The idea of a perfect day off in Moscow would have been ludicrous just a few years ago. Grim and foreboding then, Moscow today is much brighter. There’s a building boom, among other improvements fueled by oil, which has morphed Moscow into a compelling capital with a plethora of mind-blowing and sometimes unexpected options. The mood in this new hot spot is incredibly festive. You feel the presence of money in the streets.
The Kremlin is still on everyone’s must-see list, yet much of it remains closed to the public. Instead of a general tour, opt for a specialized tour of its palace apartments, home to Russian Federation president Vladimir Putin. The cost of this prized insider tour, subject to last-minute changes in Putin’s schedule, is a whopping $600 to $700. Other options include a tour of the Kremlin’s diamond vault or Stalin’s underground bunker.
The famed Bolshoi Theatre remains closed for renovations until January 2008. In its stead, arrange a tour of the New Theater, the Bolshoi’s temporary home during renovations. Tours of the rehearsal and costume rooms are especially interesting on the day of a performance.
Art enthusiasts may want to contact Tour Designs, Inc. (tel 800 432 8687, ) to arrange a studio tour and perhaps view private art collections. The tour company that works mainly through travel agents can make little-known adventures like these happen. Specialty tours should be arranged at least three weeks prior to travel. Keep in mind that booking early also helps secure the best guides — essential when touring Moscow.
A visit to the Old Tretyakov Gallery (12 Lavrushinksy Pereulok, tel 7 095 951 1362) should be high on lists of visitors interested in icons and Russian art. The New Tretyakov Picture Gallery (10 Krymsky Val, tel 7 095 238 1378) on the Moscow River is known for its 20th century Russian paintings by Kandinsky and Chagall. The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts (12 Ulitsa Volkhonka, tel 7 095 203 7412) features the work of renowned French Impressionists.
A tour of the impressive Christ the Savior Cathedral will leave you wondering at the impressive engineering feat required to build it. The cathedral was rebuilt in only four years after Stalin ordered the original destroyed — and replaced with a swimming pool — in 1931. Be sure to note the extraordinary mosaics. On a clear day, the view from its bell towers is spectacular.
Take a walk along Tverskaya Street (Moscow’s equivalent of New York City’s Fifth Avenue) from the National Hotel to Pushkin Square and you’ll notice that Hermes bags seem to outnumber people. Stop in Tsum, the high-end department store where even on the snowiest day when temperatures hover below zero, women will be scooping up next year’s summer wardrobe like it’s about to melt.
If your stay spans a weekend, ask your concierge to direct you to the Jewelry Mart at the New Tretyakov Gallery Exposition Center. Although the market does not run every weekend, if you’re timing is right it’s a great place to shop for beautiful designs at reasonable prices. Caviar lovers will want to bring home their share of the delicacy (maximum 200 grams per person and you will be searched at the airport). Your concierge will be able to point you in the direction of a good fish market for that purchase.
In this food-obsessed city, where new restaurants sprout like cabbages, Café Pushkin (26A Tverskoi Blvd.) is a standout. Noted for traditional cuisine, fans agree it is Russia’s best restaurant. Opt for the more casual atmosphere downstairs. 1 Red Square inside the State Historical Museum at 1 Red Square is another good choice. Oblomov (2 1905 Goda St.) is the place to go for old-style Russian cooking. Try to reserve one of their smaller rooms. The current “in” places for fashionable locals are Gallery (27 Petrovka) and Barashka (20/1 Ul. Petrovka). Both are products of Moscow dining guru Arkady Novikov who owns dozens of restaurants throughout the city.
COMO Hotels and Resorts offers travelers new immersive luxury retreats for 2022. Perfect for couples, small groups or solo travelers, the new COMO Journeys are available to book in Australia, Bhutan, Indonesia and Thailand.
IHG® Hotels & Resorts certainly has a lot to celebrate, starting with an incredible growth story. Over the past five years, IHG has acquired or launched six new brands: Six Senses® Hotels Resorts Spas, Regent® Hotels & Resorts, Vignette™ Collection, voco™ hotels, avid® hotels and Atwell Suites™. Most recently, IHG reached an important milestone with its 6,000th open hotel. The company looks to further expand its portfolio by 30 percent with 1,800 hotels in the development pipeline, with significant focus on growth in the luxury segment where IHG is positioned as one of the top two hotel chains.
Anantara Chiang Mai, the deluxe resort on the banks of Thailand’s Mae Ping River, relaunched the city’s most famous high tea experience, served on the terrace of the 100-year-old British Consulate that today houses the resort’s Service 1921 Restaurant & Bar.
The Hotel Bel-Air hosts a new end-of-summer BBQ with Master Chef Wolfgang Puck on the lawn of the hotel. The event is back after a three-year hiatus, set to take place Sept. 6. Guests will be able to enjoy an evening featuring backyard-style barbeque and seasonal summer favorites.
The Oberoi, Marrakech introduces its new holistic wellness program, SAHA. Meaning health in Arabic, SAHA aims to help guests reach their full wellbeing potential. The program operates on four key cornerstones: soul & spirit, active body, holistic treatments and a better plate.
ISN’T IT TIME? It's time to treat yourself to the vacation you deserve, and Celebrity Cruises® offers the perfect escapes. With an award-winning fleet of ships that sail to more than 300 destinations around the world, Celebrity will take you almost anywhere you want to go in style. Enjoy stunning staterooms and suites, culinary experiences imagined by Michelin-starred chefs and intuitive service. Celebrity makes sure your vacation is effortless from the start, which is why drinks, WiFi and tips are Always IncludedSM on every sailing.
Emerald Cruises christened its newest Star-Ship, Emerald Luna, in a ceremony in Amsterdam as it prepares to sail the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers of Europe. Equipped to host up to 180 guests, Emerald Luna saw many members of Scenic Group, the parent company of Emerald Cruises, attend the ceremony, including U.S. travel industry advocate and educator Vanessa McGovern, who took honors as godmother during the ceremony.