After heading up-north to St. Petersburg on the Baltic Sea, we returned to Moscow by way of a very comfortable ride on one of the Sapsan bullet trains. We had one more night in the Russian capital before making the long journey east on the Trans-Siberian Railway.
Having previously spent a week at the Marriott Moscow Tverskaya, this time around I was looking to book a hotel that’s located more centrally and also a touch more luxurious. However, given that the FIFA World Cup action was in full swing, the pool of hotels that could be booked using points was very limited.
I had originally booked a room at the Hotel National, part of Starwood’s Luxury Collection – a historic Moscow hotel sits on the edge of Red Square. However, when award space at the St. Regis Moscow Nikolskaya opened up a few days before our arrival, I couldn’t resist the urge to make the switch. I had heard so many great things about the St. Regis brand – arguably the most luxurious brand within the combined Marriott/Starwood portfolio – and was thrilled at the opportunity to try it out for the first time.
The St. Regis Moscow Nikolskaya had cost 16,000 Starpoints at the time, whereas under the new Marriott loyalty program, you’ll pay 50,000 points for a free night. Paid rates are around the $400 to $500 range, so I’d say it’s a decent value for your points.
As the name suggests, the hotel is located on Nikolskaya Street, a popular pedestrian street in the city centre branching off from Red Square. The closest subway station, Lubyanka, is easily reached on Line 1 of the Moscow Metro.
Having said that, the entrance is located not on the bustling Nikolskaya itself but along a side street. While the building exterior is rather unassuming, once you approach the hotel’s front doors you’ll see the glitzy entryway that betrays some of the opulence and splendour that awaits inside.
Into the lobby, where that splendour is now on full display. Mirrored surfaces set in black-and-gold panels evoke a sense of indulgent luxury.
The lobby lounge is located immediately in front of the entrance. This is a physically stunning space with a distinct feel of Russian decadence to it, brought about by the abundance of chandeliers and the colour scheme of white, beige, and dark ruby. We would return here later to enjoy the complimentary drinks we had received as our welcome amenity.
The front desks are located before the lobby lounge, immediately to your right from the entrance.
We were greeted by a very friendly associate upon our arrival, who walked us through the benefits we’d receive as an SPG Gold Elite member at the time (we’d get welcome drinks but unfortunately no complimentary breakfast), before saying, “I see you’ve emailed us about a suite upgrade and am delighted to confirm that we have upgraded you to the St. Regis Suite.”
Now, I had proactively emailed the hotel in advance of my stay to enquire about the chances of a suite upgrade, but ultimately I knew that they were very slim. Even SPG Platinum Elite members don’t always receive suites, and I was only a Gold at the time. Furthermore, this was the St. Regis after all, and I suppose I had thought that a brand of such exclusivity and sophistication would be highly reluctant to grant suite upgrades.
And so I barely registered anything the associate said to me after uttering those words; instead, I turned to Jessica in disbelief and whispered under my breath, “Did she just say St. Regis Suite?” Even as the associate motioned for one of her colleagues to walk us to our room, I still wasn’t 100% sure whether I had heard her right.
We were led to the elevators by a member of the hotel staff, who brought us up to the third floor. The glitzy appearance of the elevators was indeed a sign of things to come.
The hotel building is quite large, and the mazy hallways branch out in all directions with lots of curves, twists, and corners. You definitely need to pay attention to where you’re going, and you’ll almost certainly have a bit of trouble finding your room the first few times.
To say that the hallways were ostentatious would be the understatement of the year – the chandelier lighting, mirrored door frames, and snazzy carpeting got a little overwhelming at times.
Thankfully, a hotel associate walks every guest to their room upon checking in – it’s one of the first examples of the St. Regis’s impeccable service standards that you’ll encounter during your stay. We were thus led to Room 344, where the associate proceeded to give us a tour of our breathtaking St. Regis Suite.
