Radisson Royal Hotel, Moscow – Radisson’s Most Spectacular Hotel?
General Info and Location
Radisson Royal Hotel is a landmark in Moscow. The 198 meter tall hotel opened in 1957 and is the second highest of the seven so called “Seven Sisters” in Moscow, with a traditional architecture of large, high, grandiose façades, which were preferred during this epoch of what was then the Soviet Union. The hotel was originally called Hotel Ukraine, and it was one of few hotels which were often used by foreign visitors. KGB was in the cellar floor, and apparently a number of microphones were placed in the 34 floors.
The hotel closed in 2007 for renovation, and the Rezidor group signed a contract to run the hotel two years later. After renovations went on for three years, the hotel reopened for new guests in 2010. The KGB microphones had been removed, and the entire hotel had gone through a total renovation to a cost of approximately 175 million pound. A lot of the original architecture remained had been renovated, while the inside had received quite a lot of modern facilities.
The hotel offers what is likely one of the most spectacular experiences possible in the Radisson chain, an impressive amount of facilities which probably beats most competition. You won’t miss much in the 34 floors. Nine restaurants and bars, an extensive relaxation section with sauna and a 50 meter swimming pool, a shopping arcade with their own Rolls Royce store, as well as a fully light model of Kreml in the lobby.
A lot of it impresses and a lot of it is actually really good. The hotel has a thoroughly luxurious feel, but the architects still managed to keep it to a level where it works without feeling entirely tasteless.
When it comes to the geographical placement, the hotel is situated in the Western section of central Moscow, a stone throw from the Moscow River and about ten minutes walking from the Kievskaya station where they have connecting trains to the domestic airport Vnukovo, as well as the metro and a large shopping center.
I had booked a standard room at the hotel, but when checking in I was told that I had been upgraded and could go upstairs to check in at the Executive reception on floor 12. It was a beautiful reception with three large desks and comfortable, old fashioned chairs where you could site while checking in. I was informed that I was allowed into the Executive lounge on the same floor, open around the clock.
My Executive room was one floor down, and it was a beautiful room with old fashioned, stylish furniture, all combined with modernities such as a large flat TV and a Nespresso machine. The table by the window had fruits, nuts, and a welcoming card. The room was average in size but nonetheless roomy, and the view showed the hotel’s courtyard with a little park.
There were a number of impressive smaller details in the room, such as the coloured “tassels” you could hang on the door to indicate that you didn’t wish to be disturbed, or that you wanted to have your room made. This was indeed a detail which I believe has landed into a bag as a souvenir a number of times. The bathroom was fairly traditional with its bathtub and toilet, but was also very well stocked with towels and miscellaneous toiletry.
Radisson Royal has a total of 505 rooms and 38 flats. The flats are on the top floors and are specifically designated for longer stays. The hotel previously had closer to 900 rooms, and so it is a large portion of the building that has been redesigned into flats and common spaces.
Eating and Drinking
The hotel has nine different restaurants and bars, including one Iranian, one Russian, and one Italian, an around the clock lobby bar and a romantic restaurant (which is simply called “Romantic Restaurant”), the latter of which features a beautiful view of the Moscow River.
The tower and floors 30 to 34 are the right place to go for any evening pleasures. The two top floors have the Mercedes Bar (which is run with the car manufacturer of the same name) with an extensive cocktail menu, a fantastic view of Moscow, and a DJ taking care of the entertainment in the weekends. If you’re looking for something a bit more relaxed there is an Irish pub and a karaoke bar on the floors below, and another restaurant on the 30th if you get hungry on the way down. The Mercedes Bar doesn’t only attract hotel guests, but also Moscow citizens who might book a table or an entire section in order to have some cocktails with their friends.
Apart from the restaurants and bars the hotel also had a big shopping arcade in the lobby, with mostly clothes and jewellery. If you were interested in buying anything larger there was also a Rolls Royce shop in the hotel, with its accompanying exhibition of course.
The basement of the hotel had “Royal Wellness Club”, a large health club with spa treatments, jacuzzi, Turkish baths, a gym, a sauna, and last but not least a swimming pool of Olympic size, in other words as long as 50 meters. There were numerous chairs for resting by the side of the pool, and a health bar in direct connection. My visit to the health club gave me a positive impression of the hotel, much like most everything else, it was indeed one of the best I’ve ever visited.
One must is to view the large exhibition in the lobby, which features an impressive model of Kremlin in miniature, with all buildings of the area light up with different light effects. There were
headphones by the model, allowing you to listen to a description thereof.
Service and Status Benefits
The service was excellent the whole way through, with a helpful concierge and nice staff at the Executive floor. The treatment was overall courteous and respectful, and the staff always said hello to the guests they met in the corridors. The only exception was the hotel main entrance and the large lobby, where the staff seemed quite uninterested and where you had to call on their attention to get assistance.
All the personnel I came into contact with spoke good enough English, though in some cases it helped to slow down the speed a notch. As a result of the strict rules for getting a visa to Russia Western visitors are still quite rare in Moscow, which must affect the staff’s experience of conversing in English.
As a result of my upgrade to the Executive floor I was also granted access to the lounge behind the reception. The lounge was also extremely beautiful in dark wood, golden details, and a mirror interior. There worked what probably should be called a head waiter, dressed in a silver coloured suite, and several waitresses in the type of waitress clothing that hasn’t been used throughout most of Europe for several decades, with a white lace apron and matching headdress. The staff clothing in comparison the furnishing alone made this one of the oddest hotel lounges I had ever visited. There were free drinks to order around the clock, though you did have to pay for any food, which was available for order from a menu. I tried their club sandwich, which tasted OK.
The morning started off with breakfast served in a lounge, with a smaller self serve buffet consisting of bread, yoghurt, and luncheon meats. The morning conversation was started with
asking what I wanted for breakfast. I answered with a question, asking what there was to choose from, to which they replied “what do you want?”. In the end the entire warm breakfast was
customised after my wishes. That included the cooking, the contents, how I wished to be served, and what was to be placed where and on which plate.
It’s not often that I’ve booked a really expensive hotel room and really felt it was worth the money, but Radisson Royal was a true exception. This was one of the most luxurious and impressive hotels that I’ve stayed at, and the stay was an experience in itself. It was fascinated to continually discover new, fantastic and rare details and facilities in different parts of the hotel. The hotel is so big that it almost can be described as a little town in itself.
You probably need a somewhat crazy country like Russia to pull such a hotel off. No one in the west would consider constructing a building such as Radisson Royal, nor for that matter decide to renovate it 50 years later for 175 million pound. As a visitor and as a guest I just had to drink in the atmosphere, which I am not very likely to find in many other places in the world.