W St Petersburg
What is it? W St Petersburg stands out in the city of the tsars, where the best luxury hotels are usually located within grand historic buildings. The hotel, which opened in April, is a hip designer property with sleek contemporary furnishings.
Give me one reason why I should stay here: the hotel is surrounded by 18th-century imperial buildings. And the location is handy for tourists; it's just across the street from St Isaac's Cathedral, a monument that dominates the historic city centre's skyline, and within walking distance of historic attractions such as the Hermitage Museum. There are restaurants and nightclubs nearby, too.
But wouldn't the atmosphere of a historic building be more appropriate? History is everywhere in St Petersburg, it spills out of the city's museums and palaces and across the grand boulevards. Historic buildings house cafes, shops, banks as well as luxury hotels. W St Petersburg's innovative design sets it apart from the plethora of baroque-style lodgings. Italy-based design firm Antonio Citterio and Patricia Viel Partners has used contemporary concepts, vibrant colours and sleek lines throughout the hotel. The facade is German Jura marble and limestone. After being bombarded by historic sights, it's relaxing to put your feet up in a hotel that has a fresh look; one that is post-Leningrad rather than pre.
What are the rooms like? Luxe with a capital 'L'. There are 137 rooms, including Mega rooms (above left), and four categories of suite including W Suites, Fantastic Suites, WOW Suites and the Extreme WOW Suite. W's signature beds are comfortable and come with feather-top mattresses, 350 thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets and goose down duvets. Rooms also come with luxurious extras such as plush W robes, Bliss Spa toiletries and fun Munchie Box treats.
What about the facilities? Take a dip in the Wet splash pool, relax in the rooftop lounge after a Russian banya (sauna) or check in for a pampering session at Bliss Spa, which offers treatments such as the super-relaxing Blissage75 and Triple Oxygen treatment. There's also a nail lounge and boutique.
Where are the cool spots to hang out? Try the Living Room (above right) for a laid-back vibe, cocktails and music. The sleek salon is decked out with brightly coloured furni- ture and a cosy fireplace. The miXup bar (open all year) and terrace (open from mid-May to mid-September) are lively spots in which to tune in to up-and-coming DJs while admiring the views of St Isaac's Cathedral.
What about the food? In tsarist Russia, French culture and food were favoured by the aristocracy. French (not Russian) was the language spoken by nobles. So it is perhaps fitting that Michelin-starred French chef Alain Ducasse upholds the Russian tradition of embracing French flair at miX, his first restaurant in the country. The cuisine is French with a Russian twist. Try the Kamchatka crab caesar salad. The set lunch menu is reasonably priced at 500 roubles (HK$120) for three courses.
What's the bottom line? Rooms are priced from 12,590 roubles a night plus 18 per cent occupancy tax.
W St Petersburg is at 6 Voznesensky Prospect, St Petersburg, Russia, tel: +7812 6106161; www.wstpetersburg.com.