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St-Petersburg as famous Russian city
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Who knows why he’s winking?!


IN THE OLD DAYS visitors to St. Petersburg were spared the agonizing decision of which hotel suited them best. Rather, hapless victims of the Soviet Intourist monopoly were hauled off to their “lodgings,” usually a drab concrete block of miserable service and inedible food, and the only people who paid any attention to them were the local KGB spooks and bands of adolescent black marketeers brandishing rabbit hats and military belts outside the hotel entrance.

Things have, of course, evolved significantly since then, and the addition of a few joint-venture hotels and a good dose of market competition has forced even the drabbest of concrete monstrosities to improve its service. Hotels that are competing for international clientele understand that to remain in the market they must provide adequate facilities and treat visitors as guests rather than gulag inmates.

Nevertheless, the accommodation situation still has plenty of room to improve. People not willing to spend top dollar for the city’s best will have to make a sacrifice, sometimes a serious one, in terms of location, room size, and/or quality. St. Petersburg has a serious lack of quality mid-range hotels and there are times (during the white nights, major festivals, and international conferences for example) when it can be next to impossible to find space in all but the skankiest of places.

Many hotels require you to leave your visa and passport with the Reception for registration purposes (all foreigners are required to have their visa registered: see Visas), though you can get them back whenever you wish. Be sure to take advantage of the hotel safe, by far the best place for important documents, cash, and other valuables.

Some hotel tariffs include meals, usually only breakfast, and any other meals taken in the hotel will be charged separately. In the cheaper hotels you should be prepared for periodic hot-water shutdowns, broken appliances, poor maid service, and a generally lower standard of everything.

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