As the rest of the world escapes the frosty bites of the winter, Belmond Grand Hotel Europe in St. Petersburg embraces its snowy sanctuary. The colourful city transforms into a white, wintry haven; the whiteout creating playtime activities that are hard to replicate elsewhere.
With a ‘White Days’ theme, learn how to skate like a pro with Belmond’s special partnership with the Coach of Russian Figure-Skating and trainer of multiple Olympic champions. Try one’s hands at ice sculpturing and with the help of a master sculptor, attempt to create figurines more complicated than a simple doorstopper; a cupid perhaps. For the kids, a Troika sleigh ride along the city’s snow covered boulevards is a fantasy journey.
Experiencing the city’s whiteout with a historical perspective has its own unique charm. The hotel’s Historic Floor showcases ten suites that have been frequented by the world’s royalty, celebrities and artists. Each suite, brilliantly constructed to its attributed historical name, shines with an opulent French aesthetic under the hands of Michel Jouannet, known for his restoration work in many Belmond properties. Spanning from 55 to 97 sqm and 4.3-metre-high ceilings, the suites dramatically gaze out into the delightful Arts Square.
Among the cherished rooms: the Pavarotti Suite, endowed with an antique grand piano and styled with the aesthetics of the opera houses, aptly named for the celebrated Italian tenor who once stayed in this room in his final tours and the Romanov Suite, named in honour of the Imperial Russian dynasty whose members frequented the hotel. St. Petersburg could be a start of an excellent winter vacation. belmond.com ◼
© This article was first published in Dec-Jan 2020 edition of World Travel Magazine.