The front door opens up to a foyer, where a vanity mirror and a large wardrobe can be found. From the foyer, the bathroom can be accessed to your right, while a set of steps leads down into the rest of the suite. A split-level hotel room is something I’ve never experienced before.
Down the steps you’ll find the main bedroom, and in it, a truly massive king bed. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if this bed were much bigger than the standard definition of a “king”, since I’ve stayed at many hotels with king beds that didn’t feel nearly as large.
The bed is flanked by two bedside tables – where you’ll find electronic light switches and complimentary bottled water – and bookended by an elaborate headboard and a wide bench along the foot of the bed.
Opposite the bed, one of the room’s two flatscreen televisions is mounted along the wall. The sheer spaciousness of our St. Regis Suite was incredible, and we were only getting started!
Adjacent to the television is a small alcove – a “den” of sorts. This part of the room contains a marble-topped cabinet, where you’ll find the minibar, coffee maker, tea kit, and complimentary bottled water.
On the other side is a desk made of polished wood, together with a plush swivel chair, a leather place mat, and some complimentary stationery.
Meanwhile, the far side of the bedroom opens up to a sitting area. The loveseat and chair are positioned opposite from another flatscreen TV, under the shine of a beautiful chandelier.
Both the bedroom and the sitting area have doors and windows looking out into a central courtyard on this floor of the building. The doors here are modified such that they can be opened to let some fresh air in, but not quite wide enough to allow you to exit into the courtyard.
Back up the steps, and into the bathroom. I expected fancy-pants bathrooms from the St. Regis, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.
There is a walk-in shower and a bathtub, both decked out in gold accents. While gold is a dominant colour throughout the suite itself, it’s really amped-up here in the bathroom, and the blinginess almost feels a little over-the-top. That’s the St. Regis for you, I suppose.
You can imagine how pumped I was feeling as the hotel associate walked us through all of the room’s features. Before she left, she explained to us one of the core amenities that’s unique to the St. Regis brand – butler service.
Essentially, St. Regis butlers are available to every guest at every St. Regis property, and can provide complimentary tea and coffee delivered to your room at a moment’s notice, as well as two pieces of complimentary garment pressing per stay. They can also take care of any additional needs and answer any questions you may have.
At the St. Regis Moscow Nikolskaya, butler service can be arranged at the front desk, via phone, or indeed via WhatsApp! There’s a dedicated WhatsApp number for the butler service at this hotel, and they were very responsive and diligent throughout my stay.
When the associate left us to our own devices, Jessica and I could hardly believe our surroundings. This was the first major suite upgrade we’ve ever received at a hotel (by that I mean beyond larger rooms and junior suites), and at a property like the St. Regis, that’s definitely something to be slowly savoured.
In fact, we were so in awe of the hotel that we eventually decided to change our plans the next day and catch the late-night train to Nizhny Novgorod rather than the morning departure, purely to take advantage of the late checkout and indulge in the luxury of the hotel for a bit longer!
Later that afternoon, the World Cup quarterfinals were on, and we opted to head up to the hotel’s lounge on the eighth floor to watch France take on Uruguay. The lounge isn’t an executive lounge with complimentary food and drinks, but rather it’s simply a space for relaxing, with casual food and drinks available to order. They had a big screen set up to show the football, and we ordered a light dinner of burgers and fries as we watched the game.
Needless to say, the prices on food and drinks at St. Regis hotels are extremely expensive, which makes sense given that most of the brand’s clientele are paying upwards of $500 per night for their room. If you’re redeeming points for a St. Regis, though, you might want to take your meals away from the hotel in order to avoid racking up a large bill.
The lounge has a rooftop balcony, which overlooks Nikolskaya Street and has decent views of the neighbouring Lubyanka Square.
After going for a brief walk to Red Square to take in our final sunset in the Russian capital, we returned to the hotel for the Brazil v Belgium match. We watched the game in the comfort of our room this time, and no you don’t have to ask – of course we had both televisions turned on!
