Articles / Rubric: Life-Style

A Tsarist Abode
February 2013 | Life-Style

This year, the five-star Taleon Imperial Hotel, the only luxury hotel of its class in Russia, a member of the Leading Hotels of the World and Virtuoso associations, is unveiling new luxury rooms. The room design and interiors will be consistent with the overall style of the palace, which dates back to the 18th century.

Designers have planned out the interiors of 25 classical and 6 luxury rooms that will be done up in an early-19th-century style. Marble in the bathrooms, stucco, and either wool carpets or hardwood floors in the guest rooms will accentuate their elegance and luxury.

At the Taleon, everything meets the highest standards and was once selected by the owners of the palace, from the marble and gilt walls to the paintings and mosaic floors.

Empress Elizabeth Petrovna lived here, as did her nephew Pyotr Fedorovich (the future Emperor Peter III) with his wife, the future Catherine II, and heir Pavel Petrovich (the future Emperor Paul I). Empress Elizabeth lived here for the final six months of her life until 1761, and didn’t manage to move to the stone Winter Palace.

At one time or another, the palace complex belonged to St. Petersburg Chief of Police General Nikolay Ivanovich Checherin, statesman and diplomat Duke A.B. Kurakin, merchants A.I. Perets and A.I. Kosikovskiy, and a well know businessman of that time, Eliseyev, who was the founder of the Eliseyev Emporium retail complex.

The walls of the Taleon are steeped in history, art, literature, and music. People who worked here and created timeless masterpieces include Ivan Turgenev, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin, and the poet Yakov Polonsky. The first concerts of the Russian Musical Society under the baton of Anton Rubinstein were given here. Alexander Green finished Scarlet Sails here and created the first Soviet satire, The Pied Piper; Olga Forsh wrote the first Soviet historical novel, Palace and Prison (about the 19th-century revolutionaries) and published The Lunatic Ship; Alexander Blok and Andrei Bely often read their poetry here. During the reign of Alexander I, Pushkin loved to visit the popular Talon restaurant.

With its famous buildings, today’s Taleon is linked to many interesting legends and myths. One such story that has survived to our times is about the Eliseyev silverware. According to legend, before going abroad to escape the October Revolution, the lord and a servant hid the silver somewhere in the walls of the four buildings, with the expectation of his imminent return after the fall of the Bolsheviks. Eliseyev’s servant told a Soviet writer who lived in the Art Center about this, and the latter comically went looking for the silver once he received his monthly food ration with black pepper and a bay leaf. But it was for naught. Perhaps this treasure is today still hidden in one of the many walls of Eliseyev’s palace.

In the former reception area and Eliseyev’s office the Taleon restaurant now stands, one of the hotel’s three restaurants (the two others are the Victoria Russian restaurant and the Griboedov gastronomic bar). It was here that chef Alexander Dregolsky fed Denmark’s Queen Margerette II Siberian sturgeon cooked in champagne and served with a chanterelle ragu. His other masterpieces included veal chops fried in breadcrumbs with a mild celery cream, capers and a lemon wedge; scallops fried with sesame seeds with a seaweed salad with garlic-ginger dressing; and tuna tartar with fresh strawberries, avocado, and arugula.

Guests are attracted not just to the amazing culinary delights, but to the exclusive spa on the roof with an indoor swimming pool, which won the “St. Petersburg High Style” award for “World Class Products and Services” and the “Continuing St. Petersburg Traditions” nominations. Stunning views open up from the windows of the spa center. If guests don’t have time for a tour of St. Petersburg, they see the main attractions of Russia’s northern capital from the comfort of a deck chair through the spa’s windows. The Hermitage State Museum and Palace Square are just a five-minute walk from the hotel.

In addition to two pools, there are Finnish and infrared saunas, a Turkish steam room, a massage room, a “hayloft,” a salt room and a sun terrace. But the highlight of the spa center is the royal Eliseyev Sauna. After three rounds of steam with oak branches and eucalyptus scent and a dip in the icy pool, even the most discerning visitor will feel reborn.

Every guest is met by a personal butler, who will take care of any desire, whether breakfast in your room or timely deliveries from the dry cleaners. Every year, butlers at the Taleon Imperial Hotel undergo training at the Academy of the Guild of Professional English Butlers, where they are taught the subtleties of skills such as communicating with guests of different nationalities.

Arab Sheikhs staying at the hotel with their families prefer the Emperor or Empress suites, while French singer and actress Patricia Kaas likes the Eliseyev Suite. The Emperor and Empress suites were restored with marble fireplaces and columns in an area of more than 200 square meters, and are considered to be some of the largest in Russia.

In 2012, the Taleon Imperial Hotel was the winner of the Travelers’ Choice Awards and in 2011 it was included in Conde Nast Traveler magazine’s collection of the best hotels around the world. Today, Trip Advisor, the most authoritative internet resource for tourists, recommends the Taleon Imperial Hotel as one of the best premium hotels in Russia.

Text: Anastasia Yakovleva

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