The string of black sedans parked outside the new Ritz-Carlton Moscow, tel: (7-495) 225 8888, is a hint of things to come. Standing guard along bustling Tverskaya Street, the late-model luxury fleet is a fitting first impression of the Russian capital's latest exercise in unbridled excess. Located steps from Red Square and within walking distance of the Kremlin, the Bolshoi Theater and Lenin's Tomb the 11-story, 334-room hotel has clearly been designed with oligarchs in mind. There's the $350 million price tag and the $1,000-per-night "starter" rooms, $400 whiskey shots and a $68,000 bottle of Château Pétrus; indeed with its penthouse oxygen bar and 21,500-sq.-ft. (2,000-sq-m) spa, it's as if the Ritz-Carlton's grotty, Soviet-era predecessor if not the entire Soviet Union had never even existed.
Opened in early July, the hotel offers the city's largest rooms and suites complete with Portuguese-marble baths and (mercifully) free wi-fi as well as a glass-domed indoor swimming pool and a lobby lounge with vodka sommelier. With a bulletproof Presidential Suite and ever-present security detail, the hotel is looking to lure Russia's new megarich, including the country's estimated 53 billionaires. But foreigners flush with cash can also live like locals thanks to an expertly connected "nightlife butler."
Both crowds will appreciate the menu at Jeroboam, the haute eatery overseen by three-star Austrian chef Heinz Winkler, whose eponymous Bavarian restaurant best known for its healthful "cuisine vitale" has been a foodie shrine for years. At Jeroboam, he offers a range of tasting menus allowing diners to be as daring or as demure as they like. The truly fearless may order the Ritz-Carlton's Tsar's Breakfast a debauch of Kobe beef, cheese-and-truffle omelette, foie gras au torchon with caramelized apple and brioche, beluga caviar with blintzes, sour cream and quail eggs, and Italian prosciutto and cheeses, all washed down with fresh juices and a bottle of Cristal champagne. There's a $700 price tag, but in the new Russia you might just call it a bargain.
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