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Moscow Near Bottom in TripAdvisor Survey, Petersburg Nowhere to Be Seen

Published: May 30, 2014 (Issue # 1813)



  • A tourist strikes a come-hither pose on Red Square. However, 54,000 survey respondents expressed unhappiness with high prices and poor service in the capital.
    Photo: Vladimir Filonov / SPT

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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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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