Russia - From Russia with Love

Visited by Nikki

Welcome to Russia!

I enjoyed a few days in Russia with our DMC; RUSMICE and visited both St. Petersburg and Moscow. I flew in to Pulkovo Airport in St. Petersburg and from here transferred to Vasilievsky Island, to visit the Icebreaker Krasin; a floating museum of Arctic exploration.

The Icebreaker can accommodate a group of 20 pax for cocktails and a Red Army Choir can also be arranged, which is a nice way to start the trip for small groups. Whilst one half of the group has cocktails, the other group is shown around.

Visa

You can apply for a Russian Visa by completing an online application, printing it off and taking it to your nearest Russian Visa Application Centre / passport centre and your fingerprint will be scanned.  You will be asked to add all the countries you have visited but there is only space for 10 countries, which was lucky for me!  The online application can take around 1 hour to complete and you do need details of your old passports, as well as your parent’s names and addresses.  Please note that a great deal of of information is required. 

ST. PETERSBURG

This fairytale city is one of the most beautiful cities in the world with winding canals, beautiful summer palaces, including the Winter Palace and the world-famous Hermitage Museum, so this city offers an amazing array of superb venues for those very special events. A special option could be to arrange drinks on the river and at midday you can arrange for the group to shoot the canon, which is fired every day in St. Petersburg.

The Hermitage Museum - the former Winter Palace of the Tsars has panoramic views of St. Petersburg and it is possible to arrange private viewings for groups at 09.30 and after 18.30. There are many beautiful landmarks, such as the Palace Square, Church on Spilled Blood, and St Isaac's Cathedral, here you can organise a choir before the cathedral opens and this can accommodate up to 11,000 people. Also near St. Paul's fortress our DMC can organise helicopter trips that last 10-15 minutes.

Belmond Grand Hotel Europe

I had the pleasure of staying at the Belmond Grand Hotel Europe which is situated on Nevsky Prospect, the best known of the city's boulevards near the Hermitage.  The hotel has 266 suites and guest rooms and the Grand Hotel’s banquet and conference facilities are available for up to 250 people.

Mansarda

Drinks were arranged at Mansarda; a chic modern and upscale restaurant and bar overlooking St Isaac’s Cathedral and St. Petersburg rooftops. You can enjoy drinks outside on the roof top terrace and if it gets too cold you can enjoy a shot of Russian Vodka to warm you up. The cuisine is European-Asian.  For dinner the restaurant can seat up to 130 pax for groups.

Stroganoff Steak Restaurant

A short walk from St Isaac’s Cathedral, Stroganoff Restaurant used to house the Revolution Barracks and Stables of the Horse Guards Regiment. The menu specialises in large steaks and chops, as well as Russia’s famous beef stroganoff. The total capacity is 450 for the restaurant on an exclusive basis and for groups you can comfortably split 180 into two groups of 90 in two separate rooms.  They also have a screen at the restaurant for company presentations.

Russian Vodka Museum

Russian Vodka Museum is the first of its kind in not only Russia, but the entire world as is dedicated exclusively to Vodka. Its exhibition educates visitors on the drink, which has been an integral part and essential attribute of Russian life for centuries. Vodka tasting can be arranged for groups from 1 – 70 pax.

St. Petersburg local market City Challenge

Near St. Petersburg Vladimirskaya metro station is an amazing market selling everything from fruit, vegetables, honey, meat, gifts and antiques. The market can be used for groups where they will mingle with the locals and complete tasks; i.e. find a statue where a KGB agent awaits to ask questions to the groups. Also during the challenge, Russian ladies and gentlemen can be arranged for serving, plus actors can be included. There is also the option to arrange for a band to play. Number of pax: 15-20

Kempinski Hotel

Kempinski Hotel has 200 rooms and I was treated to a beautiful lunch at the modern and panoramic Bellevue Brasserie specialising in French cuisine as well as famous Russian dishes. With its 360-degree view of the city, this trendy restaurant really is the place to see and be seen. Capacity up to 90 pax

Other Hotels visited:-

Dom Boutique Hotel  / Four Seasons  / SO Sofitel / Astoria / Angleterre - 4* good for low budget groups.

Additional ideas

Trams can be arranged with Vodka tasting - 30 pax

Marble State Palace - Gala dinner can be arranged for up to 100 pax

Peacock Ceremony at the Hermitage Museum can be arranged for up to 400 pax

Vladimir Palace (White Hall) a musical performance and champagne can be organised here for up to 120 pax

Mariinsky Theatre - Backstage tours for groups up to 20 pax / Gala dinner upto 200 pax and violin player or performances (i.e. ballet, singer can be organised.

