St Petersburg: A destination for Tsars
Our World | On 23, Jun 2011
…Following on from my previous blog, I would definitely recommend travelling to St Petersburg either when there is snow (Jan/Feb) or when there is blue sky (June).
Notable hotels include:
- Rocco Forte’s Astoria and adjoining sister hotel (the 4 star Hotel d’Angleterre)
- The Corinthia
- The deluxe Emerald Grand Hotel (boutique style)
- The privately owned Grand Hotel Europe (Orient Express) – with its fantastic location on the shopping street and great choice of F&B outlets
- And my personal favourite, the newly opened Kempinski.
At this point in time a group of 160 pax is the tops in my opinion, when trying to accommodate for transport, dinners, meeting space etc, at any of the hotels.
‘St P’ is much like Amsterdam as it is built on 23 waterways and 41 islands with a very wide river – the Nerva. You can take a dinner cruise or drinks on a canal barge along the waterways, where, at midday, the river’s bridges open for the tall ship traffic. Firework displays along the riverbank are easily organised and make for a fabulous dining experience.
While in Russia you must make use of the various modes of transport such as trams, horse and carriage, stretched limos, Russian military jeeps and the underground (the deepest metro in the world – these stations built in 1955, both outside and in and are like museums).
Entertainment could include the ballet, the circus, ice-fishing/skating/sleighing in winter, or you could relax in a Banya (jungle heated sauna, ice cold plunges or even birch twig beating – apparently it’s good for the pores!).
I stopped at a couple of large function venues on my visit; the military academy and for gala dinners I must mention the amazing neoclassical Yusupov Palace, remarkable in its rich and elegant decoration. Walk up the marble staircase red carpet with a glass of champagne in one hand and enjoy a viewing of the unique works of art, followed by dinner in the chandelier state room (its twin is to be found at the Negresco in Nice). Then there’s the ballet in the palace’s own private rococo-style theatre (160 pax max), simply magical (this is also where Rasputin was murdered by a group of monarchists)!
For something slightly different, head to the town of Pushkin (about 30 mins out of the city and close to the airport). There you will find talented architects, sculptors, painters and craftsmen created this Tsar’s Village with its gardens, parks, palaces and pavilions. The most significant area of the complex is Catherine’s Palace, which ranks amongst the most beautiful palaces in the world. Currently it contains more than 20,000 objects of art including several Faberge eggs and the gold décor is almost blinding.
You may have gathered by now that I was pretty impressed with this city. The suppliers are hungry to please and impress, there is SO MUCH to do and see, the hotels are of the highest standards, it’s close and frankly it leaves an enduring memory. It should be high on everybody’s list of places they want to visit. This is true incentive material.
Susan Sexton, Events Team