On the 28th of January 2014 one of the most famous hotels in the world – Grand Hotel Europe – will celebrate its’ birthday. For more than a century this hotel, established in 1875, was a perfect embodiment of comfort and luxury. Although now it is known as one of the best 5-star hotels in Russia, the hotel knew the periods of decline and desertion.
The history of the hotel dates back to the first half of the 19th century when on the site of the future Grand Hotel Europe there were two hotels owned by Hugo Klee and Jean Coulon. The two gentlemen ran their businesses separately, and only after the retirement of Coulon the son of Klee joined the two establishments. At that time the hotel was given the name of ”Rossiya.” It was extremely popular among high officials and the literary Bohemia of St Petersburg. Ivan Turgenev, a Russian novelist, Carl Bryullov, an outstanding Russian artist, and Marius Petipa, a French choreographer, were among those who stayed there.
In 1872 a group of wealthy businessmen decided to buy the building of the hotel in order to break the mould of the world hotel history. Not only was the building enlarged by buying all neighboring shops and cafés, but it became one of the best-equipped hotels in the world. It surpassed all expectations having 260 rooms, all necessary facilities (a laundry, a shoe-repair shop, 14 carriages for hire, a group of interpreters, etc.), and even the central heating! The hotel opened in 1875 and received the name of Evropeyskaya. Shortly after its opening it became the place to stay for royalty. The King of Sweden Gustav V and Prince Hiroyashu Fushimi were warmly welcomed by the staff of the hotel.
The Great October revolution that brought an end to the Russian Empire worked fundamental changes in the life of the hotel. In 1920 it got the name “The House of the Soviet Clerks.” It was the first sign of future decay. For a short period it was used as an orphanage but then, in 1933, the decision was made to turn the hotel into the main accommodation for foreign tourists. Before World War II the hotel was frequented by such prominent figures as G.B. Shaw and Maxim Gorky. The communist poet Vladimir Mayakovskiy after the triumphal recitation of his poems at the Philharmonic Hall had dinner in the famous restaurant ”Krysha” situated on the top floor of the hotel.
When the Second World War broke out the hotel became a hospital for more than 1,000 patients getting their medical treatment there. Despite the fact that the average temperature in the rooms was sometimes – 8°C the doctors were able to perform major surgical operations. However, in 1942 the hospital was closed. Luckily, during the Siege of Leningrad the hotel was not completely destroyed and in 1949 restoration was started. When it was reopened the hotel represented a pale imitation of the previous establishment. The service was really poor with the staff being unfriendly and gloomy; the facilities did not correspond to what guests expected.
That’s why at the end of the 20th century the hotel was closed down for a complete restoration. The project was run by a Russian and two Swedish companies. Due to the experience of the foreign partners they managed to train a high-level staff and create a unique atmosphere of hospitality. Nowadays ”The Grand Hotel Europe” is highly estimated both, in Russia and abroad. Placido Domingo, Mstislav Rostropovich, and Jacques Chirac – the whole list of illustrious men and famous politicians who have stayed at the hotel can be endless! So if you want to share its’ history and taste for luxury, ”The Grand Hotel Europe” is ready to welcome you at anytime of the year.