For the release of Anna Karenina, we thought we’d give you some ideas on how to visit Moscow in Imperial style. Check out our picks below for a Tolstoy itinerary around the Russian capital.
Built in 1912, the Hotel Savoy is certainly one of the oldest hotels in Moscow and offers the chance to see what Russia was like around the turn of the century, not long after Anna Karenina was written. Here you’ll be able to relax in the comfort of exquisite, traditional decoration, married with modern amenities such as underfloor heating in the marble bathrooms, orthopaedic mattresses and free Wi-Fi.
Two restaurants stand out if you’re on a literary themed tour of Moscow: Café Pushkin and the Central House of Writers. The former is a 19th century cafe that could well have come out of the pages of Tolstoy himself, while the latter is a beautiful Russian mansion cum restaurant that serves classic Russian dishes.
Alternatively, head back in time to a more relaxed, old style salon atmosphere in family apartment, Kvartira 44, which boasts a short, hearty, good value menu to enjoy. Things hot up in the piano bar here around midnight if you want to stay on and party the night away in true proletarian style.
No hedonistic visit to Russia would be complete without sampling the connoisseur’s range of vodkas on offer. Ryumka (10/2 Tryokhprudny per., Tverskaya), whose name is Russian for ‘shot glass’, is a one room bar which gives visitors the chance to feel as if they’re in a good friend’s kitchen, drinking from a dozen different vodka varieties and nibbling on a selection of local dishes.
Of course, life isn’t just about eating, drinking and sleeping. Or at least, we’ve sometimes been told it isn’t, so make sure you take in some of Moscow’s sights and come away enriched with the history of the city. The aptly named Moscow Free Tour whisks you on a free 45 minute, English-language tour of the main places of interest in Moscow. You can then choose which aspect of the city’s history you’d like to explore further with their knowledgeable guides.
Also essential is a visit to at least one of the two city centre museums dedicated to Tolstoy. To immerse yourself in a bygone age (and check for period accuracy in the film), you can visit his family town house, at Ulitsa Lva Tolstovo 21, which has been curated to resemble the writer’s abode as it would have been in the 1890s. More insights into Tolstoy’s work and can be gleaned from a visit to the State Literary Museum, Ulitsa Prechistenka 11.
Joe Wright has taken the decision to set most of the film’s action against a theatre backdrop. You can experience the same decadent surroundings at the Bolshoi for ballet and opera, or the Moscow State Conservatory for classical music concerts. At both you’ll be expected to cut a dash in your dress so make some time for shopping.
If you can’t quite stretch to a couture outfit from Russia’s hot new designer, Denis Simachev, then come back to his boutique at 10pm to partake of a cocktail or two in the hip bar below and party with Moscow’s young creative types.
Should this city break have left you a little ‘tired and exhausted’, make like Anna and visit Sandunovsky Baths, a traditional spa to recharge your batteries before you leave. Treatments, including a birch tree whipping, take place in opulent surroundings, where your every wish is the staff’s command.
And no Anna Karenina experience is complete without a railway journey, and we love travelling in royal style up to St Petersburg, the other main setting of Tolstoy’s epic novel. A double sleeper on a Firmenny train allows you to be whisked luxuriously through the countryside in a first class (Spalny Vagon) couchette. Dump your cases at the Rossi Boutique Hotel before setting out to see the sights of Russia’s second city.
And be sure to check out the full Hg2 Moscow guide for more of the best restaurants, shopping and sights in Moscow.