Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Russia & Sweden 2014


Hotel 1: Hilton T4, London Heathrow
Saturday 17 May to Sunday 18 May (1 night)
Room 355 (Twin)
This was thoroughly familiar territory, even though it's not the easiest hotel to reach from Terminal 5. (The 'Hoppa' service is so overpriced and unattractive that we decided to take the free train instead, changing at Heathrow Central). We had a pleasant enough room above the front entrance and thanks to my Diamond membership of Hilton HHonors, we were given access to the ground-floor Executive Lounge. The hotel features multiple dining options and the highlight of the stay was a delightful (but expensive) dinner at Zen Oriental.
Hotel 2: InterContinental Tverskaya, Moscow  
Sunday 18 May to Wednesday 21 May (3 nights)
Room 1004 (Twin Deluxe)
The InterContinental has a good location on Tverskaya Street, which is arguably central Moscow's best-known through route, starting at Red Square and heading off out of town in the direction of St Petersburg. The hotel is situated close to Pushkin Square and it's a moderate downhill walk of about 2km (or 25 minutes) to Red Square. Alternatively, three different metro lines have stops nearby.

The property and the service were fully up to five-star standards and Bruce's Platinum Ambassador status secured an upgrade and a few nice in-room amenities. The lobby bar was an attractive space, where it was possible to enjoy a wide selection of drinks and some light food while watching the endless procession of people and traffic up and down the street outside.

Overall, a truly first-class, full-service experience: highly recommended.
Hotel 3: Renaissance Baltic, St Petersburg  
Wednesday 21 May to Friday 23 May (2 nights)
Room 515 (Twin)
The Renaissance Baltic enjoys an excellent location, just steps away from St Isaac's Cathedral and a few minutes' walk from the Admiralty Embankment, Nevsky Prospekt and the State Hermitage Museum. Although the Baltic's own website repeatedly refers to it as a 'boutique hotel', I thought of it more as a good, solid chain offering. The room was on the small and plain side, but was also clean and functional. It faced onto the internal atrium, which wouldn't necessarily be to everyone's taste.

The attractive lobby featured a nice bar as well as the in-house restaurant, which I can confirm (thanks to Bruce's Gold status with Marriott) did a good job at breakfast time. The sixth-floor Summer Terrace looked pretty, but offered limited shade from the searing sun. As the indoor area there was completely lacking in ambience, we much preferred the lobby bar.
Hotel 4: Hilton Slussen, Stockholm  
Friday 23 May to Monday 26 May (3 nights)
Room 514 (Twin with Balcony)
The hotel is situated adjacent to, and named after, the lock on the northern shore of the island of Södermalm that separates Lake Mälaren from the Baltic. It is also directly beside the Slussen T-bana (metro) station. In addition to the metro, a major highway and a suburban railway cross the water at this point. Fortunately, hidden among all this main route infrastructure, there are at least two paths suitable for walking, so that hotel guests can make their way safely and quickly to the old town area of Gamla Stan.

The hotel has nearly 300 rooms split over two buildings. The annex building sits directly above the mouth of the tunnel that takes both the main road and the suburban rail line under the hilly centre of Södermalm. We had one of the small attic rooms that featured tiny balconies. The view just about made up for the space constraints, but the air conditioning struggled to cope with the exceptional heat-wave conditions that applied during our stay. Traffic noise - admittedly limited at night - was the price we had to pay in order to stay tolerably cool.

The Executive Lounge in the main building put out a nice spread for breakfast and again at happy hour, but the facility proved to be far too small for the number of people entitled to use it.

Despite being situated directly over a busy road and suburban rail route, and adjacent to the metro, our room had good views of Gamla Stan and beyond