"When I am asked about my future plans and dreams I usually tell that i am already here behind the desk personally creating memorable events for my guests taking into consideration their preferences and exceeding their expectations. May be one day I will welcome you in my hotel."
St Petersburg is well known as the cultural capital of Russia. Throughout the years, many tourists have come to visit the Hermitage Museum and famous Amber Room at the Catherine’s Palace and enjoy ballet or opera at the Mariinsky Theatre. All these highlights are essential, but in the meantime you could find yourself in the other St Petersburg: a city for locals; St Petersburg which I love and am glad to share with you; a city of classic and modern art, exquisite museum collections and new-style restaurants, wine stories and secret bars, and much more.
A hedonistic approach is observed in many aspects of life in St Petersburg nowadays. Quality of entertainment and pastimes has become highly valuable. To try and understand the new life trends of our city, I will let you experience a week as locals do.
Aristocratic mood for the start of a week
Following the path of aristocracy, we start the day with a unique collection of the Easter Fabergé eggs and 4,000 pieces of jewellery at the Fabergé Museum.
On your way to lunch, you may visit Eliseev Store, owned by rich merchants, where nowadays you may find fish and meat delicatessens, exquisite beverages and traditional Russian chocolate.
Being inspired by an Imperial theme, have your lunch at the Tsar restaurant, experiencing the gastronomic traditions of Tsar’s cuisine. On your way back to our hotel, do not forget to stop by the Imperial Porcelain Factory store at Nevsky Prospect and buy a traditional Cobalt Net porcelain tea set, which is one of the trademarks of St Petersburg, or an elegant Natasha with Golden Stripe tea set.
Hurry up, it is time to prepare for the Mariinsky or Mikhailovsky Theatre visit. Ask your concierge if you need assistance with tickets, an evening dress, flowers for the prima ballerina or roundtrip transport.
The final touch to your evening will be dinner at the Palkin, the oldest restaurant in town, with Russian aristocratic cuisine.
Food, fashion and jazz
There are two streets near our hotel where you may enjoy luxury shopping: Nevsky Prospect and Bolshaya Konushennaya Street. One of the oldest shopping malls is DLT, which opened its stores in the times of Leningrad. Remember that you may get a VAT refund here. If you wish to spend more time shopping, you may also visit Outlet Village Pulkovo. The middle of the week would be the best time to visit, with fewer crowds in the stores.
For lunch, I suggest you visit KOKOKO restaurant, which is a good place for trying new Russian cuisine made with local products, designed to follow the contemporary trend of the restaurant industry. The restaurant is quite popular, so be prepared to pre-book a table in advance.
My advice for the evening is a two-hour jazz concert at the 48 Chairs restaurant with Mediterranean cuisine.
Art and Gastronomy
The middle of the week is the best time to discover a great collection and contemporary exhibits at the Hermitage Museum. Do not forget that on Wednesdays it’s open until 9:00pm. You could start your day with a visit to the General Staff Building, enjoying the Impressionists and modern art. Have a lunch break at the newly opened Hamlet & Jacks restaurant with original chef’s cuisine near the Hermitage and come back to the museum’s main building, Winter Palace, around 4:00pm. While experiencing classic art, do not forget about the art of vintage wines and have dinner at Molto Buono restaurant.
Secrets and mystery of St Petersburg
Starting with a tour to Yusupov Palace, find yourself in one of the most beautiful and, at the same time, mysterious palaces of St Petersburg, where famous monk Rasputin was murdered. My suggestion for lunch is the Russian cuisine of DOM restaurant, which keeps several legends of the Decembrist revolt in 1812. The waiter will share these stories with you. For the late dinner, I offer you the chance to visit Moroshka for Pushkin restaurant. It’s a fact that the greatest Russian poet, Alexander Pushkin, often visited a food market located at this place centuries ago to buy his favourite berries, moroshka.
For the evening entertainment, I suggest the secret Kabinet bar. Styled as a secret poker club, it offers the best cocktails in town, along with live piano music. Ask me to get the address and instructions, because it is not possible to enter the bar without special prearrangements.
Let’s get the party started
Friday is a favorite day for locals because the weekend promises lots of fun and Monday is far away. During the day, enjoy your walking tours around the citycentre, but save some of your strength for the evening because I have prepared an intense entertainment program for you.
You will start with a musical show at the Leningrad Center, and be ready for the striking mix of acrobatics, gymnastics, music and dance. Then, as a pre-party, you are going by taxi to the Big Wine Freaks restaurant. Ask our concierge to book a table or places at the bar. Friday night will be continued at the Buddha Bar. You can stay there until very late, because it’s located within ten minutes’ drive of the hotel and in the same part of the city considering the Neva River sides. Excellent music, delicious Asian cuisine, which is quite popular among locals, and perfect service – your Friday night party will be great!
After the long and tiring Friday night, it is the best time to focus on your wellbeing. My first suggestion is to follow an old Russian tradition by going to Degtyarnye Bani (Russian sauna) on Saturday, early afternoon. You may enjoy this time for your health in a modern way, having a Thai massage at the Banyan Tree SPA. As a result of both, you will feel as if you are born again and ready for new adventures. And you could go to a wine tasting at Wine Boutique Caudal or have dinner at the Blok restaurant, which specialises in steaks, or try Russian drinks at the Madbaren.
Relax and enjoy
On the last day of the week, you may visit one of St Petersburg’s suburbs, either Pushkin or Peterhof, as locals often do. Do not miss Sunday branch at The Repa restaurant, enjoying the modern interior by famous fashion designer Alyona Akhmadulina. Enjoy a slow walk in the city centre to the Grand Palace Cinema and watch a new film in the most comfortable cinema in St Petersburg. Call us to find out for you what’s on the playbill. If you feel hungry, go to Goose Goose restaurant for the best gnocchi in town or just order our comprehensive room service to your room at Kempinski Hotel Moika 22.
And my best advice: please come back to me. I will always find something new and interesting for you personally.
Chief Concierge at Kempinski Hotel Moika 22 St Petersburg
Executive Board member Les Clefs d'Or St Petersburg, Russia