The National is a very nice Hotel but I cannot give it five stars.
The location is excellent; just 5 minutes walk from the Red Square/Kremlin/Bolshoi/GUM. There is also a bank next door with ATM. There are three adjoining metro stations nearby. The Metro is cheap, efficient, but was extremely confusing for the non-Russian speaker. However it was worth the effort to persevere. (Tip: use a metro map with the Cyrillic station names, a translated one is no use at all).
Firstly I must say that I paid a good rate by NOT using the hotels web site, paying in-full, in advance and NOT including breakfast.
The reception staff, doorman and bell boy were welcoming.
I had a standard non-smoking room on floor 4 (non-smoking), which has a small seating area was neither big nor small – but perfectly adequate. However the wardrobe was ridiculously small if you have more than a few days clothes. I did not pay for a Kremlin view, but had a partial view of the street. The bed was very large (wide) and comfortable, the linen and towels of a high quality. There was a shower/bath duo which worked well. However the sink was crowded with quality bath products, hairdryer, toothbrush glasses etc. They need to add some shelves.
Smoke could sometimes be smelt in the corridor and occasionally in our room. Why?
Robes, slippers and copious bottle water was provided daily. There was a large LCD TV, Safe and DVD player, trouser press, mini bar (expensive of course). A small selection of DVD’s could be borrowed. However I suggest they increase the size of the Library. (Gorky Park was not available!) The air con was not very effective at cooling the room, but in April I did not need it too much.
A buffet Breakfast is served in a room on the 2nd floor, with an attractive Kremlin view; however it costs around £32 per head (at the present exchange rates). Even when included in the room rate there is often little saving, if any. Lighter choices are served in the bar or alternatively go to McCafe down the road and pay a fraction of the cost for a coffee in china and croissant, muffin, toasted sandwich etc.
Room service was very expensive, but they will bring you a kettle if you simply ask. It’s in hidden in the small print and not provided as standard. I asked for this a little too late to really benefit.
The Hotel has a glass conservator which was the bar Alexandrovsky. It served bar-food and drinks. A man often played piano. Unfortunately smoking was allowed in it and it was always well used by the smokers. There was a small side room which was non-smoking, but you lost the atmosphere of the room. The waitresses also seemed to overlook this room.
There was no shop, but a fitness/beauty centre, with pool.
I arrived at the hotel at 23.30 on a Monday via Easyjet/Areo-Express train. I was very pleased to still be able to buy a freshly made sandwich and a drink in the bar. Food in Moscow is very expensive (it often costs more than London). A sandwich and a drink can cost as much as a meal in other cities in the world.
Another evening I dined earlier in the bar. The food (a basic meal: chicken and rice) took almost an hour to arrive and was served COLD. The bar did not even appear crowded at the time. It wa simply re-heated (more delay) - not what I expect from a luxury hotel.
People claim the Concierge was very good. However I saw three desks and only ever one member of staff. There was always a queue to see her and I only ounce had time to wait to see her for advice. What use is a service that I cannot easily access?
All Hotel staff spoke some English although not all were very fluent. However I speak no Russian at all, so I admire their linguistic skills, even if basic. (Explaining that you want milk for tea is often a struggle).
There is a lovely restaurant attached to the which provided a casual ambience with some good live music (piano/singer). The food was excellent, but the service was a little casual. The cost for two persons, three courses, with wine would probably top £100. (The nearby Metropol Hotel has a similarly priced restaurant, with a more formal atmosphere, with more attentive service. Although some may find it too formal.)
If you join the ‘Starwood Preferred Guest’ scheme, (free) you get 15% of the bar food, although I joined too late to really benefit. (They told me this after the cold meal - so no discount on that one).
Moscow is safe and friendly city for all tourists. The Ukraine situation had NO bearing on my tourist experience. The number of designer-clothes shops nearby (often underground) was quite surprising. Cultural options, such as museums, art galleries, were abundant.
The very Smokey Bar Alexandrovsky, poor bar-meal and expensive breakfast is the main reason I have not awarded this Hotel five stars.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Built in 1903 by famed Russian architect Alexander Ivanov, Hotel National has been an awe-inspiring historic landmark for more than a century. Located at the very heart of Moscow's historical, cultural and business center, the magnificent hotel opens spectacular vistas of the Kremlin and the Red Square.The historical grandeur and understated elegance of the property, together with the The Luxury Collection's signature services and state-of-the-art technology, makes Hotel National a favorite destination for sophisticated global explorers visiting Moscow. ... more less
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