In 2022, the most famous Astoria Hotel in St. Petersburg celebrates 110 years since its opening – for more than a century the hotel has witnessed and participated in the historical events of the city and a favorite place for many generations of citizens and visitors, including its stars music, theater and cinema, prominent politicians and businessmen.
Few people know, but Astoria owes its appearance to a tube bomb. The future hotel building was built in the 1770s by a German merchant, John Friedrich Poggenpohl. He then managed to visit both the cholera hospital and the fire department. And in 1903 it was converted into “Bristol” furnished rooms, which prospered until the settlement of Arthur Henry Muir McCullon.
The real name of a student of the School of Physics and Mathematics who was expelled from Moscow University and a part-time member of the Battle Organization of the Socialist Revolutionary Party was Maximilian Ilyich Schweitzer, and in the Bristol hall he mounted a bomb to kill Big Brother. Alexandrovich. However, by negligence in 1905, the young man died during a powerful explosion that nearly destroyed the hotel. All that remained was the complete reconstruction of the building, which was done in 1911 by the German company Weiss & Freitag, which wanted to create a world-class hotel.
The cutest and most cultured
The architectural work of Astoria was commissioned by Swedish architect Johann Friedrich Lidval, according to whose plans dozens of public and residential buildings in the northern Art Nouveau style were erected. But building a hotel in St. Isaac’s Square was perhaps the most difficult and responsible part of an architect’s career. Lidval had to fit the 6-storey building into the harmonious ensemble of the square, the center of which was St. Isaac’s Cathedral. However, he succeeded and already on December 23, 1912, the solemn consecration of the Astoria Hotel took place, which gathered prominent merchants, prominent lawyers, representatives of the capital and foreign press.
Not only the exterior (lined with gray-pink granite of the best quality, luxurious pilasters, oval medals with garlands, window masks and decoration with stucco and embossed vases) caused admiration, but also the interior of the hotel – the lobby, the front marble , the banquet hall with the magnificent chandeliers and a restaurant, decorated in a modern style with decorative elements of classicism. In the inner middle courtyard was the Winter Garden with daylight from a high glass roof.
All 350 rooms were equipped with the latest technology – soundproofing from cork, electric light signaling for answering machines, automatic dust collection, central water heating, supply and ventilation, landline telephone. Some rooms also had a living room, vestibule and man room. On the ground floor, according to the Swiss terminology, the Swiss, information, reception, passport office, as well as translation and correspondence office in all languages, hair salon for women and men (“hairdressers”), tailor shop, library. , a “reading room” and 8 separate rooms.
The dishes for the hotel were made by the German porcelain factory of Joint Stock Company Br. Bauscher “, silver – the Parisian company” Christofl “, crystal factory – Lorraine crystal factory” S. Louis. ” “Astoria” was built and decorated by almost everyone. “Capital and Estate” magazine described the hotel as “one of the most beautiful and cultural corners of the capital, where it is pleasant to live, dine and even sit”.
The famous afternoon teas, founded by the first manager of the hotel, the Frenchman Louis Terrier, had a special attraction for the rich people of St. Petersburg. In January 1914, during his first visit to Russia, the English writer HG Wells chose Astoria as his place of residence. In 1915 Gregory Rasputin was living in the hotel.
Soviet authorities confiscated the hotel in the fall of 1915, turning it into a “military base.” The author Vladimir Nabokov’s father, Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov, witnessed the events of February 1917 while in Astoria. “A large crowd of soldiers and sailors passed under the windows of our house, heading towards Nevsky. “They walked randomly and incoherently, there were no officers,” wrote in his memoirs a well-known criminologist and leader of the Cadet Party.
In September 1918, the Military Hotel was renamed the “1st House of the St. Petersburg Soviet”. Here, coming from Moscow, where the government moved, lived Vladimir Lenin and other high-ranking Bolsheviks, many of whom were later oppressed in the case of the “Trotskyist nest in Astoria.” But there were also romantic meetings at the hotel. In 1924 at the table of the homonymous restaurant the poet OE. Mandelstam read poems to Olga Waxel. In 1932, Mikhail Bulgakov and Elena Nuremberg spent their honeymoon here. The author’s love for Astoria was expressed in her reference to The Master and Margarita.
From 1929, the hotel, which returned to its old name “Astoria”, was moved to the “Intourist”, which was created to serve foreign guests, but they did not stay long. Among the most famous are HG Wells, who came in 1934 to interview Joseph Stalin, and the rector of Canterbury’s most revered cathedral in England, the “red priest” Hewlett Johnson.
