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Located in the heart of the Russian Imperial city on the corner of Nevsky Prospekt and Mikhailovskaya Ulitsa, Grand Hotel Europe is justifiably proud of its 130 years of flawless hospitality.  Its history really began in 1816, when architect Carlo Rossi was commissioned to construct a palace for the younger brother of Tsar Alexander I, the Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich.  Rossi created an architectural complex for St. Petersburg, bringing together the new palace and the nearby streets into one composition, with the palace as its centerpiece. Two centuries later, it continues to awe visitors with one of the most beautiful vistas of the city.   The Grand Hotel Europe and the Philharmonic Hall, whose façades were designed later by Rossi, flank Mikhailovskaya Ulitsa, the grand boulevard designed to provide an unparalleled view of the palace and Arts Square.

 

Since its grand opening in 1875, the Grand Hotel Europe has served as the premier hotel of St. Petersburg.  There were periods when its hospitality was of a different nature – in 1919 as an orphanage and in 1941-42, during the siege of Lenningrad, it served as a hospital.  Refurbished over the years to provide the best in comfort, service and cuisine, the hotel was last renovated in 1991.  The hotel has an impressive collection of art: ancient marble sculptures, bas-reliefs and busts as well as 20th century metal sculptures and paintings, all of which are protected by the St. Petersburg Cultural Heritage.

 

There are several restaurants to choose from, but dining at the L’Europe, which opened in 1905, is an event that will long be remembered.  The original and still brilliant stain glass window of this Art Nouveau dining room is exquisite and serves as a backdrop for the pianist and harpist who play softly as one dines by candlelight. Just as European and Russian traditions were merged to create the city itself, Chef Dominique Ferchaud has fused the best of European and Russian culinary traditions, with an emphasis on French cuisine, and the result is world-class.  Anton, the Maitre d’ and a perfect gentleman, orchestrates an evening of dining par excellence, made more unforgettable by the long-stem rose he placed in front of me at meal’s end.

 

Exit the hotel and across the street is the 1920’s Great Hall of the St. Petersburg Philharmonia, where you can enjoy an evening of music.  Turn left and you will be drawn down the grand boulevard to the lovely Arts Square with its bronze statue of Pushkin centered in the garden.  The beautiful lemon curd-yellow Mikhailovsky Palace, which now houses the Russian Museum, showcases an impressive collection of Russian art.  To the left, is the historic Mussorgsky Opera and Ballet Theater.  Around the corner, the magnificent Church on Spilled Blood, with its gilded onion domes and riot of candy-like colors and textures, sits reflected in the waters of the tree-lined Griboedov Canal.

 

Yes, Peter’s City, built on water, is indeed a “Window on Europe” and the Grand Hotel Europe offers the grandest window of all!


March 2007

All images and reviews copyright 2015 by Ginda Simpson

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Belmond Grand Hotel Europe

Mikhaylovskaya ul., 1/7, St Petersburg, Russia,

View from Belmond Grand Hotel Europe ~ Original watercolor painting by Ginda Simpson

This hotel is featured in my travel story: A Grand Walk in the City of Peter the Great