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Sleeping for Gold

When we get to Moscow, we’re a bit dazed after almost three days on the train. Getting a hotel seems complicated – the first place we had a reservation at has never received anything about us and prices seem to have tripled. We go for the backup reservation – Hotel Izmaylovo.

It’s not every night that you can lay your head where Olympic champions once dossed down, but this massive hotel is a former Olympic village. With more than 8000 rooms across four different buildings, it remains one of Europe’s largest hotels despite being built way back in 1979. It’s so large that we’re not sure which of the massive four buildings to head for. Are we in Delta or Vega?

We opt for Delta, partly because these are the easiest characters to work out in Cyrillic. Behind the check-in desk they’ve never heard of our reservation either. It must be a Russian hospitality custom. They talk us through the rooms and we ask what the difference is between standard and business.
“Better furniture,” the check-in girl deadpans like we’ve asked the stupidest question she’s ever heard.

The hotel itself is across the road from Izmaylovo Market, a sprawling spot tacked up with fiberglass onion domes. We think we’ll spend an hour there and end up spending half a day with its mix of souvenirs, pirate DVDs, clothes and very familiar looking handbags.