Moscow, on the Moskva River in western Russia, is the nation’s cosmopolitan capital. In its historic core is the Kremlin, a complex that’s home to the president and tsarist treasures in the Armoury. Outside its walls is Red Square, Russia’s symbolic center. It’s home to Lenin’s Mausoleum, the State Historical Museum’s comprehensive collection and St. Basil’s Cathedral, known for its colorful, onion-shaped domes.
The facade of this hotel rises above the Moskva like the prow of a ship. On the opposite bank are Red Square and the Kremlin. Since the demolition of the huge Rossiya hotel, a breathtaking panoramic view has been opened up to the Baltschug Kempinski, which the luckiest guests can enjoy from their bedroom window. If it snows during the night, they will discover a fairy-tale landscape when they get up. There are few more magical sights in Moscow than the multicoloured onion domes of Saint Basil’s sprinkled with snow. The artists Kramskoy and Vasnetsov, whose canvases hang on the walls of the Tretyakov Gallery, were well aware of this: at the turn of the 20th century, they set up their studios in rooms of the building now housing this hotel. Refurbished from top to bottom in 1992 by the German Kempinski group, the Baltschug offers spacious rooms with refined furnishings. A handful of suites have been given a makeover by the Swedish agency Living Design. Others have a distinctively British flavour in homage to Princess Michael of Kent. Don’t worry if your room does not overlook the Kremlin: the restaurant’s dining room, where breakfast is served, enjoys a superb view. Food lovers will be delighted: the brioches and Viennese pastries are made in the hotel, which has its own bakery. Every Saturday, yoga sessions take place in a room on the top floor, with a panoramic view thrown in for good measure.
Sektsia, a store selling only Russian labels, has moved to the second floor of GUM. The clothes designed by Aliona Akhmadulina for her Akhmadulina Dreams line are distinguished by the originality of their prints, and the impeccable cut of the Inshade dresses is just as eye-catching, as are the coats by Laroom. You’ll also find Artem Krivda’s blousons, knits by 7 KA and Mir Stores, and the brands Sorry I’m Not, On Course and ZDDZ. Among the accessories are silk scarves by Radical Chic and Kokosha, both of which have a scarf paying tribute to GUM. Hard to choose between the two.
This restaurant is located on the second floor of Tsentralnyi Rynok, a food hall opened in late 2017 in the city centre. The bright room is decorated with colourful motifs reminiscent of the style of Ivan Bilibin, a famous early twentieth-century illustrator. The unusually large kitchen has a huge grill and a giant stove. The name of the restaurant, derived from the verb goret (to burn) suggests to Russian speakers that cooking time is of prime importance in this restaurant with a menu dominated by pizzas and grilled meats. The beef rib comes in ten different degrees of doneness. Lovers of crispy pizzas will be satisfied here, while the house-made bread alone justifies a visit. Gorynych’s original concept was the idea of two prominent restaurateurs: Ilya Tioutenkov (Ugolëk, Severiane) and Boris Zarkov (White Rabbit Family). They hired chef Vladimir Mukhin, and each of the three contributes the best of his experience. Note that the prices are, thankfully, lower than those of the White Rabbit restaurants.
In 2008, Dasha Zhukova, the companion of businessman Roman Abramovich, founded a centre for contemporary art in an old constructivist-style bus depot built in 1927 by architect Melnikov. Hence the name Garage, which opened with a challenging retrospective of work by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov. The Garage quickly established itself as one of the hubs of the Biennale of Contemporary Art, which has set the pace for the Moscow art scene since 2005, and people have also been flocking to the bookstore and café. Then came the bombshell in 2011: the owners of the Bakhmetevsky Bus Garazh wanted to repossess the building and create a Jewish cultural centre there. So Garage moved to a new site amid the greenery of Gorky Park in the city centre, whilst hanging on to its name. The restoration of two buildings that will house the “new” Garage is being carried out by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), the architectural firm of Rem Koolhaas, who is working closely with young Russian architects from the Form Bureau agency. In the first building, dating from 1960, they plan to keep the period decor, notably the mosaics and ceramic pieces. In the second, built in 1923 for an agricultural exhibition, the generous spaces will be adapted to a new vocation. Meanwhile, a temporary structure designed by innovative Japanese architect Shigeru Ban has opened for artistic events.
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