“I love every day of this business,” says Mattheos Georgiou, GM of the 205-key Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow. “Running a hotel combines psychology, versatility, and creativity, which I possibly get from my father, in the bespoke furniture business. I also give people a place to sleep, which is a very intimate task”.
Stay at Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow for its thoughtfulness. My first visit there was mid-winter. I was thoughtlessly wearing shiny-soled black boots and was about to slide, over ice, to Red Square. Immediately, a young managerial trainee rushed to help and escorted me to my destination – that ‘good samaritan’ was Mattheos (Aki) Georgiou, on his first secondment to this signature property. But as well as staff anticipation, there are many other reasons for choosing this as your Moscow base.
Take shopping. A just-launched exclusive partnership with the world-famous TSUM department store, only one block away, offers out-of-hours personalised retail. Go alone, or with a translator from the hotel, to a private VIP salon and, over a glass of bubbly, have your required brands, including Dior and Gucci, brought to you (all major credit cards work, of course). You are also a few minutes’ walk from the Bolshoi, and some of the world’s best live culture, and, similarly quick to get to, the Kremlin and several museums, with VIP perks.
What else is unique here? Unlike some Moscow counterparts, this is not an establishment that oozes the word Russia. Yes, you look out, from the terrace or your room, at Russia, or at least the very centre of Moscow, but inside the hotel you feel contemporary internationalism. Up on the 10th floor terrace you have, thanks to its expat chef, the only authentic Japanese food in any Moscow hotel – the cuisine is paired with Italian. The bar here has been accoladed by the US-based Architectural Digest.
I think I would reserve the tenth-floor 130-sqm Winter Garden Suite, designed by Hong Kong-based Tony Chi. You have an open-air terrace with stunning views over Neglinaya Street to Red Square. Interior layout includes a walk-through closet and large bathroom with orange-grey mottled marble from Zimbabwe, and a Toto washlet from Japan. Toiletries are French (Le Labo).
Time to work out? There is a 24/7 fitness centre, with Kinesis and Technogym bits: the indoor pool, part of Quantum Spa, opens from 5am through to midnight. I am always struck, when I am here, by management’s thoughtfulness – with a nine-hour time difference between Moscow and Sydney, it is nice to know you can try that treadmill if sleep is tricky the first night.
I am also continually amazed by the space of the public areas. The lobby is two floors high, with three glass-sided elevators. Look to your right to Café Ararat, a reminder that this hotel belongs to Armenian investors. Open all day, Café Ararat, which is in fact an extension of the lobby, so to speak, is a non-stop magnet for locally-based Armenians. There are Armenian dishes such as crawfish kebab and the ingredients are non-disputably Armenian, flown in from Erevan twice a week. As if to stress the point that this could be an honorary satellite of Armenia, door #923 on the ninth floor in fact opens to a working chapel. There are occasional services there. “Yes, we can do weddings,” says Mattheos Georgiou.
Aki is, by the way, only too aware of the importance of heritage. Last week he was back in his native Greece, drawing up plans to renovate a rural house, built in 1870 in classic Ottoman style, that his father had grown up in – it is now, with many hectares of fruitful olive groves, his to re-create. As he says again, designing something is one of his ongoing professional joys as, for him, the hotel life is far more than a “job”.
Lead image: Penthouse Suite Bathroom, Moscow View, Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow