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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

Wednesday, Oct. 22


English teachers can expect to receive a few useful pointers today from Evgeny Kalashnikov, the British Council regional teacher, during the EFL Seminar this afternoon hosted by the British Book Center. The topic of today’s seminar is “Grammar Practice.”


Young Petersburgers will get the chance to jumpstart their careers at “Professional Growth,” a job fair and forum featuring more than 40 major Russian and international companies vying for potential candidates for future positions. The forum not only is a chance to network but also to learn more about the modern business world and to understand what it takes to get the job you want.



Thursday, Oct. 23


AmCham’s Public Relations Committee meeting is scheduled to meet this morning at 9 a.m. in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center.


Sportsmen get their chance to stock up on all kinds of gear at the Hunting and Fishing 2014 exhibition starting today at Lenexpo. Everything from rods and reels to boats, motorcycles and equipment for underwater hunting will be on sale so that any avid outdoorsman can always be prepared.



Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at “Sounds of the Universe,” a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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