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travel

Back in the Former U.S.S.R.

Sure, it’s below freezing outside. But in Moscow, it’s always hot indoors. Very, very hot.

Check In
The Swissôtel Krasnye Holmy (Kosmodamianskaya Naberezhnaya 52, building 6; +7-095-787-9800), the newest must-stay spot, is one of the the tallest buildings in Moscow, with the City Space Bar that overlooks the entire city, state-of-the-art bedrooms, and a well-equipped business center.

Check, Please
There are 127 McDonald’s restaurants in Russia. Skip them all. For a trusty Russian lunch of borscht and bread, stop by one of the many Elki-Palki around town. Or treat yourself to caviar from the seriously decadent Yeliseev’s (Tverskaya Ulitsa 14, Tevrskaya; +7-095-209-6315).

galereya!

For dinner, head to one of It restaurateur Arkady Novikov’s spots: Vanil (Ostozhenka Ulitsa 1, Kroptkinskaya; +7-095-202-3341), Galereya (Petrovka Ulitsa 27, Chekhovskaya; +7-095-937-4544), or Vogue Cafe (Kuznetsky Most Ulitsa 7/9, Kuznetsky Most; +7-095-923-1701). These are just a few; he’s got about 90.

Then get drinking. The best vodka comes with a slice of carrot cake at Cafe Pushkin (Tverskoy Bulvar 26a, Pushkinskaya; +7-095-229-5590). Follow that with cocktails at Milk & Honey (Myasnitskaya Ulitsa 38, Lubyanka/Chistiye Prudy); +7-095-928-9947) and a quick boogie at First (Sofiyskaya Naberezhnaya 34, Novokuzneckaja; +7-095-951-3598).

fun!Cash or Check?
Shopping? Oh, yes. Don’t miss GUM, the gigantic and legendary department store in Red Square. Got cash to burn? Find Gucci, YSL, Prada, and the like on Tretyakov Proezd (Kitai Gorod); Le Form (Povarskaya Ulitsa 35/28, Presnensky; +7-095-291-8220) stocks Dries van Noten and Comme des Garçons.

For something more regional (and less financially crippling), visit Vernisazh Market in Izmaylovsky Park for inexpensive wooden babushka dolls, vintage linens, and antiques — and watch the two performing bears and their bearded master at the entrance. Get a hot meat pie to warm you up. 

red square!Check It Out
To appreciate the warmth of the Muscovites, it helps to hear about the communist history from which they’ve emerged. Navigating the city can be a real challenge, so it’s worth investing in a guide like Natalia Solomko (+7-008-910-446-0611 or choco_land9@hotmail.com) — or you can just eavesdrop on someone else’s. Don’t miss the must-sees: the Kremlin and the Armoury (for breathtaking gems and opulent national treasures), then Red Square, St. Basil’s Cathedral, and Lenin’s mausoleum, which always has a beastly line.

Check Out
Recover with a spot of ice skating in Gorky Park (Krymsky Val Ulitsa 9, Oktyabrskaya) or Dinamo Tennis Club (Petrovka Ulitsa 26, Tverskaya; +7-095-209-6809). Then relax at the Anne Sémonin Tretyakov Spa (Tretyakovsky Proezd 1, Kitai Gorod; +7-095-933-3388) or, even better, at the local banya, where you’ll sit, naked, in a vast communal sauna while several members of the same sex (also nude) thrash birch twigs over each other. The oldest is Sandunovsky Baths (Neglinnaya Ulitsa 14, Kuznetsky Most; +7-095-925-4631).

Hot enough for you?