< RUSSIA | ST. PETERSBURG: Angleterre Hotel
Located in the heart of St Petersburg, adjacent to St Isaac’s Cathedral and close to the famous Hermitage Museum, the Angleterre Hotel is one of the city's
oldest hotels. History of the hotel goes back to 1840s, when Napoleon Bokin founded on this location the three-story hotel then known as Napoleon’s.
Between 1845 and 1846, architect Adrian Roben reconstructed the house, added the fourth floor and the hotel became the S. Poggenpol’s house with apartments for rent. In 1876, after the reconstruction, it reopened as a hotel Schmidt-Anglia, generally known as Anglia (England in Russian). It belonged to Teresa Schmidt.
In 1911, the hotel dropped the Schmidt from its name. In the official documents it was known as the “house of the heirs of Medem family” although it still belonged to the Schmidts. By 1917 there were 75 rooms in the hotel and in the city guides it was mentioned as one of the most “luxurious’.
From the newspapers and memoirs, it is possible to learn about the famous people who stayed in the Anglia hotel. In 1884, two rooms of the hotel were occupied by “Chigorinsky circle” – the first chess club in town founded by one of the best chess players in the world in the 19th century Mikhail Chigorin. Author Vasily Nemirovich-Danchenko always stayed in Angleterre when he visited Petersburg. Petersburg writer Alexandre Kuprin came a few times to meet him there.
One of the first celebrities who stayed in the hotel was George Kennan, American traveler and journalist, author of the famous “Siberia and the Exile System” (NY. 1891). In 1907, poet and writer Andrey Beliy visited the hotel. Since the end of August, 1917, until February, 1918, the hottest time in Russia’s history, American journalist John Reed stayed in the Angleterre together with wife Luise Bryant. Reed is the author of the book “Ten Days that Shook the World”. Those days also shook the hotel considerably as there was a lot of shooting inside the building during revolutionary days.
In 1917-1924 the English legation had their headquarters in the hotel. Until October, 1925, hotel was known as “International” and after that became Angleterre again.
For some reason, Angleterre Hotel attracted poets. Famous poet Osip Mandelstam rented a room in the hotel where he met the woman of his fancies, Olga Vaksel. Osip, unlike other guests, left a description of his room. One evening he waited his lover in “a most commonplace hotel room with burning fire-place and the table set for supper”. Another poet, Sergey Esenin, was found dead in December, 1925, in a 5th room of the Anglettere Hotel.
Angleterre’s history is full of legends. Rumor has it, for example, that Leo Trotsky stayed there. Or that famous singer Alexandre Vertinsky died in one of its rooms.
In 1926 Anleterre Hotel was included in the Hotel Trust together with four other remaining city’s hotels. In 1928, the hotel had 91 rooms and on the whole the building was ruining: there was no ventilation, no escalator, electrical bells did not work, only one telephone on the 2nd floor. Rooms were made in the restaurant with the help of partitions but then the administration thought better of it and granted the restaurant on lease.
In September, 1941, three months after the war began, a hospital in the Angleterre Hotel opened. The name “Angleterre” was banned from all official and unofficial correspondence and letters were to be forwarded to: Leningrad-1, Post Box 244. In the summer of 1942, the hospital was closed and until 1945 the building was uninhabited.
Reconstruction works started after the end of the war in 1945. On December 30, 1948, the hotel was named Leningradskaya (Leningradian) and a few years after in 1975 it become a part B of the Hotel Astoria. In 1959, repair works were going on in the “Leningradskaya” hotel with the goal to open 25 rooms more for 140 beds. In 1960 there were 152 rooms for 371 beds. There were rooms for one person, for two, for three and some even for 8-12 persons (“hostel-rooms”) and 3 Deluxe 2-room suites. In most of the rooms there were no bathrooms. No restaurant.
In 1963, adjacent building on Malaya Morskaya Street became part of the hotel and an intricate chain of corridors appeared. Some guests were completely lost in the building not being able to find their room.
The building was becoming a dangerous place to live in and it was closed in 1985. The only way to preserve it was to put it down completely and to build a new one with the same facade. On March 15, 1987, the Angleterre Hotel was pulled down to open on January 28, 1991 without any name – just as a part of Astoria, for 154 guests.
In 1997 Rocco Forte Hotels took over the Hotel Astoria and in 1999 the block “B” was reborn under its original, century-old name - Angleterre Hotel.
Today, the Angleterre is dedicated to offering comfort and refinement to its guests. From its charming and central location overlooking St Isaac’s Cathedral, it is perfectly placed for discovering the history and romance of the city.
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