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Four Seasons Lion Palace

First Look – Four Seasons Lion Palace: Back in the USSR
June 5, 2013
By , Contributor

The Russians have always had an advantage with dramatic novelists, leggy supermodels, and anything vodka-related. But there’s a new reason to be back in the USSR. In August, the Four Seasons Lion Palace opens in St. Petersburg, in the former residence of Princess Cleopatra Lobanova-Rostovskaya. And if you haven’t lived like Russian royalty yet... well, you just haven’t lived.

The hotel is in the historic Admiralteyskaya district, just two blocks from the Hermitage, with epic views of St. Isaac’s Cathedral. The entrance is appropriately flanked by two white marble lions – hence the nickname “House of Lions.” It was built in 1820 as an apartment house for the city’s elite, glorified in Pushkin’s poem The Bronze Horseman, and it has been meticulously restored to its former grandeur. And by grandeur, we mean an original sweeping stairway, vestibule, and entry hall, and a butter-yellow façade that’s as exact a 19th-century match as possible.

The 177 imperial Russian-style rooms have high ceilings, big windows, and all-marble bathrooms. (Which are brand new, by the way. Original architecture has its charm, but when it comes to plumbing, technology wins.) The guest rooms are actually the largest in St. Petersburg, and if you book one on the fifth floor, you’ll have your own private balcony with panoramic views of St. Isaac’s Cathedral.

In typical Four Seasons fashion, the four-level spa – that’s four-level spa – is set to be the best in the city. Situated within a triangular courtyard, there are eight treatment rooms, steamy saunas (complete with birch branches), and a sunlit relaxation pool beneath a glass ceiling. It’s the perfect place to nurse a hangover – and there will be hangovers. You’re in vodka’s hometown. When you eventually start craving something other than caviar, you can choose from four restaurant and bar options headed by Michelin-starred Executive Chef Andrea Accordi. Sintoho (a clever word-scramble that reflects Singapore, Tokyo, and Hong Kong) serves up Japanese and northern Asian dishes. Percorso’s menu is designed as a culinary tour of Italy with an Italian wine list. And, Xander Bar highlights zakuski (the Russian equivalent of tapas) and offers over 40 vodkas as well as the city’s best selection of champagnes by the glass. Fun fact: Xander Bar is named after Tsar Alexander II, for whom Cristal was created. And last but not least, there’s the requisite Tea Lounge, which means you’ll finally have the chance to be served from a samovar.