Moscow Near Bottom in TripAdvisor Survey, Petersburg Nowhere to Be Seen
Published: May 30, 2014 (Issue # 1813)
Sanctions may come and go, but bad reviews last a lifetime. TripAdvisor, the second most popular travel website, has recently blasted Russia on several counts of being the world's worst travel destination in its yearly Cities Survey.
This is not an overt move by a TripAdvisor editorial team to manipulate a perspective in light of East-West tensions: Rather, this represents organic, grassroots condemnation from a pool of 54,000 TripAdvisor survey respondents from around the globe.
Of the 37 cities on the list, Moscow finished third to last in terms of "best overall experience." Across 16 categories, there were no placements in the top three of any category. There were nine instances of bottom three placement. Moscow, apparently, is the absolute worst for: helpful locals, taxi services and taxi drivers, value for money and hotels. The St. Petersburg Times recently spoke to a number of Moscow hospitality and tourism industry professionals to get their take on the city's abysmal showing.
"The rating is understandable: the city is expensive, and Russian is not the easiest language to pick up," said Natasha Kuznetsova, co-founder of Cabinet Lounge, a Moscow city center "club office," catering to the business travel community. "But if you are prepared to spend the money, the city has a lot to offer: Great restaurants and varied food, very professional service, plenty of English-speaking locals and amazing historical sites — those are within everyone's budget."
However, Kuznetsova conceded that "Moscow is certainly one of the cities that require preparation: you need to know where to go, where to stay and certainly book your cabs in advance." On the topic of cabs, Moscow still lives up to its received image as a black market hotspot: The Moscow Transport Authority estimates that there are still about 40,000 gypsy cabs operating in the city despite a 2011 law that made them illegal, meaning that there are about four gypsy cabs for each officially registered taxi.
"Russia is still a land of mystery and local knowledge is essential to get the best out of it," Katerina Cronstedt, managing director of Katerina Hotels, said. Ironically, her Katerina Park Hotel has found itself top-rated on TripAdvisor. Cronstedt expressed surprise at Moscow's second-to-last place showing for "family friendliness" in the TripAdvisor survey, remarking that "I know no other city that so frequently has dedicated and staffed play areas for kids in their restaurants."
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