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Knights of the Vine RUSSIA


Its Not Eloise at the Plaza Hotel
Linda Lippner

Photo by Tania Teschke

Did you know that Moscow, like any sophisticated city in the world, can provide hotel living with all the conveniences of a hotel and the somewhat glamorous feeling of striding through a stylish lobby, knowing that the maid came that day to change your linens, clean your bathroom, and tidy up your room? Why would a resident of Moscow consider a hotel? Have you seen the prices for rentals? Have you checked out the grim and grimy entrances and lobbies (what lobbies?) in most of the apartment buildings? Have you checked out the lighting and elevators in these buildings? What lighting? And THAT is the elevator I will be using to get to my triple-locked, padded-like-an-insane asylum apartment door? Well yes, when it works.

The thought of living in a triple star hotel seemed like a great alternative and I checked with a few friends who are doing just that living in Moscows version of the Plaza Hotel, living the life of the glamorous hotel resident for months and years. I investigated their domestic situation and, sadly, the staffs of these hotels are still operating under Soviet standards as far as tender loving care for their residents. Maid service yes! But I discovered the flip side of every day maid service they know all about your life. Your overnight visitors, your domestic crises, your personal habits. And the maid service can evolve into something between your kindly grandmother offering advise and opinions on your lifestyle, and your nagging mother asking why you leave your dirty dishes in the sink for weeks on end. Yes, most of these hotels provide miniscule kitchens, but definitely not dishwashing. One of my hotel friends noticed how the maid, every day, took out the dirty dishes, cleaned the sink and neatly put back the dirty dishes back into the cleaned sink. The standoff went on for weeks until my friend left town for an extended time and the maid broke down and washed the dishes once.

The hotels have the safety and glamour of a lobby; fun to sit in, and nice to walk through; the friendly hotel staff at the front desk and a doorman at the lobby entrance. Perhaps they are not like the Plaza where the doorman tips his hat in welcome and the desk clerk says hello and wishes you a good evening. Here in Moscow, the doorman more than likely will chase you into the lobby if you dont show your identification ID each and every time you enter, even if he has seen you every day for months. The front desk staff? What do they know about the lack of hot water in your room? Perhaps they know, but they are not telling. But they do tell you when your monthly room rate is going up with a smile on their face. Will this drive you out to look for an apartment? Not likely. Why pay the same huge amount of money and trade your mother/maid and security guard for a shabby apartment. At least the hotels elevator works!

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