Blogger and discerning traveller Marie Olin of Luxury Travel Diva shares her unique, luxurious take on St Petersburg
Marie Olin sees the world through a luxury lens, travelling to far-flung destinations and sharing her experiences on her blog, Luxury Travel Diva. Her latest trip saw her take in the sights and delights of St Petersburg, with Corinthia as the perfect base. Read her story here…
St Petersburg in three words:
A beautiful city
Why did you choose St Petersburg for your trip?
I watched an episode of an English TV programme called Top Gear! The programme was filmed in St Petersburg and I was captivated by the beauty of the city. They filmed all over St Petersburg and it looked like such an awe-inspiring place to visit. Obviously I knew about the iconic buildings, museums and churches but I did not realise the city was so beautiful.
What’s your travel philosophy?
Don’t leave home unless it’s going to be a fabulous, luxurious and new experience. I wish I could enjoy travelling light and staying in a tent, but I cannot! A five star hotel or a beautiful villa is an absolute must for me and my husband. Also, the destination has to excite, educate and inspire otherwise why leave my beautiful home?
When did you first catch the travel bug?
I was very lucky as a child. My parents enjoyed travelling and staying in the best hotels around the world, I have just kept up the family tradition. I still get excited at the prospect of boarding a plane and arriving in a new country.
Was this your first time in St Petersburg?
This was my first visit but definitely not my last. This was my first trip to Russia and I have enjoyed discovering a new country and the lovely Russian people. There’s still so much more to see and experience, I’d love to attend a ballet next time.
What were your first impressions of the city? Did anything surprise you?
It was a coup de foudre; I was instantly spellbound by the sheer size and beauty of the city. I was surprised about how polite the drivers are, I didn’t hear a horn being blasted or a raised voice once! The people of St Petersburg are delightful. I also loved the canals and the grand houses that line them, I would like to return in summer and explore the city by boat, though it was nice visiting out of season and benefiting from the relatively empty museums.
What was the best part of your stay at Corinthia?
It’s impossible to choose one thing because it’s very much a sum of its parts; the staff are a delight, the suite was exquisite and the food delicious. I loved the attention to detail, the beautiful way the hotel is furnished and all the special little touches, I felt very at home and comfortable. The hotel is a peaceful oasis in the middle of an exciting city.
What lasting memories will you take away?
I will have memories of St Petersburg that last a lifetime. It was a privilege to enjoy the Winter Palace, Church of the Spilled Blood, and wonderful walks along Nevsky Prospect. Just take a step outside the hotel and one is immersed in St Petersburg.
Top tip for things to see?
I always believe walking is the best way to discover a city. However, my top tip would be to pack serious walking boots because the distances are enormous. Nevsky Prospect alone is several kilometres long.
I would not miss a trip to the Mariinsky Theatre, Hermitage Museum, Neva River, and the lovely churches. A more obscure highlight was the beautiful Singer Building. This is a couple of blocks away from the hotel and is an old-fashioned bookstore, stocked with tomes in all languages and with a delightful cafe upstairs.
What’s your essential checklist when exploring a new city?
I always look up my favourite blogger websites and read their experiences. I also watch videos on Youtube, and I use Google Maps to navigate. A good hotel concierge is always a great resource for information, reservations and tickets. The concierges at Corinthia are some of the best I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.
Is there anything you didn’t get to experience, that you’d do next time?
I would return to the Mariinsky Theatre to see a ballet. I enjoyed watch a piano recital but would definitely return for a ballet. I would also hire a private boat and explore the canals and river, and return to the Winter Palace and St Catherine’s Palace when the fountains are working in the summer.