I planned a one-week stay in Moscow in order to give us ample time to soak in the FIFA World Cup atmosphere, attend a few matches, and also visit the numerous noteworthy attractions here in the capital of Russia.
Since I was in town for a major sporting event, I found myself mired in a rather unforgiving situation in terms of hotel bookings. Rooms that were bookable on points were getting snapped up fast, while cash rates at mid-tier hotels were soaring into the region of $800 to $900 per night.
A seven-night stay was the ideal setting for me to deploy one of my hotel certificates from the Marriott Travel Packages, which prior to August 2018 had represented an amazing deal for spending Marriott Rewards points. In the end, the only Moscow hotel under the Marriott portfolio to open up an uninterrupted block of seven reward nights was the Marriott Moscow Tverskaya, located in the city’s northwest, about a 45-minute walk from Red Square via Tverskaya Street.
The location of the hotel wasn’t ideal compared to some of the other Marriott properties in town, but I was just happy to find a decent place to rest my head without having to shell out a small fortune.
Ordinarily, if you weren’t visiting Moscow in the midst of the world’s largest sporting event, the Tverskaya is pretty cheap at about $100 per night, while a free night would cost you 25,000 points in the new Marriott program.
The hotel is located on Tverskaya Street, just a few minutes’ walk from Belorusskaya Railway Station. Moscow’s major railway stations are arranged in a circular fashion around town with Red Square as the focal point, and Belorusskaya is one of the major transport hubs in the city’s northwestern districts.
Having stayed at an Holiday Inn Express near Sheremetyevo Airport the first night after we arrived, we then took the Aeroexpress train directly to Belorusskaya Station in order to check-in to the the Marriott Moscow Tverskaya.
The hotel’s exterior is quite unassuming, slotting into the Tverskaya street scene alongside its neighbouring buildings. The Soviet style of architecture is prevalent throughout Moscow, with wide multi-lane avenues such as Tverskaya flanked by endless buildings of uniform heights.
The entrance is covered by an awning bearing the word “Tverskaya” in Latin characters on one side and Cyrillic on the other. It was pretty clear from the signage that this used to be an independently-operated hotel known as the Hotel Tverskaya before it joined the Marriott family.
There’s also a second entrance on the opposite side of the building, which opens up to a smaller backstreet. It’s easier for vehicles to come around this entrance compared to stopping in the middle of the busy Tverskaya thoroughfare, so this is where you’ll likely be dropped off if arriving at the hotel by car.
The hotel building is in a thin rectangular shape. Upon entering through the front doors, you pass through a small security detector (something that was commonplace virtually everywhere during the World Cup) before finding yourself in the cozy lobby.
The front desks are located to one side of the lobby. As the associate processed our check-in, she informed us that as Gold Elite members with Marriott, we had been upgraded to a better room and could enjoy complimentary daily breakfast in the hotel’s Gratzi Restaurant until 10:30am each morning. She also asked whether we preferred a cheese plate or a fruit tray as our welcome amenity, and we chose the latter.
We headed around to the hotel elevators, which have a classy and historic feel about them. Riding them was lots of fun because of their old-school glass walls, which allowed you to watch the floors go by as you went up and down. The hotel building itself was designed in a very intriguing fashion such that the second floor has an open-air view of the ground floor, the third floor is a normal level with guest rooms, and the fourth to tenth floors all have open-air views with an interior atrium. The elevator was the perfect vantage point from which to appreciate the grandeur of the building.
Anyway, we had been assigned Room 502, the corner room on the fifth floor just a few steps from the elevator.
The front door opens up to a small foyer, which contains an office desk and a closet. The main bedroom and bathroom open up on opposite sides of the foyer.
The central fixture in the bedroom is the king bed, with two chairs and a small table positioned on the far side. A painting of St. Basel’s Cathedral atop the bed frame sets the scene, reminding you of the grand old city that you find yourself in.
There’s also a cabinet with the minibar inside and a television mounted on top. The availability of a full tea & coffee set here was very much appreciated as well. To me, coffee, tea, kettles, and cups are one of the most underrated in-room hotel amenities, since the ability to sip on a warm beverage whenever I want makes a huge difference to my overall impressions of the stay.
The room had two bottles of complimentary water placed in the bathroom and two bottles of premium water at the minibar. Now I’m not one to shell out on minibar water, though I really must comment on how ridiculously priced these bottles were. A large bottle of Evian could be consumed at a cost of 700 RUB, which is about $14. That’s crazy talk.
Even more crazy is the fact that after having no choice but to open the Evian water when Jessica had migraines one night, I was able to stroll out to the Mini-Market next door and buy the exact same bottle of water for 150 RUB, or $3, as a replacement.
Over to the bathroom, which is bright and spacious. The mirror and sink are positioned centrally, flanked by the toilet and the shower/tub combo.
