Sunday, August 03, 2014

Retro Lodging in a Kommunalka

If you are nostalgic for the old days of the Soviet Union, or even if you are just curious about what life was like then, consider a stay in a kommunalka. These communal apartments where each family had a room or occasionally two rooms as living space but shared the kitchen and bath with other inhabitants of the apartment, were once normal housing for Russian families. Even Russian President Vladimir Putin grew up in one in St. Petersburg.

One of the private lodgings listed on the Website is in a kommunalka at the nrothern edge of Moscow, near Sheremeteyevo Airport. You can rent it for $25 or $30 per night, with discounts for long stays. You share the clean but rundown surroundings with your host and her daughter, and also with an older unrelated couple. You have your own room, so in some ways it is more private than a hostel.

If that seems a little too extreme, the site also lists a number of other reasonably-priced lodgings with private hosts known to the site owner, Paul Voytinsky, who unfortunately no longer lives in Moscow. As I mentioned in an earlier post, he moved late last year to take a job on the Kola Peninsula north of St. Petersburg.

A strange feature of communal apartment living, at least for us North Americans, is the fact that each family has its own toilet seat which must be carried to the toilet. Using someone else's seat is apparently very bad form. Disputes may also arise over use of the communal kitchen.

Many Soviet era films showed the bad feelings that could result from living in such close quarters, so if the kommunalka interests you I would suggest booking just for a day or two until you are sure this style of lodging is acceptable. I wonder whether there are other similar places for rent in other cities? If you have ever lived or stayed in a kommunalka, I would be interested in hearing about your experience.

For more information on visiting Russia at low cost, please download my ebook "Budget Travel Tips for Russia>"


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