weekend away - Magnificent Moscow
Written by Marina Chetner
At 867 years of age, Moscow shows no signs of slowing down. Rather, the sprawling metropolis is an energetic international hub, buzzing with 12 million residents and ranking second in the global billionaire stakes. This fascinating city is a melange of glitz, glamour, and a rich cultural heritage.
Moscow’s beating heart is its cobblestoned Red Square, hugged by the crimson-walled Kremlin, candy-coloured swirls of St Basil’s Cathedral, and the 19th-century premium shopping mall, GUM. As night falls, the whole area is brilliantly illuminated. From here, it’s a short walk to the Bolshoi Theatre, where watching a ballet performance from a balcony box seat is an unforgettable experience. The surrounding area draws Russia’s elite, who shop for designer labels at the adjacent TsUM and boutique-lined Stoleshnikov Lane. After visiting Prada, Fendi, and Van Cleef & Arpels, the terrace of Bolshoi by Novikov is the perfect perch for people-watching.
Art lovers can spend a day across the Moscow River at the State Tretyakov Gallery, the world’s largest repository of pre-1917 Russian art. The nearby New Tretyakov Gallery, housed in the Central House of Artists, wows with a permanent collection of 20th-century works by Kandinsky, Chagall, Russian Impressionists, and Soviet painters. A beautiful stroll along the river leads to leafy Gorky Park and the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art run by Dasha Zhukova. The space features exhibits by emerging talent, and has an excellent bookshop and café as well.
Quintessential Moscow is topped off with a lingering meal at renowned Café Pushkin. The restaurant’s aristocratic townhouse setting, old-world service, and Russian menu highlighted by beluga caviar with blinis add an elegant and imperial touch.
September 2014 marks four years since Lotte Hotel brought its 5-star polish to Moscow. The palatial Royal Suite is the largest hotel room in the city: it spans 490m2 and exhibits panoramic city views. Beauty editors and well-heeled locals frequent the luxe Mandara Spa for its signature Balinese massage. To tour the town in style, the hotel’s concierge can coordinate a car service from its fleet of BMWs and Jaguars.