Luxury Travel Blog

Ideas to inspire your world: luxury, culture, food, travel, style

July 1, 2019

Just Back: St. Petersburg & Moscow, Russia

We recently returned from an incredible trip to Russia that included touring the top cultural highlights of Moscow and St. Petersburg, staying at the finest luxury hotels and dining on excellent cuisine at the best restaurants.

We started in St. Petersburg, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Famous for literature, music and ballet, it also has outstanding museums and ornate architecture. The Winter Palace, former residence of the Russian czars and part of the State Hermitage Museum complex, exemplifies the opulence of imperial Russia.

The Hermitage is one of world’s most renowned museums and has one of the largest collections of fine and decorative arts in the world. We arrange private, expert-led tours for our travelers, including special access before and after opening hours.

The Raphael Loggias at The Hermitage, a replica of the gallery in the Papal Palace at the Vatican that’s decorated with frescoes designed by Raphael.

Our guides take travelers to see highlights such as classical antiquities, decorative arts, and Italian Renaissance, Flemish Baroque and French Impressionist paintings.

The Hermitage has beautiful rooms such as the Pavilion Room with its famous Peacock Clock and mosaic floor…

…the Small Throne Room, created for Czar Nicholas I to host intimate receptions…

…and the 18th-century Grand Church, one of the most magnificent rooms in the palace.

The historic heart of St. Petersburg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site replete with opulent palaces, museums and cathedrals along a network of canals that has earned the city the nickname “Venice of the North.”

We arrange for our travelers to visit the top cultural sites with an expert private guide, including the colorful Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul, situated on an island in the Neva River…

…impressive St. Isaac’s Cathedral…

…and the dazzling Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, which has an elaborate facade, colorful onion domes that recall medieval Russian architecture…

…and a magnificent interior covered in glittering mosaics. In fact, the church mosaics constitute one of the largest collections of mosaics in the world.

The iconostasis—the screen that separates the sanctuary from the nave in Eastern Orthodox churches—is especially elaborate, with mosaics, paintings, sculptural details and enamel.

Many of our travelers enjoy taking a private tour of the Faberge Museum, housed in one of the most beautiful palaces in St. Petersburg.

It has thousands of fine and decorative arts objects, but the highlight is the collection of Faberge Easter eggs created for the last czars.

For travelers interested in history and interiors, we can arrange a private tour of the lavish Yusupov Palace. It has many ornate rooms, including a small Rococo theater used for private performances hosted by the Yusupov family.

The palace is considered one of the city’s architectural gems. It’s also notorious as the place where the influential monk Rasputin was assassinated.

One of our preferred hotels in St. Petersburg is the Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace. Located in a refurbished palace in the historic Admiralteysky District and steps away from major historic sites…

…it features neoclassical interiors, an award-winning spa and excellent fine dining restaurants.

A regional highlight is Catherine Palace, a former imperial summer residence and UNESCO World Heritage Site outside St. Petersburg.

We arrange private excursions to the palace and touring of the magnificent Rococo interiors with a private guide.

The palace complex contains a wealth of details, such as ancient Roman motifs on a frieze in the Green Dining Room…

…beautiful furniture…

…and insights into life at the imperial court.

The legendary Amber Room is another highlight of Catherine Palace. The panels decorating the walls are carved from amber, creating a unique glow.

We can also arrange an exclusive visit to the renowned Tsarskoselskaya Amber Workshop.

Adjacent to Catherine Palace, the Amber Workshop is one of the largest art restoration studios in Europe and is not open to the public.

We arrange for our travelers to meet the artisans, watch restoration work and learn about the history and traditional techniques of amber carving and etching.

Following the visit to the workshop, our travelers can visit the amber shop in Catherine Palace, one of the best places to buy high-end amber products.

We enjoyed a rustic lunch at a charming traditional restaurant in the countryside, accompanied by live folk music.

Other activities we arrange in St. Petersburg include a private lesson in painting matryoshka nesting dolls, a troika (horse-drawn carriage) ride through Pavlovsk Park, a private tour of the Lomonosov Imperial Porcelain Factory and attending a performance at the renowned Mariinsky Theater.

We continued to Moscow, the vibrant capital of Russia. The iconic domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral are a symbol of Russia. The cathedral dates to the 16th century and is part of the Kremlin and Red Square UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Four Seasons Hotel Moscow is one of our preferred hotels in the city for its unbeatable location on Red Square, as well as its sophisticated style.

We recommend making time to enjoy the heated indoor pool and large spa.

With our private guide, we went inside the Kremlin complex to see the Annunciation Cathedral and other highlights.

Also around Red Square, we saw the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier…

…Kazan Cathedral…

…and GUM, an upscale shopping mall. GUM is a favorite destination for its luxury shops and food markets.

This charming cafe is a perfect stop for lunch or a drink during touring of Red Square.

We visited the renowned State Tretyakov Gallery, the national museum of Russian fine art with an expert private guide.

We enjoyed a private performance by the resident choir at the adjacent St. Nicholas Church.

We also took a private tour of Bunker 42, a Cold War museum in a Soviet-era secret underground complex.

We saw the command headquarters and communications division…

…and unique reminders of the era.

The Moscow Metro is one of the largest subway systems in the world and a must-see. Many of the stations have surprisingly ornate decorations, such as frescoes, mosaics, stained glass and chandeliers.

Dining at top restaurants with incredible interiors was another highlight of our Russia trip. We arrange reservations at the best fine-dining restaurants for our travelers.

Many chefs in Russia incorporate creative contemporary elements into traditional Russian dishes.

Other activities we arrange in and around Moscow include attending a performance at the Bolshoi Theater, exclusive access to the Diamond Fund inside the Kremlin, a private tour of Stalin’s Bunker, an excursion through medieval villages in the Russian countryside and guided shopping for the best local products.

Contact an Artisans of Leisure travel specialist to begin planning a private tour of Russia.

Destinations:  Europe, Russia

Tags:  amber, Amber Room, art tours, Catherine Palace, decorative arts, Four Seasons Russia, Hermitage, interior design, interiors, Kremlin, luxury Russia tours, Moscow, Moscow tours, palaces, Russia, Russia tours, Russian, St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg tours, The Hermitage, The Kremlin, Yusupov Palace