HOTEL NOTES -- GOLDEN RING AREA of RUSSIA
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Hotels reviewed on this page:
- Park Inn Sadu in Moscow
- Vladimir Hotel in Vladimir
- Hotel Pushkarskaya Sloboda in Suzdal
- Kovcheg Hotel in Palekh
- Bed & Breakfast Man'enam in Plyos
- Snow Maiden Hotel in Kostroma
- Hotel Moskva in Uglich
- Moskovsky Trakt Hotel in Rostov Velikiy
- Perslavl Hotel in Pereyaslavl Zalessky
- Russky Dvorik Hotel in Sergiev Posad
In July 2009, we spent 11 nights in 9 hotels
Northeast of Moscow in an area known as the Golden Ring. Our primary mode of
transportation was bicycle [a van transported our things from hotel to hotel]
The tour was organized by MIR Travel.
A discussion of that Bicycle Tour [when completed and posted] can be found here.
Park Inn, Sadu
26 & 27 June, 2009
The Park Inn Sadu Hotel is a downtown Moscow hotel at a moderate price [approx $150/nite]. It is conveniently located just across the river and a 10-20 minute walk from the Red Square / St Basel / Kremlin sites. It was recently constructed  so everything was clean and in good working order during our 2009 visit. Our travel planner chose it for us; I’m not sure we would have found it on our own.
Our room was on the small side and it felt cramped to have a queen size bed plus small work area. We had to climb over our open suitcases, especially when we did some unpacking and re-arranging for our upcoming bicycle tour in the countryside. One can only assume that space is a premium near downtown.
While close to the areas most often visited by tourists and Russians alike, the hotel itself is on a drab side street with little vehicular and pedestrian traffic. It stands alone rather than being amidst posh properties in a hotel district. The view from our room was mediocre.
Front desk English was good – which after a long flight from the USA was both welcome and re-assuring. Internet is available via wifi. Internet prices are expensive – R430 [$13] for an hour or R720 [$22] per 24 hours. The elevators were efficient. The Breakfast buffet served in the café adjacent to the lobby was wholesome with good variety and mixture of local and international choices including eggs, bacon, yogurts, fruit, cheeses, meats, and juices. The café staff also spoke English. The breakfast area gets a bit overrun when a tour bus full of guests arrive at their scheduled time. The lobby is small, modestly furnished, and quite full of cigarette smoke. It is definitely not a place to linger.
Our room was clean and in good condition. The bed had a comfortable, medium firmness mattress [not the new pillow-top variety]. The linens were average. The bathroom was clean.
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The Vladimir Hotel provided us acceptable stay without strong positive or negative. It was functional, and clean, and except for the rooms lacked local charm. The 2009 global recession seems to have impacted their business – the hotel was maybe 20 pct full.
The outside of the building was clean, sharp, and bright and made a good first impression especially when compared to neighboring buildings in Vladimir. The great first impression quickly dissipated when it took 10-15 minutes to find our reservation [plus much discussion on our behalf -- in Russian of course – by our guide]. Without the services of our guide, we might never have gotten a room since the front desk staffs’ English was limited to rudimentary words.
The common areas were well cleaned, but are showing signs of wear and tear. The lobby and common areas have minimal furniture. The hallways are large with an institutional feeling. The elevator was creaky. So we were quite surprised when we entered our room and found a well-furnished suite consisting of entry vestibule, sleeping area, and sitting room. Some of the furniture showed signs of wear, overall the impression was pleasant. The bed was comfortable, queen size, and medium firm [no pillowtop]. The room was warm from sunshine when we arrived so we opened the window [no screens] to permit cool air to enter. Unfortunately we could not sleep with the window open due to noises from the adjacent major road and therefore we had some challenge to be comfortable under the heavy bedding.
The bathroom was adequate and clean except that it took over 5 minutes for the hot water to arrive in the morning.
There is an indoor restaurant [we didn’t use], a pleasant outdoor café, and a breakfast lounge. As seems to be the custom in Russia, the café, restaurant and breakfast lounge all had loud and distracting music/television playing. Thankfully, the outdoor café had an English menu [with old prices so you may get charged more than the menu price]. The wait staff spoke no English. Dinner cost R1200 [$35]. Breakfast consisted of more strange food than recognizable food.
There was free wireless internet accessible from the outside café – and only at the outside café. When we wished to do a morning email download, we discovered the outside restaurant was closed and we had to go sit by the glass door in the indoor restaurant to get a signal.
