Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hotel Vladimir, Vladimir, Russia

A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to stay for two nights at the Hotel Vladimir in one of the major cities of Moscow's Golden Ring. The Golden Ring, which has long been on my list of top places to see, is a group of old Russian cities located mainly northeast of Moscow. Vladimir is a relatively large city for the area, and for the better part of two centuries in the Middle Ages it was the capital of Russia.

Today it boasts three world heritage sites according to UNESCO--two cathedrals and the Golden Gates of Vladimir, part of the ancient fortifications of the city. It is unfortunately also well known for its high security prison, which has housed noted inmates like Vassily Stalin, son of Joseph, and Anatoly Sharansky, a well-known dissident in Soviet times. The prison is still operating today and according to our guide has recently been the subject of a documentary film for National Geographic.

The Hotel Vladimir is probably the best place to stay in town. It is low rise and older, with wide corridors, nice hallway carpets and pleasant rooms. It has the sumptuous breakfast buffet that hotels in this part of the world seem to offer as a matter of course. Rooms are clean and pleasant, but if you visit in summer ask for a room facing toward the rear. The main street of the city is just outside, and you will want to open the window because there is no air conditioning.

I made a note that prices in Vladimir are lower than in Moscow, but that does not apply to this hotel. In fact, for dates in June I found a quote online of $82 for a single, $96 for a double, higher than rates at the Alpha Hotel in Moscow.

I suspect the note about lower prices referred to souvenirs, which are everywhere in these small towns and cities.

One of the difficulties with visiting the Golden Ring is that you really need to travel by car or tour bus to see some of the most interesting places, and if you do, Vladimir is a reasonably central base camp.


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