Seaside Splendor Fit for a Tsar: Sochi for the Grand Prix
Since the days of the Tsars the Russians know how to excel when it comes to luxury living. While Sochi may not boast the same splendor as Moscow or the colorful spires and golden domes of St Petersburg, she still captures the imagination.
Sitting elegantly on the azure waters of the Black Sea and with a sub-tropical summer warmth one wouldn’t normally link with the snow laden frontiers, Sochi is truly a sweet Russian town. In the winter the slopes are covered in a soft powder turning the sea resort into an après ski delight. Since the Olympics, Sochi has carved her name on the map and now with the Grand Prix shimmering on the horizon, it’s time to turn once more to the glitzy little town.
Where to Stay
A small yet well curated collection of five star resorts ensures that visitors to Sochi can sleep in decadent comfort. The Russian Riviera is rather dreamy with white sand beaches flanked by majestic mountains and wildflowers. For a sophisticated spring break the Swissotel Sochi Kamelia offers an impeccable presidential suite with its own reception foyer, private master bedroom, and floor to ceiling windows boasting beatific views across the calming Black Sea. The inhouse spa takes its inspiration from alpine living, boasting essential oils filtered from flowers grown on the grassy banks of the alps, along with ice fountains, whirlpool Jacuzzis and heated swimming pools.
The Grand Hotel Rodina is a glorious boutique hotel complete with crystal chandeliers, royal color schemes and a touch of Stalin’s neoclassicism. The elegant building is surrounded by lush tropical gardens splashed in cedar groves, maples and bright rhododendrons. Even the fabrics in the suites were made by artisans of the royal court of the Queen of the Netherlands. Prestigious guests can opt for an executive villa suite with romantic outdoor terrace, separate dressing room, and minimalist fresh white design. Having the healing sounds of the Black Sea right on your doorstep ensures plenty of rest on picturesque cabanas with a cocktail in hand.
Where to Dine
Hazy memories of the South of France are evoked when you book a table at the Brigantina Café. Sunlight streams through the large windows, music plays softly, and the head chef and owner hails all the way from Nice. Glitzy clientele fills the tables, including ex-presidents and celebrity faces. Raw oysters are paired perfectly with champagne or diamond edged vodka, and the best time to grab a table is when the sun is sinking like a golden globe.
Well-heeled lovers of fine Italian fare flock to graze on antipasti on the green lawns of La Terazza. High quality ingredients are imported from pretty Italian ports and fresh fish is plucked lovingly from the deep blue waters on the doorstep. The inside space is all swaths of linen and gleaming wooden floors. The summer menu boasts beautiful carpaccio, award winning handmade pastas, and dreamy risottos punctuated with black truffle and saffron.
Where to Play
Spring temperatures in Sochi vary wildly, still too cold for plunges in the salty black sea but also too warm to swish down the slopes. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a ball in the ritzy Russian town. Shopping for beluga vodkas and gold carat caviar should be at the top of your list when this far East. Ask your hotel concierge the best place to find the real deal without having to resort to illegal vendors.
Spa living is also second nature in these Russian billionaire playgrounds, where plummeting temperatures send patrons dashing to the nearest steam room. While the Grand Hotel and Spa Rodina certainly offers the best experience for those used to high European standards, the Sochi Breeze Spa offers something a little more culturally Russian. Take a lingering steam bath before being lightly beaten with birch sticks and doused in cold water. Afterwards, you will feel as though you could live a thousand years.