Hotels have become more affordable for foreigners, due to the weak rouble, but Moscow is still not a cheap place to sleep. The city is flush with international luxury hotels, but more affordable hotels are harder to find. Fortunately, a slew of hostels have opened, and more midrange accommodation is now also appearing, usually in the form of 'mini-hotels'.
Five-star hotels offer fabulous service and amenities, but you will pay for them. Don’t expect much value for your money at midrange hotels. Hostels, on the other hand, often offer friendly faces and loads of services for the price of a dorm bed.
Advance reservations are highly recommended, especially if you intend to stay at a mini-hotel or hostel, most of which only have a handful of rooms that are often booked out. Weekdays (Sunday to Thursday nights) are especially busy – and more expensive – due to business travellers.
The most visible type of accommodation in Moscow is the palatial four- or five-star hotel, which proliferated in the 2000s. Priced for the business market, they may be prohibitively expensive for some travellers.
At the other end of the spectrum is the Soviet gostinitsa (hotel). These old-style institutions have gradually adapted to the needs of the modern traveller, and most have undertaken some degree of renovation. As a result, the quality of rooms can vary widely, and prices usually do too (even within the same hotel).
In recent years, some smaller private hotels have opened in Moscow. Many are housed in historic buildings, and their smaller size means they offer more intimacy than the larger chain hotels. However, the level of comfort and service at these smaller hotels can vary widely.
Privately owned 'mini-hotels' usually occupy a few floors in an apartment building. The rooms have been renovated to comfortably accommodate guests, but the hotel itself (which might have a dozen rooms or less) does not usually offer other facilities. Considering the shortage of midrange options, mini-hotels are among the best-value accommodation in the city.
In recent years, dozens of hostels have opened in Moscow, much to the delight of budget travellers. Many have been converted from flats or kommunalky (communal apartments), so they are often located in innocuous, unmarked buildings on residential streets. All hostels offer English-speaking staff, internet access, linen, kitchens and laundry facilities. Hostel prices do not usually include breakfast.
Some entrepreneurial Muscovites rent out apartments on a short-term basis. Flats are equipped with kitchens and laundry facilities, and they almost always offer wi-fi access. The rental agency usually makes arrangements for the flat to be cleaned every day or every few days. Often, a good-sized flat is available for the price of a hotel room, or less. It is an ideal solution for families or travellers in a small group.
Prices for apartments start at around R5000 per night. Expect to pay more for fully renovated, Western-style apartments. Although there are usually discounts for longer stays, they are not significant, so these services are not ideal for long-term renters.
- Moscow Suites Slick apartments in central locations on Tverskaya or Novy Arbat. Airport pick-up and visa support are included in the price.
- Intermark Hospitality Catering mostly to business travellers, Intermark offers four-star accommodation in the city centre.
- Enjoy Moscow Has a range of apartments in the Tverskoy district. Apartments vary in size and decor, but the company provides responsive, reliable service.
- HOFA Authentic (and affordable) stays in a Russian family's apartment (with or without the family).
- Moscow4rent.com Centrally located flats, with internet, satellite TV and unlimited international phone calls.
Moscow doesn’t provide much value for money when it comes to the hospitality industry. Luxury hotels are indeed top notch, but they have prices to match. Expect to pay upwards of R10,000 for a night at one of Moscow’s top-end hotels. If you can forgo a degree of luxury, you can stay in a classy, comfortable and centrally located hotel for R8000 to R10,000 for a double.
Midrange travellers can choose from a range of hotels, which offer decent rooms and amenities for R3000 to R8000 for a double. This wide-ranging category includes some Soviet-era properties that have been upgraded to varying degrees, as well as mini-hotels and three-star Western chains. Budget accommodation is usually dorm-style, although there are a few private rooms available for less than R3000.
Accommodation is harder to find during the week than on weekends, and prices are usually lower on Friday and Saturday nights. Seasonal fluctuations are not significant.
Need to Know
Most hotels accept credit cards, but some hostels do not. Many hotels set their prices in dollars or euros. So-called uslovie yedenitsiy (often abbreviated as 'у.е.'), or standard units, are usually equivalent to euros. You will always be required to pay in roubles.
Prices include the 18% value-added tax (VAT), but not the 5% sales tax, which is charged mainly at luxury hotels.
Reservations are highly recommended. Unfortunately, some old-style hotels still charge a reservation fee, usually 20% but sometimes as much as 50% of the first night’s tariff.