa.
Interiors here combine delicately handpainted balletic murals and
tastefully embroidered velvet swan chairs. Order pavlova for
dessert in a nod to its namesake, ballet dancer (and Petersberger)
Anna Pavlova.

Things you should know

Part of the Rocco Forte Group (Browns in London, Villa Kennedy
in Frankfurt, etc) this connecting dot should tell you all you need
to know about the quality of the hotel. Those requiring further
convincing can be coaxed by a comprehensive roll call of the
hotel’s most notable visitors – ranging from Elizabeth Taylor and
Sophia Loren to Jacques Shiraq to Vladimir Putin.