Start the day in a suitably ornate atmosphere at Café Pushkin, the closest a 21st-century visitor can get to taking tea at the Winter Palace. With its 200-year-old harps, leather-bound books and golden grandfather clocks, the wood-panelled room is Tolstoy chic, right down to the drooping moustaches of the waiters who take your order for prostokvasha, a traditional probiotic milk drink, or caviar and blinis.
Take a pretty 15-minute taxi ride across the river to the biggest expanse of green space in the city, Gorky Park, which has been transformed from Soviet utilitarian to hipster chic in the past few years. Enter Make through the monumental triumphal arch supported by a forest of columns and wander around the tulip gardens and oldfashioned amusements parks within, or explore the trendy cafes and boutiques that line the park. If the weather is warm, rent a pedal boat and paddle around the lake.
Visit the Gorky Park Museum, which tells an upbeat tale of 20th-centuryRussia and the remarkable story of Betty Glan, the young woman from Kiev who turned Gorky Park into the cultural heart of Soviet Moscow. Most importantly, get up to the rooftop observation deck, below which Moscow is laid out like a carpet embroidered with the Moscow River, the Kremlin, Red Square and St Basil’s Cathedral.
All that walking is bound to have made you hungry, so stock up on snacks from the nearby Tsvetnoy Central Market, which has stalls selling freshly baked black bread, rich cheese and cherries from Georgia. Shopping here is a highf ashion affair, as this is where the Tatler crowd buys groceries—hence the scrum at the caviar stall. Want a seated lunch? Try Gorynych restaurant, which serves the best borscht in the city.
Russian society figures don’t get much glitzier than gallerist Dasha Zhukova, the ex-wife of billionaire Roman Abramovich and best friend of American writer Derek Blasberg and model Karlie Kloss. She founded the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in what was one of the Soviet era’s most popular restaurants, which Rem Koolhaas redesigned for its new purpose. Today, its rooftop bar and summer parties have become one of the main staples of Moscow nightlife, not to mention its ground-breaking exhibitions. Don’t miss Juergen Teller’s show in June.
A mixture between a hamman and a sauna, a Russian banya is part warming one’s freezing toes in hot, scented water and part vaguely terrifying exfoliation scrub. Sanduny is a quick walk from Garage
and is the most luxurious banya in the city, with 18th-century marble floors and ornate, arched golden ceilings. Ask your concierge to book you a private pool and sauna for two hours to relax like a tsar.
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