Star Quality of Top-Ranking Russian Hotels

Surly housekeepers, worn furniture and unsolicited attention in the middle of the night may not surprise the guests of Moscow's Intourist Hotel. But they probably would be surprised to learn that they were staying in a four-star establishment.


The Intourist Hotel, which Fodor's guidebook calls "drab," is one of five Russian-owned hotels to receive a four-star rating from the Moscow city government. It shares the honors with the Ukraina, the Kosmos, the President and the Park Hotel Laguna.


"It's been decent. It's clean, and they change the sheets and towels every day," said Dan Murphy, an American tourist who has been paying $100 a night to stay at the Ukraina with his wife since Sunday. "Of course, prostitutes call every night, but other than that, it's been pleasant."


Fifty of the city's 300 Russian-owned hotels have been rated so far, and none received the top ranking of five stars.


"Our criteria are close to the traditional standards that are recognized around the world," said Sergei Krasnov of the city's foreign relations office, which has formed a commission of city, tourism and hotel officials to evaluate the capital's Russian-owned hotels. The criteria, which Krasnov called "very tough," are based on worldwide hotel chains and recommendations of the World Travel Organization, he said.


The inspectors, however, may have cut the hotels some slack.


For example, the Intourist Hotel was given the four-star rating even though its rooms did not have terry- cloth robes; a note on the commission's evaluation form ordered the hotel to acquire the necessary robes in order to maintain its ranking.


Only one of the five four-star hotels, the Kosmos, has the required swimming pool and none has the required tennis court, a shortcoming that Krasnov was unable to explain.


According to the commission, rooms in a four-star hotel should be equipped with a telephone with an international line, stationery, a radio, a television set and a refrigerator, among other amenities. At least half the rooms should have mini-bars, and all of them should have a full set of toiletries, a sewing kit and a terry-cloth bathrobe.


Guests should be able to order room service, buy tickets for airplanes, trains, theaters and concerts, rent cars, buy flowers and have the service of a wake-up call, a porter and a business center. Four-star hotels must also have certain facilities, including currency exchanges, tobacco and perfume shops and conference halls with simultaneous translation.Western hotel officials questioned whether the rankings were comparable to Western standards.


"I would say it's misleading," said Andrew Ivanyi, general manager of the Aerostar Hotel, which by Western standards is considered to be a four-star hotel. "If they are four-star hotels, then I would consider the Aerostar to be a five-star hotel."


Rankings can be helpful to travelers, particularly if they are based as much on standards of cleanliness, service and food production as on facilities, Ivanyi said.


"We all know some of the large properties in Moscow have a list of all kind of facilities, but that does not necessarily make them four- or five-star hotels," he said.


Mikhail Kitin, general director of the Ukraina Hotel Complex, which includes the Ukraina, the one-star Kievsky Hotel and the Dnieper Restaurant, said he was pleased with the hotel's rating.


Several improvements have recently been made at the 1,010-room hotel, he said. Each staff member has received retraining, electronic locks have been installed in most of the rooms and several floors of the hotel have been completely renovated, he said.


Despite his enthusiasm, Kitin did acknowledge that safety was an area that needed some work.


"I wouldn't say it happens often, but crime is a problem," Kitin said. "If it's all around us in the city, how can it not be in a hotel? It's an issue for all of Moscow's hotels."


Here is the list of Russian-owned hotels ranked so far:





HHHHH


no hotels





HHHH


President, Kosmos, Intourist, Ukraina, Park Hotel Laguna





HHH


Izmailovo, Salut, Mir, Zvezdny, Molodyozhnaya, Alfa,


Leningradskaya, Pallada, Budapesht, Varshava, Peking, Volga, Central Tourist House


HH


Turist, Mayak, Yaroslavskaya, Arena, Baikal, Art-hotel, Zarya, Vostok, Altai, Zolotoi, Kolos, Voskhod, Kuzminki, Uzhnaya Universitet, Orekhovo, Sayany, Vega





H


Amos, Vishnyaky, Mosfilm, Tsentralnaya, Russian Education Academy Hotel





No category


Neftyanik, Chertanovo, Tonus, Hotel of the Research Institute of Nature, Hotel of Moscow Radio Technology Institute