Sleep Like A Tsar

Perhaps you have always wanted to sleep in a summer palace. Here is your chance. Peter the Great built his summer palace at Strelna, a town about 24km from St Petersburg (see p219), and now it is Putin's presidential palace. Putin houses his guests on the grounds at the Baltic Star Hotel (§§ 4385700; www.balticstar-hotel.ru; Beriozovaya al 3; s & d €180-390, ste €375-1000, cottage €4200). If it's not otherwise occupied, you could stay here too.

The hotel opened in 2003, when a group of European leaders were in town for a Russia-EU summit. These days it is open to the public.

Besides the 100 well-appointed rooms in the main hotel, there are 18 VIP cottages on the shore of the Gulf of Finland. The cottages, named for different Russian cities, are decorated with original artwork appropriate to the region. Each is equipped with a private dining room, study, sauna, swimming pool and, of course, staff quarters for your entourage.

as the music of its namesake composer. Stuffed full of antiques, the understated rooms nonetheless enjoy a modern feel, with hardwood floors, exposed brick walls and otherwise minimalist décor. The premises are adorned with photography and paintings adorn the premises, which sometimes host gatherings of artists and musicians who are staying in the city.

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