St. Petersburg offers all kinds of accommodation except maybe villas and bungalows. Like in any other popular tourist destination, rooms here are hard to find at the high season, in May-August, and are easy to rent at the low season. We made a list of options to help you orientate yourself in the local accommodation scene.
1. Modern Hotels
They can be of different rating, location and price. What distinguishes them is that they are either newly-built or deeply modernized. No much difference in terms of price, level of comfort, quality, list of services from what you’ll find in Europe or Americas. Most of them are being operated by international hotel chains which results in high level of service, including good knowledge of English by personnel responsible for communication with clients.
The international brands available in St. Petersburg are Park Inn, Holiday Inn, Marriott, Sokos, Novotel, Radisson, Kempinski, Rocco, Four Seasons, Ibis, InterContinental, Corinthia, Starwood and Domina.
2. Soviet-Era Relics
Oktiabrskaya hotel (Vosstania square)
These are usually very big hotels which were considerably refurbished or totally modernized, but the spirit of the Soviet-era-styled hospitality in the form of boring marketing, lack for client-centeredness, is still dominating here. Staff is generally not trained to Western standards. In most cases it’s 3 stars filled with not too much friendly personnel.
A typical mini-hotel operates a few rooms that were turned from apartments into hospitality facilities. Generally such a hotel occupies one floor in a block of flats (and it’s typically not a ground floor). It has a tiny reception and a small recreational area which plays the same role as a lobby in «big hotels». A peculiarity of the mini-hotels is a homely feel and special cozy atmosphere. Very often staff remembers every guest by sight. A mini-hotel is a good option if you want to live in the city center for reasonable price and don’t need all these additional services and facilities like spa, fitness, sauna, restaurant which big hotels offer. But breakfasts are included, of course.
4. Corporate Hotels
A lot of companies, government bodies, universities and science centers have their own hospitality facilities to accommodate clients, partners and employees. Excessive room offer goes to the market in an attempt to draw additional income to the corporate budget. What this approach leads to is that the management of these hotels is focused, first of all, on the needs of its main client, the owner, not the tourist. It doesn’t mean that you face a low level of comfort at all, just don’t expect here the hospitality standards you are got used to. While a 3-star hotel in Poland is similar to its Swedish or Estonian counterpart, every corporate hotel in Russia has its own peculiarities, for instance, it may not accept credit cards or not provide access to the Internet. Additional services like fitness or spa are also rare in corporate hotels.
St. Petersburg is experiencing a boom in hostels which are being considered as an appropriate accommodation even by elder generations. Like across the globe the hostels here are cheap and friendly and mostly central located. These are great places for making friends from other countries and exchanging information with lots of backpackers. Generally, hostels hire English-speaking staff since many guests are non-Russians.
For families or groups of friends apartments for rent are a superb option, and an opportunity to feel oneself like a local. There are two categories of players on the St. Petersburg accommodation scene: rent agencies and individuals. The agencies will offer you to sign a lease as well as support in fulfilling bureaucratic procedures. They normally have English-speaking staff and enough resourses to provide cleaning and other hotel services. Most apartments are located in the city center. The individuals may also offer high quality facilities, but it’s not the exception that you face bad cleaning or some misunderstanding regarding payment or dates of check-in and check-outs. The risks of renting an apartment is that you are on your own, there is no a 24h reception. Should you lose a key to the flat in the middle of the night, you are likely to wait till the morning when staff wakes up to solve your problem. And a service technician will not come immediately to restart the broken Internet access. The main benefits of using apartments are lower price per head, savings on eating and possibility to host as many friends as the facility enables.
If you want to stay near St. Petersburg Pulkovo airport read this post.