As the new Russia comes alive, and the major hotel chains pile into central Moscow, there is no shortage of the world’s most famous and luxurious establish-ments keen to offer you a bed. However, if you prefer something more unique than a place with a corporate plaque next to the door, then the Golden Apple Boutique is worth checking out.
A mini Sanderson with a huge Golden Apple alcove seat in the reception of the hotel reflects the confidence the city now feels about itself. The rooms are stylish, everything works and the hotel service is excellent. The restaurant and bar are the focal point for guests from the worlds of media, fashion and finance and perhaps the hotel’s greatest feat is in relaxing you so much you never have to worry about where the hell you are.
The last time I was in Russia I was billeted in a tower block on the outskirts of St Petersburg with tea towels for curtains and coffee filter papers for toilet roll. This was fifteen years ago, and the hellhole was the only place available because of a religious convention in town. The difference in the atmosphere there now couldn't be more stark. Whilst Russia's political history and natural beauty has been well-documented, the talking point on my last visit was everything the country didn't have – nothing in the shops, no paint, no decent food. By contrast, the starting point for any observation is now how much they have – luxury shopping villages, a retail mall that could be anywhere in the world, great restaurants and amazing nightclubs. Not to mention so many stunning women from all over the former Soviet Union. Add to this the grand majestic sweep of the city's architecture and war memorials mixing with the super-size ad hoardings that are now stretched round Pushkin Square, and you have a city very much in the grip of a wider social transformation.
Moscow is too proud a city to surrender totally to the wave of Western commercial-isation, and this is where the Golden Apple stands out. For a start it already has international recognition; asking a Russian friend living in London where I should stay she immediately offered the Golden Apple at one end of the scale and a grander establishment with more history at the other. I plumped for the Golden Apple because its intriguing name suggested there might be more fun to be had there. It's not only visitors who are seeking out this sexy den, it has its uses for Muscovites too. ‘Ah the Golden Apple,’ sighs a Vogue staffer, ‘I have been in every one of their 90 odd rooms. I was having an affair with a married man for many years and that was the most romantic and secretive place we could meet at.’
Situated just off Pushkin and within walking distance of the city's best restaurants and the Kremlin it is an ideal bolthole for those who want both culture and excitement.
Golden Apple Boutique Hotel 11 Malaya Dmitrovka, 12700 Moscow, Russia