Tatler - Moscow a-go-go
January 2014

You’re sleeping with...

...a KGB-CIA double agent.
Stay at: Hotel Nikol'skaya Kempinski Moscow.
There’s a whiff of deal-making in the lobby of Kempinski’s newest, glitziest Msocow hotel, bang opposite FSB HQ (formerly the KGB) and within whispering range of Red Square. Interiors are Belle Époque bling: gilded oak, marble and velvet. Scope out the rooftop Mojito bar, where leggy Muscovites strut to DJs.

...your emerging economies broker.
Stay at: Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow.
This slick, everything-works option is a mere pirouette away from the Bolshoi Theatre. It’s not the newest in town -- although there’s a clutch of glittering, renovated suites -- and it is big and suity, with polished wood and chrome all over the place, but the service is some of the bet in the city.

...a stony-faced oligarch.
Stay at: Barkhiva Hotel & Spa.
When Russia’s super-rich are not in London (or Courchevel or St Barths), they live it up here behind high walls. Designed by Antonio Citterio, the 65 rooms have heated terraces, open fireplaces and, in the presidential suite, a 15-foot-wide bed. Ahem. But the real star is the Spa Dominique Chenot, with 12 spa suites for unsurpassed pampering.

Rising stars

The Four Seasons Hotel Moscow is due to open in late spring between the Duma building and the Kremlin in a replica of the Thirties Hotel Moskva. Expect some swanky shopping on-site.

Hotel Metropol Moscow has recently been snaffled up by Russian oligarch Alexander Klyachin, who is just the guy to give this faded property some va-va-voom. It already has the city’s hottest concierge (in more ways than one); Anna Endrihovskaia knows what’s what. If you’re not staying here, use concierge PRIME.

You’re in the mood for...

...quirky culture.
The new Moscow Design Museum is as stylish slice of contemporary cool beside the Kremlin, occupying a 200-year-old neo-classical building that was once a military training academy. It’s still finding its mojo but early exhibitions bode well -- one on Soviet packaging, another showcasing playful interactive installation art. Wander and ponder.

...a good cry.
The memorial complex of the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945) is a reminder of the scale of the enormous Soviet sacrifice during the Second World War. Standing in Pobedy Park, it is made up of lifelike dioramas depicting harrowing key battles. Thousands of military heroes’ names are engraved inside the Hall of Glory and a winged Goddess of Victory clings to a neck-craning obelisk. Powerful stuff.

...an underground adventure.
The Moscow Metro is magnificent, a testament to Soviet engineering and a snapshot of idealism: Stalin believed stations should be ‘palaces for the people’. The oldest are architectural masterpieces, including Ploshchad Revolutsii, with its statues of farmers, athletes and industrial workers. Find more Stalinist splendour at Komsomolskaya and meticulous mosaics at Mayakovskaya.


Go to: Gorky Park.
Three hundred acres of revamped park, right in the centre of town, with super-chic restaurants and bars plus public art projects and the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, founded by the delicious Dasha Zhukova. The gigantic ice rink is dreamy on a snowy afternoon, and has children’s zones, ice-hockey areas and set-asides for pros to demonstrate their crazy triple salchows. Warning: no skating after vodka. OK, just one.

Go to: Red October.
On Balchug Island in the Mosckva River, this former chocolate factory is now Red October -- a building complex filled with arty types, galleries and the unmissable bar Strelka, with astounding views of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour from its sunny terrace. Bliss! Red is also home to Moscow’s hottest nightclubs: over-subscribed (but so-worth-the-wait) Gipsy, and Chateau de Fantomas -- downloading its app is the only way to get in.

Go to: Patriarshy Prudiy.
Hit this hip residential area, and stop for a trim at the retro Chop-Chop barber; it doesn’t serve women though -- ‘no matter how persistent or pretty’. Then drop by Ulliam's, an Italian/French/Russian fusion place that’s so popular, guests hunker down on the steps just to taste the food. End up at the 13th-floor Time Out Bar at the Peking Hotel wrapped up in blankets sipping cocktails.

