St. Petersburg has a past that is at once drenched in blood, draped with furs and dripping with diamonds. Built from the smouldering ruins of an enemy fortress by Tsar Peter the Great, it was for over two centuries the seat of one of Europe’s most powerful monarchies and the backdrop for some of the most dramatic and significant moments in twentieth century history.
Often described as the Venice of the North, it was created by a series of the world’s foremost, mainly Italian, architects who stunningly rendered the famously Europhile Tsar’s baroque fantasy an extraordinary reality. The Tsars’ fabulous wealth, the glamorous intrigue of their court, and their legendary lust for culture magnetized St. Petersburg, effortlessly drawing the finest of everything - the elite of European society, the most valuable art and renowned artists in the world - and making it one of the centres of international culture and refinement.
The Tsars and the totalitarianism that so violently replaced them are long gone now of course, but what the former created the latter could never completely destroy. The second most populous city in Russia where a large proportion of its wealth is concentrated, contemporary St. Petersburg is a dominant force in a resurgent Russia’s staggering economic renaissance, its fabulously wealthy citizens famed for their extravagance. What remains thrillingly alive in St. Petersburg is an unquenchable thirst for luxury, a vibrant sense of living culture that flows through the city and its citizens like electricity, and breathtaking architecture that rivals any in the world, and is a prestigious World Heritage Site protected by UNESCO.
Nowhere can this confluence of the sumptuous cultural artefacts of a bygone golden era and the contemporary culture that lives thrillingly amongst and of them be seen more clearly than at The Hermitage, the world’s largest art museum.
Based in the Winter Palace, still rightly regarded as one of the most beautiful royal residences ever conceived, The Hermitage displays just a fraction of the vast collection of masterpieces amassed by the Tsars. A timeless classic of baroque architecture, this exquisite monument to the power of monarchy is now drawing a whole new generation to St. Petersburg almost a century after the Romanovs’ downfall in 1917.
Walking through St. Petersburg from the Winter Palace, amongst the glittering facets of this Russian jewel such as the Mariinsky Theatre, whose stage was graced by such ballet legends as Nijinsky, Pavlova, Nureyev, and Baryshnikov, it takes a mere few minutes to arrive at the W St. Petersburg.
Owned by hospitality giant Starwood Hotels, the name behind such classic luxury brands as St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, Westin, Le Méridien, Sheraton, Four Points by Sheraton, Aloft, and Element SM, W Hotels is one of most rapidly expanding global lifestyle hotel brands. W Hotels blend an unwavering commitment to cutting edge luxury design with a passionate belief in the lifestyle hotel as a social hub that caters to the life lived beyond the overnight experience and room service. They offer the finest in contemporary cuisine, über-cool nightspots, the latest music, high class retail services and luxury spas.
W Hotels are located in some of the most prestigious luxury destinations in the world such as New York, Hong Kong, London, Mexico City and Istanbul - cities renowned throughout the world for their stylish and lavish lifestyles. That St. Petersburg has been selected as the brand’s latest venture is further indication of the city’s status as one of the emerging international destinations on the global lifestyle map.
Leading architects Antonio Citterio and Patricia Viel Partners took the Fabergé egg as their inspiration for the W St. Petersburg’s delightful design scheme. On the luxury of silent hinges, the ornate doors and apertures of these exquisite baubles, produced exclusively for the Tsars’ between 1885 and 1917, swing effortlessly open onto the interior, anterior truth that no narrative is new. In the same way the W Hotel opens to reveal layer on sumptuous layer, drawing the guest and their curiosity on a journey through the intricate workings of luxury - a concept as old as royalty itself.
Wherever guests begin, their evening is sure to finish at the sumptuous rooftop experience miX, a signature restaurant, bar and lounge by Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse. This French native is the culinary mastermind behind an extraordinary string of international haute cuisine outfits, Le Louis XV in Monaco and Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée in Paris, to name but two.
It is fitting, of course that in St. Petersburg, guests can look forward to a taste of living like a modern Tsar - with such ultimate luxuries as the signature Extreme WOW suite, and their every whim being attended to by W’s world famous Whatever/Whenever service. The state of the art SWEAT® Fitness Center, which features Technogym technology, a luxury spa and an indoor pool, is the perfect place to recharge batteries after a heady starlit night at miX.
The Winter Palace - where the mythic 1903 Ball took place - and the Fabergé egg are priceless examples of St. Petersburg’s unique relationship with extreme wealth and ultimate luxury - living artefacts of the opulent past of this icon of metropolitan nobility.
Encrusted with jewels set in the most precious of metals they remain symbols of not only the Tsars’ gilded decorousness, but also the whims of the fabulously wealthy everywhere. Rubbing shoulders with the Winter Palace and forged in the intricate Fabergé patterns, that spirit lives and breathes anew at the W St. Petersburg.
- Benjamin Stewart
W St. Petersburg
Address: 6 Voznesensky Prospect
St. Petersburg, 190000
Tel: 812 610 6161
W St. Petersburg