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The Pushkarskaya Sloboda is a charming hotel in an equally charming Russian town. On the grounds are a mixture of cabins and lodges. The grounds were nicely detailed and very clean. While we were there, Hewlett Packard conducted a seminar for in grand style.
We were checked into one of the cabins in a duplex building. The construction was fresh cut logs with flax caulking in the crack. The building had a common entry porch with a nice wicker chair set. Inside the logs plus wooden ceiling and floor were all light colored and when coupled with large windows and light accents the cabin was bright and cheerful. There was a work desk, two single beds, and a clean modern bathroom. The entire accommodations were spacious, clean, tight, and quiet.
On the grounds are 4 restaurants. We only had the opportunity to try the Russian restaurant called Ulei. They had English menu’s and the waitress knew a few simple English words. Wines are available from $20/bottle and two of us enjoyed a fine meal consisting of starters and entree’s for about $60. Thankfully the volume was turned low on the ever-present music. Breakfast was buffet style and featured delicious pancakes and local salads of tomato, cabbage, and cucumbers served in a clean and efficient setting.
The hotel advertises Sauna and Russian bath, but when we inquired we learned there is a R1800 [about $60] charge. We decided to skip the amenity. There is wireless Internet in the lobby area. Get the security code from the front desk. Since our cabin was very close to the lobby building we managed to get a weak signal at the window of our room.
Front desk English seemed limited to simple common words. It would be difficult to get significant help or advice about the local area.
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The Kovcheg Hotel is a very small establishment in the middle of rural Russia 200Km North East of Moscow. It has just 6 rooms and may be the only hotel for 50Km in any direction. There is no English at the front desk, no English menu, and the only internet in town is in a room at the local post office where there are two Windows 98 computers which can be rented by the our. The hotel seemed pretty new when we visited in 2009.
Our room had two small twin beds with a single 4 inch mattress on a hide-a-bed type spring platform and with wrought iron headboard & footboard. There was a small TV and a small work area. Except for carpet on the floor, the room looked very much like a college dorm room. The place was very clean and had good linens and bedding. Rooms in Russia typically pay more attention to keeping people warm in the winter than keeping people cool in the summer and our room was no exception. We had to open the windows, which allowed a few flies and mosquitoes to enter. And a local homeowner decided to start a gasoline powered weed-wacker device at 4:45 in the morning. We found it difficult to get a good night sleep.
The bathroom was small and the shower curtain minimal. As a result, water gets all over the floor. We found plenty of hot water.
The restaurant menu is limited – no veal [a very popular meat in Russia] & no Coke-Cola. The did make us an excellent greek salad and some fine soups. We paid about $25 for 2 persons including several beers.
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Bed & Breakfast Man’enan
Billed as a “home stay” the establishment run by the Man’enan’s in Plyos resembles the typical Bed & Breakfast familiar to US travelers. In addition to the usual breakfast, guests also get an exquisite dinner prepared by the family. Lodging is in a separate building finely appointed with western fixtures and decorated with local accents. Otherwise, there is no mingling with the family and a visitor goes not get to experience the way locals live.
There 3 cabins in the new building and some additional rooms in older buildings as well. We had the top floor suite which had an attractive and comfortable sitting room plus sleeping nook with double bed. The bathroom was small, but nicely done with modern fixtures including a shower with enclosure that kept water from splashing onto the floor. The room also features an inspiring view of Trinity Cathedral from our main window. The location is in a quiet part of town and we had a great nights sleep.
Upon arrival, the colorful flowers in the courtyard and tidy traditional Russian home make an immediate positive impression. Similar positive experience awaits those who follow the pathways around to the backside of the Russian home. The bed & breakfast is on the top of a hill, 200 feet above the quaint town of Pylos and the Volga river. The views are awesome from the various gazebos and decks.
The dinner was awesome. The food just kept coming and coming….soup, salad, a melt in your mouth entree, stuffed peppers, breads, & deserts. As we ate, the family all came to introduce themselves. A young son asked if he could practice his English; it was a quaint and enjoyable experience with good insights into Russian teenager interests. The next morning, breakfast was similarly wonderful: porridge, pancakes with home made cream cheese & jellies, egg soufflé omelet, pastries, coffee, juices, and more.
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Snow Maiden Hotel
The Snow Maiden Hotel in Kostroma, Russia is a shiny new property with a cheerful theme. Unfortunately it sits in the midst of an older drab and shabby neighborhood. In back of the main hotel is a large ‘cabin’ – I’d say 3000+ sq ft – used for serving vodka at an ice bar and for Snow Maiden skits. It’s worth the hour or two. Otherwise some means of transportation is needed between the hotel and anything else the visitor wishes to do.
