Though he’s not Russian, and certainly not of this time, I think of George Bernard Shaw as I huddle atop the Ritz-Carlton Moscow and sip vodka at its hip rooftop O2 Lounge. My thoughts turn to Shaw because of something he said. “I dislike feeling at home when I am abroad.” So do I, George.
Thankfully, this cool bar with its red velvet egg-shaped chairs and black slate floor is better than home. Like a magic carpet hovering above historic Tverskaya Street, this terrace bar melds with the pink Muscovite, late evening sky. Almost close enough to touch, a fairytale landscape haunts and thrills. The domes of St. Basil’s, like whimsical mushrooms from an illustration in a childrens book, compete with the vanity of the Kremlin and the eerie, mystical beauty of Red Square.
Moscow, for all of its European heritage and new found wealth, has not become heir to the homogenous world. It draws from its past while racing whole hog into the future. Delighting in its very differences and its contrariness, Moscow draws sustenance from deep rooted Slavic melancholy and creates, whether in excess or privation, an altered state of unreality that’s mesmerizing to visitors.
Celebrating old world opulence and extremes, the Ritz-Carlton Moscow is as intricate and elegant a gift to the modern day traveler as those Faberge eggs were to the Romanov daughters. Hedonists will thrive comfortably here, but even those less inclined to enjoy lavish pampering will become converts.
Who can resist doormen in tall hats with faces like Dr. Zhivago? Or, Frette sheets on feather beds in fulsome suites overlooking Red Square. Or, the meal of a lifetime, a Tsar’s breakfast that will set you back $700 per person. What’s on the menu? A bottle of Crystal champagne, Kobe beef steak with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and truffle omelette; foie gras “Au Torchon” with caramelized apple and pain brioche, not to mention a selection of imported Italian prosciutto and cheese, Beluga caviar with blinis, sour cream and quail eggs, seasonal fruits, pastries, freshly squeezed juices and hot beverages.
Reigning essentially as destination in itself, this hotel’s very opulence hinders guests desire to step outside its doors and experience Moscow. In fact, most visitors want to hunker down and enjoy every aspect of the palace hotel. Why leave when you can be treated like a Czarina within? And indeed, the hotel sparkles like a mini Moscow itself.
Consider the convenience of a butler for every experience you seek. Most popular is the night life butler who personally escorts guests through the maze of Moscow’s dynamic night life scene, ensuring entrance with ease to all the hottest clubs. Vodka drinkers appreciate the vodka “sommelier” who tutors novices and experts alike on the subtleties of over 400 types of vodka in the Ritz-Carlton liquor cabinet.
Gourmands revel at Caviarterra, with its lavish spreads of the enchanting black pearls and the fancy goods that add luster to them. It’s sumptuous, all right, but personally, I could spend all day in the Ritz-Carlton’s ESPA spa. Marveling at its gold and black mosaic of crystals and luxuriating in its jet lag treatment more than equals a full night’s sleep. And your dreams will be very, very sweet.