Ginza Project – Groups up to 120 pax can enjoy lunch and then a walk to the pier to enjoy a boat trip.

Russian Empire Restaurant & Cellars

The Stroganoff Palace was built in 1752 and was the centre of cultural life in imperial St. Petersburg. The restaurant “Russian Ampir” is settled in this historical building and carries on the tradition of Russian culture.

There are 5 five beautifully restored dining halls in the restaurant and palace “Russian Ampir”. The tables are served with 24 karat gold cutlery, exclusive porcelain of 18th century and crystal wares encrusted with gold. Many of the recipes were recovered from the cookery book of the Imperial Winter Palace; among them were recipes of Stroganoff’s family. There are secret rooms in the Cellars where you can enjoy a glass of Prosecco with caviar or canapés for up to 10 pax.

Buddha Bar

Opening on two floors, upon arrival, you're immersed in the heart of ancient Asia. The dining room upstairs hosts 220 guests and has a private rooms as well as a "Wine Room". Downstairs you could seat a small group of 20/30 pax but the majority of the groups are hosted upstairs.

MOSCOW

I travelled from St. Petersburg on the Sapsan speed train to Moscow which took approximately 4 hours. I loved Moscow - it has a completely different atmosphere, a bustling party city with lots to do, I felt Moscow was more suited for Incentives and St. Petersburg is more about the culture.

The Kremlin is Moscow’s heart, with its many cathedrals including St. Basil’s with its well-known cupolas. The Red Square lies along its east side, the Moscow River on its south. From here Moscow spreads out in four distinctive rings of development with all the major tourist sites situated comfortably in the first ring, although each area has its own collection of monasteries, museums and elegant buildings to visit.

Visiting the Red Square is a must - the most famous city square in Moscow, as well as a stop at GUM; the most ancient and beautiful store in Moscow, where you can hold a conference in the exhibition hall. 

The following ideas can be arranged at the Kremin:

Exclusive visit to the Russian President’s residence – Grand Kremlin Palace.

Early or late opening of Kremlin grounds (Armoury) and visit Diamond Fund.

HOTELS IN MOSCOW

Ritz Carlton

During my stay in Moscow I stayed at the amazing Ritz Carlton located just off the Red Square, next to the Kremlin, in the heart of cultural and business centre. The hotel has 334 rooms and 10,700 sq. ft of meeting and event space including a 700 persons capacity ballroom. Also, they have a Rooftop 02 lounge overlooking the Kremlin and Red Square with infused cocktails and international cuisine.

Kempinski Baltschug

The Kempinski Hotel has 227 rooms and suites and is a great location looking over the Kremlin.  I was treated to the most amazing lunch and really felt welcome by Lada Samodumskaya – Director of Sales. I hope you enjoy the video of the Kempiniski Baltshuch

Other Hotels I visited

St Regis Hotel

Four Seasons Hotel

Moss Boutique Hotel

Cold War Bunker

I loved this tour; you descend 18 floors below ground and uncover soviet secrets by looking behind the ‘blinded door’. A KGB historian will reveal soviet secrets in Stalin’s Bunker. You can have a meeting upto 300 pax in the bunker and a Gala dinner can be arranged also for up to 170 pax (banquet style)

Valenok Restaurant is a trendy place with live music every evening. On Fridays and Saturdays Valenok turns into a clubbing venue: parties, live music and concerts with up-and-coming bands. The restaurant has high ceilings, a space atrium and windows on two floors; inside seats 340 pax and they also have an outdoor patio in the summer with umbrellas and tables, which can accommodate an additional 400 guests.

White Rabbit

Located under a glass dome on a 16th floor, I visited the White Rabbit.  This is a beautiful and modern venue, specialising in Russian cuisine with the latest culinary trends and the restaurant took 23rd place in the Top 50 Best Restaurants of the World.   An ideal group size would be 50 pax.

It goes without saying Russia is not a budget destination, especially if you want the best that the country has to offer, but it is a truly unique experience that is worth the money. The real Russia can be best summed up by saying "That from the outside the people and its buildings bear no resemblance to what is on the inside".

I had many preconceived ideas, but as my visit to both Moscow and St. Petersburg continued, they were left behind one by one, and I ended up giving Russia one of the highest satisfaction ratings of any visit I have ever undertaken.

This visit was brought to you by our DMC, RUSMICE