Arriving at Vnukovo Airport in Moscow and heading to the Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow
Christine Cunanan checks into the Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow, considered among the city’s best, and
discovers the real heart of Russia
For my recent visit to Moscow, I booked the five-star Ararat
Park Hyatt Moscow for two reasons: its high online ratings from guests and its
It stands on a relatively quiet street next to a
neighborhood of 19th century buildings in the vicinity of the
fashionable Neglinnaya Street that has been wonderfully restored and then
turned into an enclave of stylish shops and cafes; and yet it is only a short stroll away
from the historical heart of this ancient city, and therefore the center of Russia.
A striking shot of the glass elevators with a view of the Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow
The newly-reopened 19th century Maly Theater,
famous for the staging of plays for the czars and the aristocracy, is right in
front of it, while the Bolshoi Theater (which takes all of four minutes to reach on foot), the Red Square and the Kremlin are all only
short strolls away.
View of Old Moscow from the Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow
Moscow is a city with an old soul, a glorious and also
event-filled past, and a colorful present. Amidst the cacophony of sensations
that this unusual combination produces, the Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow is a
refreshingly calm oasis for travelers.
Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow is an oasis for travelers
From the outside, the building looks simple and unassuming, as many Park Hyatt hotelsare, in contrast to the explosion of colors, details and styles of hotels elsewhere in the city.
The modern exteriors are steel and glass with just a bit of the classic, as the traditionally elegant décor of the hotel’s Café Ararat — a place regarded as the best Armenian restaurant in town,andan authentic remake of a legendary restaurant of the same name that had been operating for decades.
Café Ararat that provides a vista of the beautiful Moscow city skyline
Meanwhile, the inside is a complete surprise. The lobby is a
cavernous empty space that extends until the ceiling, with the guest rooms
encircling this open area accessible via two glass elevators.
From the bottom,
the view upwards reminds me of a modern art museum like the Georges Pompidou in
Paris or a cutting-edge industrial plant – but one with an unmistakably lively
vibe as the Ararat Park Hyatt is a great favorite of the beautiful people ofMoscow.
From the rooftop looking down at the lobby at the Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow
My deluxe room on the sixth floor of the Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow, with dark woods and
colors, and contemporary classic furnishings, had a wonderful view of old
It was just high enough so that I could look out and see the ornate
rooftops of the city buildings as well as the goings on along the streets
Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow’srenovated deluxe rooms have one
king bed with luxurious linens, custom-made furniture, and a large work desk with
all the requisite technological amenities
Wellness, Russian style
The Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow is also known for its spa treatments. Foremost
among these is the Russian banya, the local version of a combined sauna and steam
bath, with a plunge into an ice cold pool and a bit of whipping with dried branches
of birch trees. Traditionally, the Russian sauna is heated to much higher
temperatures than the Western-style sauna.
There are public bathhouses around the city, too, like the
historic Sandunovskie Banya with its ornate interiors (there’s a general hall and 13 rooms all decorated in distinctive styles reminiscent of Russian, Greek and Turkish architecture); not a few Muscovites
also have their own facilities at home.
Who wouldn’t want to dig into this after a relaxing banya session?
But for tourists like myself, the Russian banya experience at the Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow provides a most
authentic and yet comfortable and private way to experience this favorite
Russian practice, said to help with everything from blood circulation to
My personal banya experience began with the hotel’s Quantum Spa & Health Club began with a five-minute stay in the sauna, heated to extremes, Russian-style. When I checked the temperature inside, it hovered between 70 and 80 degrees Celsius, in contrast to a typical Western sauna which usually never strays far from 40 degrees.
Then the attendant took a bundle of dried birch tree branches out of a large pail of water, tied up so that these formed a giant fan, and swished this over the sauna stove so that even hotter aromatic vapors filled the air.
Wellness, Russian-style at Quantum Spa & Health Club
Not too hot to handle
“This is a real detox,” I thought to myself, as I prepared
to doze off. I felt like I had just run a marathon even if all I did was lie
down on the planks of the hottest sauna I have ever entered in my life. Towards
the end of the session, the temperature in the Russian sauna approached 100 degrees.
“Next step, please,” the attendant then said, breaking my
She ushered me out of the sauna and pointed to a pool next
to it just larger than a jacuzzi for two. I got in and, just like the sauna,
everything about it was extreme. The water was freezing – but only for a few
seconds as my body adjusted to the drastic temperature change – and the pool
itself, which was small in diameter, was so deep that I failed to touch the
bottom even when I dropped down to do so.
It was completely invigorating, to say the least, and I
happily discovered that I could actually stay comfortably in this icy cold
water for a solid few minutes.
Getting out of the pool, I was given a plush
bathrobe and a five-minute break on the couch complete with herbal tea and a
plate of fruits and sweets.
Dinner on a rooftop
Kamchatka crab at the Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow
Despite the call to sleep after a most relaxing experience coupled with jetlag, resting in my room was not to be. I’d made an appointment for
dinner with a Moscow friend at the Conservatory Lounge & Bar on the 10th floor and rooftop
of the hotel.
The Conservatory Lounge & Bar of the Park Hyatt Moscow is very popular among Russia’s fashionable people so tables are scarce on most nights without an advance booking; but the efforts to secure one in advance are worth it as the atmosphere is electric with a mixture of the energy and enthusiasm of the chefs working in the open air kitchen on the terrace and the chic guests.
Take word of Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow‘s expert chefs when asking about which Russian dishes to try first!
The food here is casual and contemporary – no heavy Russian
stews and soups, as far as I could see, save for the traditional beetroot
borscht – and perfect for a nice evening out.
We ordered all the chef’s
specialties including a bruschetta with Kamchatka craband avocado, and a beef
tartar with black garlic and egg, before sharing a rib-eye steak with all the
sidings between us.
Starting the day right
Guests will never tire of this breakfast at the Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow
My favorite memory of the Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow, however, pertains to breakfast, held in a large and bright room on the second floor of the hotel.
Here I would order eggs benedict with smoked salmon everyday; and over it I would
spoon a generous serving of red caviar, lightly salted and fresh from the cold seas of this vast, intoxicating and yet unpredictable country.
It was delicious in a wildly decadent way, and with each spoonful, the glory of Moscow that I had seen and experienced on this visit came alive.