Saint Petersburg, Russia: W Hotel St Petersburg

St Petersburg, Russia

The W's first and only Russian hotel is surprisingly not in flashy Moscow, but in chilled-out St. Petersburg.


At first it seems quite the juxtaposition, as between the two Russian cities St Petersburg is the effortlessly-chic cousin (you know, the one who shows up your 'dress to impress' efforts by looking frustratingly hot in her messy top knot and last minute smudge of red lipstick - that b*tch!) - seemingly at odds with the W Hotel ethos ie. cool-chasers who push trends like the proverbial 15 minutes are nearly up. And such trends - ceramic creatures in bell jars, designer furniture, wire goldfish swimming through the communal area. From the dizzying smorgasbord of funky design in every corner of the 'Living Room' you'd be forgiven to think that you'd taken the wrong flight and landed in Moscow. I mean, the lobby, sorry, living room, had its own DJ.

Happily, a break away from the visual-overload of the hotel lobby is the much-needed restrained minimalism of my room - although accessed by a lift that is as secure (your key unlocks only your room's floor and that of the common area) as it is dimly lit (I had to really struggle to read the labels beside the floor buttons. I gave up and instead watched the lift's screen playing trailers for very cool upcoming attractions including a sexy vampire movie).

Through these doors, a cozy room for two.

Don't mind my furs draped over the TV. Incidentally, people-watching out of my room's vast windows was far more interesting than any programme - there was always at least 3 gorgeous horses (tourist traps run by enterprising gypsies) and a blacked-out car parked outside waiting for someone very important, no doubt.

Lush tones of gold and velvety purple add rich depth to a sparsely decorated, very tasteful room adorned with just the necessary mod-cons one comes to expect from contemporary luxury. Those mod-cons included a Nespresso machine; a useful list of Russian phrases, nearby restaurants and bars (including a much-needed vegetarian eatery that I can't wait to tell you about!), a menu of treatments available at the Bliss Spa, and oodles of seemingly self-replenishing Bliss toiletries.

Here's a bathroom for basic beauty bloggers - how many types of marble can you count?

Gorgeous lemon-scented Bliss beauty products that I took absolute pleasure in lathering up with - it's so pleasing when hotels provide branded toiletries we know and love, not no-brand nonsense with dubious chemical contents.

As much as I would love to just sink into the eye-rollingly comfortable hotel bed after a Bliss-full hot bath (Bliss-full, get it?) and never leave, St Petersburg beckoned. And really, I have no excuse to be a hermit, not when the hotel is so primely positioned - on Voznesensky Avenue in the centre of  historical "Venice of the North", just next to St. Isaac's Cathedral (of which rooftop bar goers have an unbeatable views of - you'll see) beside the famous Bronze Horseman statue of Peter the Great, mere steps to the astonishingly vast shopping avenue that is Nevsky Prospect, and a hop and skip away from the lavish Winter Palace and famed Hermitage Gallery. I've always said; Location, location, location - and for that, the W St Petersburg is unbeatable. 

But what of its gastronomical offerings?

W Hotel seemed to have forgotten to name their restaurant, which is amusing as a lot of thought went into other aspects of its creation - the restaurant design drew inspiration from the jewel tones and layers of a Faberge egg, the result being surprisingly modern and restrained but for the dazzling cluster of lights in the dining room facing the main road.

The food is good enough - the menu offers the sort of Eastern-Western fusion seasoned travellers come to expect in most upscale international destinations (nothing screams comforting familiarity like mild Tom Yum soup).

The eggplant rolls with cottage cheese stuffing and Napoli tomato sauce (bottom right) and the bread basket (top left) were absolutely gorgeous...

...but they paled in comparison to this delightful dessert - 'Iced Black forest cup with a chocolate surprise'. Hint: it's NOT a surprise if the menu tells you what it is! But still, having chocolate sauce poured onto the gold-leaf layer of the pudding, melting it away to reveal an oh-so-delicious cloud of marshmallow, jelly, crunchy chocolate brownie, and cream...I forgive you, oh nameless-restaurant.

The W Hotel Restaurant is nice enough, but the hotel's real showstopper of is undoubtably its enviable rooftop bar. 

Boasting gorgeous views of St Petersburg, day or night the rooftop bar is full of dazzled tourists and locals alike preening for selfies against the backdrop of St Isaac's Cathedral. Can you really blame them, with a view like this?

To say that the rooftop bar is the place to be in St Petersburg would be the understatement of the summer. To me, the bar was just a place for me to have a cheeky cigarette and so I'd pop upstairs to the 8th floor in the dead of night, clad in a dressing gown - only to confront hordes of glamorous locals dressed up to the nines jostling for attention with Russian celebrities, hipsters pretending to be nonchalant, and everybody throwing shapes for the party photographers. Yes, party photographers - the W St Petersburg hosts months of its own terrace parties on its roof during summer. 

The W St Petersburg is definitely the hotel to stay in if you want to be the centre of everything that's happening in the city. The hotel philosophy is "Whatever/Whenever - as long as it's legal". The staff at The W know everything that's worth seeing and to be seen at, and are likely to be going too - whether its a DJ playing, an art exhibition opening, or an indie film premiere. I only had to tell the concierge which exclusive restaurant I wanted to dine at, mere hours before, and in a matter of seconds reservations would be arranged without so much as a hitch. That's why I gave the Bliss Spa, pool, and 24-hour gym a complete miss - with so much to see and do in St Petersburg it seemed a shame to stick to the confines of the hotel, as brilliantly kitted out as its facilities are. I can't recommend The W enough - and I'm not just saying that because one of my many midnight room-service meals were complimentary (the perks of being a regular customer) - even if my stay wasn't completely perfect (I would've liked a quiet smoking area that didn't involve me having to brave pumping beats, fireworks, and party animals), it was definitely very enjoyable - extremely conveniently located and well-placed to the point where I felt like I was part of the St Petersburg in-crowd. Definitely not one for shy and retiring wallflowers, but hey, you're in Russia - if you wanted mild, you're in the wrong country! Speaking of in-your-face, wait till you see Sunday's blog post on St there's a sight to make the achingly-hip W Hotel look positively conservative! 

Photo sources; 1 - 5, 13, 15 courtesy of W St. Petersburg


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