Programs: BA Blue, Hilton Honors Gold, Accor Platinum
My First FIRST!!!!!
I am pleased to announce I (+ Mrs Olybeast) will be having our first first experience to Moscow on my birthday for the bargain price of 120k avios + 90 quid. Some of you will have enjoyed the tale of my 24th birthday (in my sig), and I hope to bring you the next installment in a just-as-good trip report about my 26th birthday.
The itinerary is:
BHD - LHR
(My favourite Heathrow hotel, Travelodge T5)
LHR - DME
(Hilton Moscow Leningradskaya, in an executive room no less!)
DME - LHR - BHD
We have been assigned 4E/F in both directions.
Our Visas are underway to being processed.
Does anyone have any advice for us? Recommendations for Moscow in general?
Anyone stayed at this particular hotel before?
What time does the Concorde room open? Same as check-in which is 5am? Is that too early for champagne? (hint: the answer is no)
Thanks to everyone who has paved the way to this first first redemption.
Hilton is OK. It's one on the 7 Sister Stalin Buildings, that are very cool gothinc and always make me think of Batman . Good conversion too. Avoid eating in as its a mega rip off and don't bother with breakfast unless its included as its extortionate. Try one of the zillions of cafe's and have a Russian Style breakfast Sirniki Malinovy / Sirniki Klubnikoi (Russian spelling is Сирники Малиновы / Сирники Клубникой) which are cottage cheese pancakes with raspberries or strawberries.
Hilton location is NOT Central it's just off the Sadovy Inner Ring Road near Lenningradsky, Yaroslavalsky and Kasansky Railway Stations. However the Brown Ring Metro and the Red Metro Lines intersect there so transport is really easy.
For transport to Moscow, use the train from DME to Pavelsky Station (Павлетский Воксал) and then take the brown line from Paveltskaya to Komosomolskaya (Павлетская to Комосомолская) and go home the same way. BA232 and 233 timings mean Rush Hour and that can mean up to five hours in a taxi and a rip off, whereas the train is 45 minutes and cheap. BTW get the business class seats, much nicer!
Don't be scared of the metro. Yes it's in Cyrillic, but it is easy enough to recognise the station name, and as its all coloured and all the central stations are intersections, it's easy enough to get the red line to where it intersects with the blue line etc.
Things to do. You gotta do the Kremlin. BUT not on a Thursday when it's closed and make sure when you book, you take the Armoury (mini hermitage museum, well not that mini ha ha) and the diamon vault, as these are amazing places in the kremlin. They can be reached from the red line at your hotel to Bibliteka im Lenina (Библитека им Ленина) There are tons of museums, all accessible by metro.
Near the kremlin is the Ritz Carleton hotel. It's worth having a bite to eat (expensive, so don't eat a lot ha ha) on the top floor restaurant for the views over the kremlin and city in the Ice Bar/Miami Bar. In winter it really is made of ice and in summer, it has a Miami theme.
An off beat but very interesting place is the Novedivichi Convent at Metro Sporyivnaya (Спортивная). Recently renovated convent museum with lots of stuff to see and with the most amazing graveyard you have seen. All the Soviet Leders are buried there and all the important cultural people and post soviet mafioso. The gravestones are incredible, as they are not stones, they are monuments. The Mafia ones are the biggest eye openers, though somewhat crude in comparison to the cultural ones, as in they show the image they thought they had, which is much bigger / better than reality
Music is always available as is Balet and Opera. The three main concert halls have concers / operas and ballets virtually every night. The Bolshoi at metro Ohotny Riad (Охотиы Риад) on the red line is the most famous, but you can only get tickets from touts outside as there is a deal with the staff to sell to them for a kick back! The conservatory (Консерватори) is the best value and you can get tickets from the box office inside. They do speak English. The conservatory is at Bibliteka I'm Leninakan on the red line as well. The third is the chaikofsky theatre. This is at Mayakofskaya (Маиаковса) on the green line. You take the red line to Ohotny Riad and change to go two stops on the green line. Once again there is a box office on the inside that speaks English.
You get stuck or need something in advance such as a ticket etc, PM me as I live here. Unless its between Christmas and Orthodox New Year, when I am away
Oh and don't buy souvenirs in the city centre or Arbat shoos. It's a big rip off. Take the metro to Partisanskaya (Партисанская) and go to the Ismailivsky Market. Much much cheaper, bigger selection and an amazing flea market there too selling liars of Soviet Era stuff
Programs: BA Gold; Flying Blue Platinum for life; LH Senator; Hilton Diamond; Kemal Kebabs Prized Customer
Sounds like a great time out lined up there olybeast! CCR is open from 5 am and the champagne will already be out for you. It gets busy from about 7am to around 11 am. Personally I'd try and stay at the Hilton T5 up the road from the Travelodge - they often have good deals there such as points+cash, their breakfast is heaps better and worth lingering for.
You have had a most impressive reply from behindthecurtain, the only things I would add is that you are looking at typically 20 to 30 minutes on the subway to the central area, it's quite easy to get a hang of it, other than that it's sometimes tricky to spot the station names from inside the carriages. So get yourself a really good metro map (ideally showing both Latin and Cyrillic scripts) and just prepare yourself before each trip as to where to change. The traffic around Moscow is so dreadful that you may as well maximise your public transport options, and both the metro and the airport express train services are excellent.
The other advice is that if Moscow's residents are very cultured bunch, including youngsters. So if you plan on going to say a museum and there's a new exhibition on then it would not be surprising to see a huge queue out the back. There's no point saying "go early" since they will be there at the crack of dawn standing in a metre of snow, if that's what it takes. So go late instead!
It may be worth trying to remember the Cyrillic script. It looks daunting to begin with but with a bit of practice / homework you will probably get the hang of it.
Cyrillic isn't too daunting if you give yourself a bit of time to read up on it - I picked up most of the basics on the flight over, but you may want to do that beforehand so you can enjoy F all the more
We didn't have any problems with the metro, though don't get caught out by the interchange stations: unlike London, where one station will have the same name on several lines, in Moscow, connected stations can have different names. Many of the stations are architectural marvels, and if your guidebook has a self-guide tour to them, it's worth spending an hour or two to marvel at them.
Unfortunately when we visited something I drank didn't agree with me - either the tapwater, or more likely some unpasteurised lager in Arbat - so I saw a bit more of the hotel room than I'd have liked, but our friend who went a few weeks later said that the VDNKh was worth the trek if you're interested in a bit of Soviet history. (It's largely outdoors though).
For food if you want a brilliant steak at not too tough a price, try El Gaucho just opposite Pavletsky Vaukshal. Three stops on brown line from your hotel, Ms Behindthecurtain and i eat there once a week...
A good restaurant that is not too expensive and has great veiws and a good mix of international and russian food is White Rabbit (Белый Кролик) at Metro Smolenskaya (Смоленская) Red line from Hotel to Bibliteka im Lenina, change to Blue Line and two stops. Finally try the Cheese and Ham Pancakes (фблинчики с'сиром веченой) at chockoladnitza (Шоколадница) the biggest coffee shop/food chain. They are extremely good and very more-ish
As i think of more things, and am in an airport lounge i will add them