“This trip was amazing in every way. From the arrival to the departure, nothing was left out. Personalized attention and superb guides. Bottom line: Kensington Tours is definitely the best way to travel.”
From Rembrandt & Van Gogh to Delft, bicycles & beer, this art tour of Holland is a masterpiece.
St. Petersburg is a city defined by beautiful squares, ornate, onion-topped cathedrals and grandiose palaces. While not as big or bustling as the nation's cosmopolitan capital of Moscow, travelers can still receive a royal treatment - they need only book a room at the Taleon Imperial Hotel, a former palace dating back more than 250 years ago.
A portrait of the artist's retreat
One of the top sights in St. Petersburg is the Winter Palace, originally commissioned by Empress Elizabeth and eventually finished under the direction of Empress Catherine the Great. Yet, while that palace stands as an iconic landmark, another building served as the royal home before its completion. In 1755, Empress Elizabeth had a wooden residence constructed near the Moika River, which was later presented to the Chief of Police in St. Petersburg by Catherine. He had his own palace built on the site, which eventually became a symbol of Catherine's reign and an architectural treasure of the city, according to the Taleon Imperial Hotel.
Over the years it also became the stage for concerts, masquerades and other cultural goings-on in the city. The building passed hands and turned into a hotel, but continually grew in cultural notoriety, at one point hosting a cultural salon in its Grand Ballroom and at another boasting one of the most modish restaurants in town. It once served as the residence of the Eliseevs, a patron family of the arts, and later turned into a center for revolutionary artists in the 20th century. After years of war and neglect, the building was finally restored in the 1990s, eventually becoming the Taleon Imperial Hotel.
The hotel today
Guests can still bask in the elegant culture of this former palace. Multiple restaurants offer history and tradition in the form of authentic Russian cuisine, while the Griboedov and Atlantes bars provide a place to kick back from cocktail hour until the evening. Those looking for a less formal affair can always head to the Atrium Café.
The accommodations inside the hotel are grand and charming, but its location in St. Petersburg helps make it second to none. Nearby are some of the city's greatest landmarks, including the Winter Palace, the Hermitage Museum, St. Isaac's Cathedral and even the Church of Our Savior of the Spilled Blood - instantly recognizable by its colorful, oddly shaped domes.
The scent of rich pine forests lingers in the breeze as the 13th-century ruins of Turaida Castle are revealed before your eyes in the lush Gauja River valley in a medieval sanctuary untouched by the march of time.
The aroma of dark roasted Viennese coffee hangs thick in the air as you tread the cobblestone laneways and bask in the elegant architecture, atmospheric cafes and refined restaurants in one of the most beautiful cities in Eastern Europe.
(Gdansk, Warsaw, Krakow)
Enjoy Gdansk, Warsaw and Krakow; featuring four star hotels, private expert guided tours, private driver and vehicle and first class rail travel between cities.
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