The hotel is very new, very clean, and quite accommodating. At every turn and in every corner it is pleasantly decorated with the theme of winter wonderland thereby aligning with the Snow Maiden name. Even the hallways and doors were charmed with nick-knacks and stenciled painting. The lobby too had decorations, however it is quite small and not at all a place for gathering.
Our standard room was also nicely decorated and quite adequate. Our room had a queen bed with comfortable medium firm mattress. Our bathroom was finished with nice tile and was ultra clean. There was even a large vanity.
English was not spoken in the hotel by front desk clerks, wait staff, or the entertainers at the Snow Maiden Cabin. And there were no English menus. So unless a guest knows Russian, a guide or interpreter is essential. Our guide got our laptops connected to the Internet. The only connection is to 2 computers in the business center. Our guide got permission to unhook the Internet cables from the computers and plug them into our laptops and he got logons from the front desk. The charge is by the megabit and works out to a little over $1 per megabyte. We focused on emails and links we absolutely needed and paid about $4 overall.
Meals were the most disappointing part of the Snow Maiden Hotel. The lunch -- served in the café -- was just OK. One could quickly tell that the quality of meats was not on par with previous establishments. For convenience we decided to eat dinner in the same café. It took 100 minutes for our meal to arrive, and when it did the food was luke warm, poorly presented, and included meats full of grizzle. The following morning, breakfast was modest. The selection was slim with some selections in short supply despite fewer than two-dozen guests. Its unfortunate that Snow Maiden Hotel doesn’t upgrade their meals to the standards found elsewhere at the property.
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The Hotel Moskva in Uglich, Russia makes a great first impression by virtue of its location on the banks for the Volga River and its clean modern exterior. The interior is equally impressive with expansive lobby and common areas plus inviting patio on the 2nd floor with wonderful views of the Volga River and the Church of St Dimitri on the Blood. We also caught sights of river boats, a splendid sunset and a misty morning from our private balcony overlooking the water. A boutique art gallery on the 2nd floor compliments the many fine points.
The hotel was built in 2006-7 and is part of the Moscow based Intourist chain of 7 hotels.
Inside our room and upon closer inspection we were disappointed by cheap materials and hurried construction techniques. Molding is plastic, there is no bathroom vanity [just a small pedestal sink], flimsy plastic toilet seat, no decorations on the walls, tiny cheap lamps, miniature nightstands, and ultra thin carpet are some of the examples of minimalist construction. Somewhat irritating was the lack of a spare electrical outlet – we had to unplug a light to charge batteries. No in room coffee or other extras of any sort. The rooms are just what I would expect in a two year old Motel-6. And after just 2 years, much of the furniture [bath tub too] is showing signs of wear. The room and bathroom had musty smells forcing us to open windows. The best points were clearly the location-plus-view and the bed which did provide a good night’s sleep.
There is wireless internet in the lobby for a charge of R150 [about $5] for 1 hours use. We did not hear any English in the hotel in either front desk areas or dining areas. A guide or interpreter is necessary.
The on site restaurant served good dinner food from a menu that had English translations for most all Russian dishes. There was a nice wine list with wide variety ranging in price from $10 to $50; unfortunately the wine list was only in Russian and it was impossible to get a meaningful translation. All total we paid about $40 for 2 persons, wine included. Breakfast was tasty and quick and consisted of a fixed menu of meat & cheese plate, kasha, and scrambled eggs. The usual buffet was not set because there were too few guests staying midweek at the hotel.
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Moskovsky Trakt Hotel
Rostov Velikiy, Russia
July 6, 2009
The Hotel Moskovsky Trakt in Rostov Velikiy is another property of the Moscow based Intourist chain of 7 hotels. It provided clean, comfortable, and fairly new accommodations in an otherwise established residential neighborhood. The hotel does not have a scenic view and is not an easy walk to downtown sights or cafés. As in other hotels, occupancy seemed very low.
Both the inside and outside of the building are modern and impressive. Ditto for the dining area. Inside our room and upon closer inspection we were disappointed by cheap materials and hurried construction techniques. Molding is plastic, there is no bathroom vanity [just a small pedestal sink], flimsy plastic toilet seat, tiny cheap lamps, miniature nightstands, and ultra thin carpet are some of the examples of minimalist construction. Our room did have pleasant wallpaper, a single hanging picture, and was of decent size. No in room coffee or other extras of any sort. The rooms are just what I would expect in a two year old Motel-6. The room had a pungent cigarette smoke odor which could have been coming from hallways or from previous smoking guests. The best point was the bed, which did provide a good night’s sleep.
The hotel has wireless Internet in the lobby R100 [about $3.50] purchased 50Mbytes. We were pleased that the wireless signal reached to our room. We did not hear any English in the hotel in either front desk areas or dining areas. A guide or interpreter is necessary. Dinner [under $40] and breakfast [included] were tasty and quick.
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Pereyaslavl Zalessky, Russia
The Pereslavl Hotel is right in the middle of the Pereyaslavl Zalessky downtown area. It’s an easy walk to numerous cafés and even a few lesser churches. While we visited there were tour busses coming and going.
This hotel was older and more in need of repairs than any of the other 10 hotels we visited. It was drab, chipped, and scraped. Fixtures belonged to a previous generation. It was as one might imagine the old soviet style might have been. One can get similar feeling by driving some of the older – circa 1950’s – US Interstates and staying in motels that have not been renovated. The front side of the hotel is plastered with over a dozen advertising billboards.
Our room was very small and we were always climbing over our luggage. Our bathroom was also very small. Furnishings were plain, accents were absent, and the hotel had no theme. The bed was fine, but we were challenged to get a good nights’ sleep due to evening noises of dogs, cars, and night owl locals, which last until about 2AM and are followed less than two hours later by early morning light. [Fortunately we were not bothered by bugs since the window openings were protected by screens].
The lobby is extremely simple with a check-in desk way at one end and two small 60’s style chairs at the other end. The hotel made a big fuss about our lack of a certain registration paper; strange, no other hotels complained; then, perhaps in protest, they took a long long time to do the check-in paperwork. We didn’t hear any English from the front desk personnel.
The hotel did not have Internet of any sort. It’s likely one could have found a café nearby – we didn’t try. The hotel had a coffee shop, which went out of their way on two occasions to accommodate us. They had no English menu and only understood a few words. Their food was good and the meals there are created one of the most positive memories of this hotel.
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Russky Dvorik Hotel
The Russky Dvorik Hotel is a charming place located very
close to Trinity St Sergiev Monastery. Judging by the cars in the parking lot,
it might have been 100% full the night we stayed.
The hotel is very new, very clean, and quite accommodating. At every turn and in every corner it is pleasantly decorated with the theme of Russian northland often called Russian Folk Style. Nick-knacks and stenciled painting were common. The courtyard is full of little accents.
Our 2nd floor room was delightful. It too was
decorated in a Russian Folk Style somewhat akin to English blue and white
porcelain. The room was bright and large with sitting area, working area, and
sleeping area. We had a comfortable queen sized bed with a comforter that was
too warm and an accent blanket that was just right. The room had an air
conditioner [first one we saw in 10 Russian hotels], but we preferred to simply
open windows. Bugs were kept out by sheer drapes in front of each window. The
bathroom for the most part has been upgraded with many nice touches including a
sink vanity and a multi head shower enclosed by nice splash resistant door.
There was a bit of mildew in shower corners, but no where else.
The hotel offers Internet by connecting through a PC in a
small nook. The price was $6 for 30 minutes. We dreaded negotiating the
transfer of the LAN cable from the PC to our laptop in a mixture of English &
Russian. To our pleasant surprise we were able to find a free wireless signal
from ZyxTel out on the porch and in front of one of our 2nd floor
windows. So we went with wireless from our room. Note: there is no elevator
in the building we occupied. Guests must carry their luggage to the 2nd
There is a Sauna and Russian bath on the premises. We inquired about reserving the experience thinking the cost of R1000/hr was reasonable enough. Then we learned that there is a [unpublished] 2 hour minimum and that a private group had reserved most of the night. We were later disturbed by the private party’s loud music. Fortunately another guest complained and the staff adeptly took care of the matter.
We believe the staff was somewhat comfortable with English because every once in a while they would use an English word or two with us. Plus the young and confident staff regularly smiled at us. We managed to arrange for a wake up call [it arrived 8 minutes late] and a room service breakfast to be delivered 45 minutes before the restaurant opened [it arrived right on time].
We had lunch at the hotel’s café. The wait staff was cheerful, but overall the service was slow. We ate our dinner at a partner restaurant directly across from the Trinity St Sergiev Monastery. Dinner was tasty and efficient. Wine was expensive for the Russian countryside – more on par with Moscow restaurant prices.pictures are here
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