Water pressure on the shower was just right – not too high and not too low. In terms of other bathroom amenities, the heated towel rack was a very nice touch, and I was also delighted to see that the hotel had bathrobes, since in the past I’ve found hotels under the Marriott brand to be hit-or-miss in this regard.
Upon entering the room, the first thing you notice is just how high the lofted ceilings are. Taken together with the rather antiquated decor and furniture, this gives the room quite the palatial charm, while also making you feel like you’ve stepped back in time by a century or two. Indeed, everything about the room – and indeed the hotel itself – feels very dated, but in a way that’s well in keeping with the character of the hotel, if that makes sense.
I’d be disappointed with a room like this if I were staying in, say, the heart of a bustling metropolis in Asia. But here in Russia, with Soviet-style buildings dominating the view of Tverskaya Street from the window, it somehow didn’t feel out of place at all, and I actually found the overall ambience to be rather satisfying.
In the picture above you can see the Saperavi Cafe, which serves delicious Georgian food; right next door to it is a Viet Express restaurant specializing in cheap Vietnamese pho. Both are great choices for a quick bite in the vicinity of the hotel.
Our Gold Elite amenity was delivered soon after our arrival on the first day of our stay. Since this would be our home for the upcoming seven nights, it was nice to be welcomed to the hotel with a plate of fresh fruits and a thoughtful card from the hotel manager.
During our time in Moscow, we adopted a more relaxed travel style and spent much more time in our hotel room than I’d consider normal for our other trips in big cities (it didn’t help that we caught a pretty bad illness that left us out of commission for a few days). We liked our room a lot and made full use of its features – the television always had the football on, the office desk in the foyer was excellent for productivity, and the bathtub was more than spacious enough for a long, warm soak.
Perhaps what most solidified our positive impressions of the hotel, though, was the daily breakfast. Breakfast is served in the Gratzi Restaurant on the second floor until 10:30am, and we maximized our enjoyment of it by eating breakfast here on all seven mornings.
The restaurant has ample seating options, including a few booths along the wall that opened up to the lobby level below, which was very cool. The buffet area was positioned on the far side of the room.
The breakfast spread itself is very impressive. The pastries were varied in their selection, the fruits and fruit juices were presented on a beautiful spread of ice, and the cold cuts were served alongside all sorts of garnishes.
Meanwhile, the hot items changed from day to day. On any given days, there’d usually be baked beans, fried tomatoes, sausages of some sort, a potato-based dish, and eggs prepared two ways.
The highlight of the breakfast spread was the young man in charge of preparing made-to-order eggs, whom we christened Omelette Dude over the course of our stay. He could whip up your eggs in any style, including omelettes with bacon, ham, or smoked salmon, and his work was perfect every time. Best of all, he was happy to make conversation with you as your dish was being prepared, and he always enjoyed cracking a joke or two.
Other items at the breakfast buffet included cereal and juices, and if you desire coffee or tea, the servers roaming around the restaurant were proactive in topping up your mug. By the last few days of our stay, the restaurant staff remembered who we were and welcomed us back each morning with one cup of black coffee each, which was always a nice feeling.
In terms of the hotel’s other facilities, the bar is located on the ground floor, in the corner opposite the front desks. We didn’t spend much time here, although we saw many guests huddled around the television every night watching the World Cup action.
The fitness centre is located on the third floor, although the facilities are somewhat basic. It’s essentially a rectangular room with a few treadmills, a few benches for free weight exercises, and a single exercise machine.
There’s no club lounge at the Marriott Tverskaya, and the closest thing to a quiet area in which to relax and work would be the open space in the atrium on the fourth floor. There’s lots of seating options with magazines for you to flip through, as well as a computer workstation with all the necessary gadgets – printer, scanner, and telephone. That’s more than can be said for many hotels out there that do have club lounges!
On the last day of our stay, I used the computer to print out our train tickets to St. Petersburg, as well as our Trans-Siberian tickets for later on.
As for the location of the hotel, it didn’t end up being as big of a deal as I had originally thought. Moscow has excellent subway connectivity all across the city, and with the Belorusskaya transport hub right on our doorstep, it was easy to get anywhere we wanted. Furthermore, the 45-minute walk down Tverskaya Street all the way to Red Square was quite illuminating as well, and we made the walk quite a few times to absorb everything there was to see along the way.
Going into my stay at the Marriott Moscow Tverskaya, I was content with merely having a place to stay in Moscow using my Marriott Rewards points, and wasn’t expecting all too much out of the hotel. Over the course of a week, though, I got very closely acquainted with the hotel room and found it to be a very comfortable place to hang out, and the delicious breakfast in the hotel restaurant added another dimension to the quality of my stay.
Next time I’m in Moscow, I’ll probably choose among some of the more centrally-located and perhaps more luxurious properties in town, given that it won’t be quite as busy as the World Cup period. However, I checked out of the Marriott Tverskaya with some great memories of my first trip to the Russian capital, and so I wouldn’t rule out a return at some point in the future.