Guarded by two marble lions at the entrance, this opulent hotel offers 5-star luxury within the walls of a 19th-century royal palace where the grandiose stylings of imperial Russia still prevail. Enjoying a premier location in St. Petersburg, the Lion Palace showcases elegance in design and decor matched by the unrivaled service that is expected from any Four Seasons location. Spacious rooms have only increased in luster over the decades, with high ceilings and French casement windows opening onto views of the Admiralty Building or St. Isaac’s Cathedral, two of St. Petersburg’s most iconic landmarks. Decor features pastel hues, elegant period furnishings and neoclassical art. King-size beds have dramatic headboards and are dressed in heavy fabrics with upholstered pillows and lofty down duvets. Double rooms also offer a two twin-bed option. Lavish marble bathrooms offer every amenity, even a built-in LCD screen and speakers in the bathroom mirror. Dining at the Lion Palace is as impressive as the accommodations, including Asian fusion delicacies at Sintoho Restaurant and authentic Italian cuisine from Chef Alessio Scarola’s kitchen at Percorso, which also features a wine list with more than 300 choices. The Tea Lounge serves contemporary Russian cuisine, champagne and caviar in an airy, glass-roofed space, and seasonal cocktails are served up next to a double-sided fireplace in the Xander Bar, named after Tsar Alexander I. If time permits, indulge in a session at the spa. Memorable and unique treatments range from a black caviar and grape extract facial to an amber oil body massage or a royal body scrub combining gold flecks and sugar.
Golden Eagle Luxury Train
The golden age of rail travel lives on aboard the Golden Eagle train. With all the accoutrements of a fine hotel, Golden Eagle offers guests an exclusive experience of first-class accommodations and service. An elegant lounge car, creative cuisine in the opulent dining car, well-appointed en suite cabins and personal cabin attendants comprise the lavish offerings on this once-in-a-lifetime rail journey. Spacious private cabins have large picture windows, underfloor heating, individual temperature control, double lower bed and single upper berth, a fully equipped bathroom with separate shower cubicle, hair dryer, bathrobes, slippers and toiletries, DVD player with LCD screen, and complimentary tea, coffee and mineral water in the cabin available at all times. The double bed folds up to create sofa seating at a table. The Bar Lounge Car is the social hub on board, the place to relax over a drink with fellow passengers and enjoy a slate of entertaining and enriching activities such as Russian language lessons and engaging lectures on local history and culture by expert presenters. The restaurant features Russian gastronomic specialties such as black sturgeon and Pacific red salmon caviar as well as a variety of fresh and healthy international cuisine. All meals are skillfully prepared by the executive chef and his onboard team, using the very best locally sourced ingredients wherever possible. After dinner, retire to the lounge car to sip a digestif while the resident pianist creates the background mood on a baby grand piano, playing until the last guests depart.
As an optional addition on our Aurora Quest adventure, guests may choose to spend one or two nights (at no extra charge) in one of the world's most unique accommodations: the beautifully sculpted Snowhotel Kirkenes. This real-life winter wonderland, located in a secluded spot in far-north Norway 5 miles outside the town of Kirkenes, is the first hotel in the world to be completely constructed of ice and snow. The resident reindeer herd and kennel of 180 huskies lend a feeling of traditional Arctic life to a stay here. While the temperature inside the 20 “ice rooms” is just below freezing (or else the walls would melt!), guests stay comfortable with the cotton sheet sleeping sack, thermal sleeping bag with hood, and balaclava that are provided. The ice bed platforms are insulated with mattresses, sheepskins and reindeer hides. Each enchanting room is sculpted in a unique design, with frozen wall art lending a touch of beauty and whimsy. Don't miss a drink in a frozen glass at the Ice Bar, then warm up in the traditional wooden sauna before tucking in...and greet the next morning with a generous buffet breakfast served in the heated restaurant. One thing is certain: this will be the coolest place you've ever stayed!
Thon Hotel Kirkenes
Location Kirkenes, Norway
Perched right on the quay in the heart of Kirkenes, the Thon Hotel offers unobstructed views of the fjord and frequent winter sightings of the aurora borealis. The central location provides easy access to everything this vibrant Arctic town has to offer. Bright, contemporary guest rooms feature streamlined modern decor with Nordic flair in a bold palette of lime green, lemon yellow and black. Beds are backdropped by fashionable floral prints on the walls and offer a comfortable night's sleep beneath a European-style duvet. White-tiled bathrooms have a shower and hair dryer, and other amenities include an LCD television, free Wi-Fi, desk, armchair, mini bar, and coffee/tea-making facilities. A fitness facility, flooded with natural light, offers a wide range of equipment available to guests at a small fee. Seasonal meals at Restaurant 69 Nord are served in a sleek, contemporary setting and feature many local and organic ingredients—the entire Thon hotel chain is committed to purchasing only products that can be traced back to the original growers. The hotel’s dedication to sustainability is recognized through its Eco-Lighthouse certification, the first sustainable building standard to be approved through the European Commission.
Wilderness Hotel Inari
Location Inari, Finland
Wilderness Hotel Inari, located in the heart of Finnish Lapland, offers a unique encounter with Sami culture and Arctic adventure—not to mention nothing but a glass roof between your bed and the northern lights! Located just outside the Sami village of Inari, this unique lodge is the optimal base for an immersion in pristine nature and Sami culture. We stay in glass-topped Aurora Cabins with an unobstructed view on the northern sky. The laser-heated glass roof over your bed ensures frost-free viewing of the stars and aurora no matter how cold it gets outside. Highlighting the hotel's commitment to the environment, Aurora Cabins are solar-powered and heated with biofuels. Cabins have warm wood interiors, two twin beds with cozy duvets and furry throws, an en suite bathroom with shower, a sofa, and a kettle in the room for making hot coffee and tea. Wi-Fi is available in the lobby and restaurant areas. Restaurant Hirvas serves up gourmet Lappish dishes such as salmon soup, alder-smoked reindeer roast and whitefish from Lake Inari. Huge picture windows feature panoramic views over Lake Inari, and occasionally diners have been known to forget about their meal as they abandon their tables to rush out to the lake's edge for an appearance of the northern lights. Even the sauna has a glass roof to ensure that no aurora-viewing opportunity is lost!
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