St Petersburg is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in the world but until recently it lagged somewhat in terms of accommodation. Only two hotels offered quality five-star service the Astoria and the Kempinski. But that's all changed now. The Four Seasons has completed its renovation of the Lion Palace built in the early 1800s for Prince Lobanov-Rostovsky creating a truly luxurious hotel in the city.
The hotel is located directly across from St Isaac's Cathedral, with its spectacular golden dome. The Hermitage, formerly the Tsar's Winter Palace, now home to one of the world's biggest art collections (buy your tickets online at hermitagemuseum.org to avoid the queues), is just a five-minute stroll away, as is the main shopping area.
The Lion Palace was originally designed as apartments to accommodate Russia's many royals, so few compromises were made when converting it into a hotel. It retains its palatial features in the communal areas, with high ceilings and chandeliers, while the wood-panelled bar has a huge fireplace. The rooms are well-proportioned and retain some of their original grandeur, with large bathrooms and floor-to-ceiling windows. Try to get a room with a view of St Isaac's it really is magical to sit on your balcony and watch the sun set behind the dome.
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There are plenty of eateries in St Petersburg, but don't neglect Percorso, the hotel's Italian restaurant I can particularly recommend the veal escalope with risotto. If you'd prefer a more authentic Russian dining experience, head to Meathead, which offers a huge array of steaks, cooked to perfection and served with an excellent range of side dishes.
For afters, the "coffee symphony", several miniature coffee-flavoured desserts, is delicious. And after a hard day's sightseeing, you can unwind at the hotel spa, where the hydrotherapy pool is particularly useful for soothing your aching muscles after pounding the pavements of the city.
Doubles cost from £250 at the Four Seasons Lion Palace, on a room-only basis. For more information visit fourseasons.com/stpetersburg, or call 00 800-6488 6488.
Ways to escape the tyranny of your mobile
For real solitude, try Eremito (pictured), a retreat in Umbria. Speaking is discouraged and the hermitage-style hotel has only single "cells" to sleep in, with meals (all vegetarian) taken insilence at communal tables. There is no TV, internet or phone reception. Entertainment comprises "voluntary palm-reading sessions, a small heated rock pool and a steam room". From £119, full board (00 39 0763 891010; eremito.com).
Get back to nature with a stay at Mustang Monument in Nevada. This 900-square-mile ranch-style resort is a horse sanctuary. There is no mobile signal or Wi-Fi outside of the main house. Activities range from horse riding and roping lessons to desert hikes and rock climbing. Bedrooms are in luxurious hand-painted teepees or log cabins, with 24-hour butler service. Prices from £848 a night for up to two adults and one child, full-board, including most activities (00 1 888 979 1422; mustangmonument.com).
Ruth Jackson-Kirby is a freelance personal finance journalist with 17 years’ experience, writing about everything from savings and credit cards to pensions, property and pet insurance.
Ruth started her career at MoneyWeek after graduating with an MA from the University of St Andrews, and she continues to contribute regular articles to our personal finance section. After leaving MoneyWeek she went on to become deputy editor of Moneywise before becoming a freelance journalist.
Ruth writes regularly for national publications including The Sunday Times, The Times, The Mail on Sunday and Good Housekeeping among many other titles both online and offline.
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