You’re instagramming...

...in the style of: Anna Karenina.
Look wistful and flighty by the fountain in front of the Bolshoi Theatre, the venue for Swan Lake's première nearly 140 years ago. Shed a tear for sparkling eyes.
Effect: Lo-Fi

...in the style of: Xenia Onaopp.
Flanked by heavies, and dressed from top to toe in Dolce & Gabbana, strike a pose on the bridge in front of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, which was blown up by Stalin and cost a bazillion roubles to rebuild in the Nineties.
Effect: X-Pro II

Your sightseeing outfit is...

...Acne jeans and Hermes hiking boots.
Go to: the Kremlin.
Ooh, it’s so Cold War cool. This fortress complex with museums, armouries and Orthodox churches is the official working residence of the Russian president. You’ll find Catherine the Great's coronation crown, Cinderella-style coaches (on skis instead of wheels) and a clutch of absurd Faberge eggs. Take a break on the coveted terrace of Bosco Cafe, overlooking St Basil’s and Red Square.

...top-to-toe Roberto Cavalli.
Go to: Barvikha Luxury Village.
You can smell the money about 10 miles away when all the cars pulling off the motorway are G-Wagens, Merc AMGs and Bentleys. Barvikha’s shopping is oligarch-tastic, like Bond Street but pricier (yikes), plus there is a blow-away concert hall and, nearby, the Arkhangelskoe estate, filled with 17th-century decorative art and one of the greatest rare book collections in Russia. After all that exhausting shopping, rest your feet at Avenue Restaurant, where the must-eat dishes are Kamchatka crab tempura and traditional Russian veal pelmeni (like gnocchi).

Go to: Zhivica Russian Bath House.
Suspend your disbelief and you might just convince yourself you’ve left downtown Moscow for deepest Siberia. Strip off and head into a steamy room with Alex, who is also guaranteed to raise your temperature (wearing only a tiny towel around his waist). He whips guests with Siberian fir, oak and birch branches (good for circulation; bad for calming one’s pulse) before serving up herbal tea, homemade kvass (a mild beer) and organic honey on black bread. The three-hour Altai Zhivitsa treatment includes steams, thrashings and a roll in a hayloft.

Your perfect shopping companion is…

…a head-scarfed babushka.
Go to: Eliseevskiy.
This neo-baroque food hall, set in an 18th-century mansion, has been 100 years in the biz. All marble counters and tinkling chandeliers, it stocks old-fashioned Russian treats to take home: sturgeon in aspic, salted salmon and baked carp. Yum.

...Pussy Riot.
Go to: Tsvetnoy Central Market.
There’s a smattering of well-known brands at this department store (Comme des Garçons, McQ) but come on a weekend and join swarms of hipster at the Sunday Up Market, where over 100 Russian designers showcase their goods. Whizz up to the fifth floor for Food Market, a slick gourmet deli.

…Natasha Rostova.
Go to: Oldich.
Head to Olditch vintage store for one-off finds -- such as exquisite crocodile clutches and imperialist cocktail dresses. They might need a nip and tuck but you’ll be the only one wearing them. Nearby, Bosco’s retro-folk sports gear is the best buy to celebrate this year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Your dream date is…

...Maria Sharapova.
Take her back to her roots at Mari Vanna -- like the London outpost but better, with a cosy kitchen serving high-carb comfort food in a living room stocked with curios, and Dr Zhivago-style folk music fiddling away in the background.

...David Hallberg.
The white-blond American will need some feeding up after all that ballet dancing, so spin him over to Roni, around the corner from the Bolshoi. This divine outpost of Arkady Novikov (who is also behind the Mayfair outpost of his own name) serves pan-Asian sushi, noodles and curries.

Michelle Jana Chan travelled with Abercrombie & Kent (www.abercrombiekent.co.uk).