During the Great Patriotic War, the hotel housed the No. 108 Surgical Hospital. The hotel was not chosen at random to rescue the wounded and to house the starving writers, composers, front-line correspondents, and scientists. There were rumors that Adolf Hitler was going to arrange a banquet in Astoria on the occasion of the occupation of Leningrad, so he was not bombed.
After the war, for several years, the inhabitants of Leningrad lived here, left homeless. Each family was given a garden right in front of the hotel, in the square in front of St. Isaac’s Cathedral. Potato seedlings were caught by Alexander Vertinsky. He liked to live in Astoria at No. 208. This is where his life ended. On May 21, 1957, the artist died of a heart attack. In January 1967, Vladimir Vysotsky recorded a magnetic album in 201 hotel rooms.
“Astoria” also starred in movies. Andrei Mironov, who had stayed at the hotel since childhood (when his parents took him on tour), in 1973, without suspicion, made a dangerous trick on the hotel facade during the filming of “The Adventures of Astoria’s guests at various times were Marcello Mastroianni, Luciano Pavarotti, Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, George and Laura Bush, Vladimir Putin, Alain Delon, Gina Lollobrigida, Jack Nicholson, Ricky Martin, Madonna. Pierre Cardin opened his own boutique at the hotel, and Mick Jagger checked into a Brad Hotel and stayed in Presidential Suite No. 611 Stravinsky.
A new page in Astoria history began in the 1990s. Thanks to a renovation program in 1999, under the leadership of Rocco Forte Hotels, they restored the hotel’s historic interiors, completely replaced the equipment and technical communications, opened a library, a tea room and a Russian restaurant. By 2012, the 100th anniversary, a large-scale renovation of the entire hotel took place. And in 2022 a complex restoration of the facade of the building was completed.
The centerpiece now looks unusual – it is not a shade of chocolate, but a grayish-pink, which immediately began to cause questions. However, this is just a return to the roots. Now citizens and visitors have the opportunity to see Astoria in its original form, as it was 110 years ago. The main restaurant of the legendary hotel of the same name will be updated this spring.
Astoria meets spring with menu changes. Hot appetizers now include mushrooms cooked with sour cream under a cheese crust, grilled sea scallops with mashed potatoes, a creamy sauce with champagne and sturgeon caviar and fried foie gras with legumes, hibiscus and celery.
On the first floor of the Astoria. Breakfast is also served here.
Most recently, the chef was headed by Greek chef Nikolaos Alevras, who studied Russian delicacies and national recipes for six months, visited iconic restaurants and consulted the Astoria team to offer guests a sunny vision of traditional dishes. The menu includes a whole section of pasta – with duck leg config, beef and sage, wild mushrooms and black truffle and shrimp and chicken, served with buckwheat popcorn (special “Astoria”). They are prepared by hand in the restaurant kitchen.
And also – pasta with potatoes, smoked suluguni and brisket, a portion of delicious and varied cutlets and a wide variety of soups. The chef suggests paying special attention to the amber fish soup, the recipe of which he brought from the village of Terimberka.
The spring menu includes the guests’ favorite dishes – “Olivier” specialties with crab and avocado, marbled beef tartare with quail egg and sturgeon caviar, homemade jelly. Astoria will also delight fish lovers: Murmansk grilled fillet, plump kulebyaka with Sakhalin salmon, spinach, rice and mushrooms and white wine sauce with red caviar. And the specialty is sturgeon smoked in alder chips and garnished with black beluga lentils with beans, red onions and beurre blanc sauce. This is the favorite dish of the chef, who never ceases to admire the variety of delicacies offered by the Russian seas, rivers and lakes.
For the restaurant in the hotel bakery, special homemade bread without yeast is baked in organic yeast from five types of flour: wheat, wholemeal, oatmeal, rye and spell, with the addition of flax and sesame, soft, tasty and healthy. You can also order it and take it with you.
The restaurant’s dessert card from Astoria pastry shop, Yulia Ivanova, includes both iconic creations – such as Diana Vishneva and Faberge Spring \ Winter, as well as the classic Napoleon and Medovik with sour cream sorbet, Pavlova with tropical fruit and more. sweet masterpieces. And for tea and coffee, guests will be served homemade pastries from the Astoria chocolate factory. And that’s just another “tasty” reason to visit the legendary hotel with a century of history.
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