Clearly one of the world best kept gems, St Petersburg served as the Tsar’s capital for two centuries. Today, even after losing its political position and after decades of communist-era neglect it’s baroque and classical palaces and squares maintained their richness and ubiquity. The city that Tolstoy and Tchaikovsky loved is now witnessing new artistic compositions and contemporary creativity in all fields. In fact, this summer the city welcomed the new W hotel (with a Ducasse rooftop bar), the first new-build five-star hotel after the Bolshevik revolution. Still, the W is not the only five-star hotel, it will soon get a new competitor: the new Four Seasons and is already sharing its market with the Rocco Forte’s Astoria and the Grand Hotel Europe.
Dear art lover, if you go to St Petersburg don’t forget to visit the new contemporary art museum: Erarta. It was inaugurated last year in an impressive 1950s former research institute. For the Russian orthodox icon lovers, enjoy a walk through the smaller but no less sumptuous Russian Museum. For local luxury fashion findings, drop by Lykk Design Market and Banya Concept Store.
I suggest you all go to the Peterhof Palace (Russia’s Versailles) and to the Winter Palace. Set up by Catherine the Great in 1764 the royal collection is full with Russian imperial porcelain and old master’s treasures (ex: Raphael, Ruben, Picasso, Degas, Rembrandt…).
What I found most peculiar about St Petersburg is that despite Roman Abramovich’s recent USD 400MM purchase of the 18-acre New Holland Island and even though it is extremely chic, the city is still lower-profile than Moscow. You can sense a more casual idea of wealth. That is probably why concept stores expose Helmut Lang sportswear and Alexander Wang footwear.
I am writing this post now hoping I am just in time to help you plan your September vacations since it is the ideal season to visit St Petersburg with its cultural events and easy weather. If you can’t make it in September make sure to delay your trip until May or June to enjoy the white nights.
Hoping you’ll find St Petersburg as refined as I did,