The match was a nail-biter, so we ordered some tea via WhatsApp to calm our spirits. The tea was delivered within a few minutes, and was served in individual teapots, with a separate pot for sugar.
As we spent more time in the room, I began noticing the tiny details that I felt really set the St. Regis apart from other luxury hotels, such as the beautiful artwork on the walls and even the ornate patterns on the air vents.
After the match, we decided to head down to the lobby bar for our complimentary drinks, which we had received by virtue of being SPG Gold Elite members. I had done my research on the St. Regis brand and knew that it’s one of the parties claiming to be the inventor of the Bloody Mary cocktail; as a result, every St. Regis property around the world offers a unique Bloody Mary crafted by its local mixologists.
I therefore had to try the Red Maria, the signature Bloody Mary here that comes with a Russian twist inspired by the traditional borscht recipe. I can’t say I loved it, but it was certainly worth trying! Jessica opted for the less risky choice of a glass of white wine, and we sat down there for a good little while, sipping our drinks and enjoying the luxurious ambience around us.
Nightcap complete, we headed back to the room and prepared to turn in for the night. With heavenly-soft bathrobes embroidered with the St. Regis logo, you feel ensconced in luxury all the way until the moment your head hits the pillow.
The king bed was just as comfortable as it was humongous, and gave me the most comfortable night of sleep I’ve ever had at a hotel so far. But if for some reason you don’t feel the same way, the hotel has a dedicated pillow menu (!) with a dozen varieties of pillows available for you to choose from. That should help anyone staying at the St. Regis to wake up well-rested, no matter their sleep preference.
The next morning, I WhatsApped the butler service upon waking up, asking for some coffee. Jessica ordered an Americano, whereas I opted for a cappuccino, which was expertly crafted.
Breakfast is served in the hotel’s A Tavola restaurant every morning from 6:30am. However, we didn’t receive complimentary breakfast as Gold members, and since the purchase price was 2600 RUB ($50), we decided that some blini and soup at Teremok, a popular fast-food chain serving up Russian classics, would be a much wiser choice.
We headed back to Red Square for the morning to visit Lenin’s Memorial, which we hadn’t gotten a chance to see during our first stay in Moscow. In the afternoon, we returned to the hotel to savour the final few hours of our memorable stay.
I briefly checked out the fitness facilities, which are located on the basement level. The gym is squeezed into a small horseshoe-shaped area, and oddly enough, it’s decked out in a snazzy carpet just like the rest of the hotel, which isn’t quite the ideal flooring for a workout. On the bright side, there was a generous self-serve station with towels, water, and snacks.
The gym overlooks the hotel’s swimming pool on the lower level, which looks to be quite large for an indoor pool at a city hotel. There are a few lounge chairs set up, and also a jacuzzi on the far end of the room.
With our 4pm late checkout fast approaching, Jessica and I sprawled out on the massive bed for a while longer and indulged in a few more pots of butler-delivered tea. Before long, it was time to say goodbye to our incredible St. Regis Suite, and we digested the bittersweet feelings as we made our way out of the blinged-out corridors of the St. Regis Moscow Nikolskaya and towards Yaroslavsky Railway Station, the starting point of our eastbound journey along the Trans-Siberian Railway.
The St. Regis Moscow Nikolskaya gave me by far the most memorable hotel stay I’ve experienced so far. The feelings of excitement upon being upgraded to the St. Regis Suite were on par with when I flew First Class for the first time, so I’m very grateful to the front desk for their generosity. The hotel’s ostentatious decor left a deep impression on me, and the unbelievably serene night of sleep is something I’ll remember for a long time. I’ll be making every effort to stay here again on my next visit to Moscow.
Moreover, I’m delighted to have finally stayed at a St. Regis hotel, and I totally “get” the appeal of the brand now. Five-star luxury, premium amenities, and an impeccable service standard – exemplified by the personal butler service offered at all of their hotels – makes for a special experience every single time. I can’t wait to try out more St. Regis properties around the world.