When visiting a city as stylish as St Petersburg, a city of opulence and indulgence, it makes sense to find a hotel that fits into the same groove. Look no further than the Belmond Grand Hotel Europe, a vast palace of refinement right in the heart of the city centre, positioned perfectly on the extravagant avenue that is Nevsky Prospekt. The hotel has been an architectural landmark since its construction almost 150 years ago, and remains an urban institution recognised for its role in the local art, theatre, ballet and restaurant scenes.
Options abound at the Belmond, but surely the most attention-grabbing is L'Europe, not only for its title as Russia's oldest continually serving restaurant, but for a majestic ambience that starts with the smartly uniformed waiters and is overseen by a magnificent stained-glass window. A more contemporary elegance is found at pan-Asian restaurant AZIA, while Russia's most celebrated fish eggs and vodkas dominate the Caviar Bar. For less formal dining, choose the Lobby Bar.
You’ll feel like royalty, or at least an Edwardian emissary, as you step into rooms that turn the clock back to a less austere time in Russia's past. Brimming with antique furniture and elaborate upholstery, the focus is on class as well as luxury, culminating in the high-ceilinged Historic Suites whose contents recall the days of the Tsars. More modern tastes are accounted for in Avant-Garde Suites, while Deluxe rooms are smaller but have great city views.
The list of activities in St Petersburg is endless. Start by touring the city's major attractions, from the gilt domes of St Isaac's Cathedral to the rococo vivaciousness of the Catherine Palace, soaking up the extraordinary architecture that makes the city a living art gallery. Of course there are plenty of actual galleries and museums to explore, while opera and ballet buffs are equally spoilt for choice.