No. 36: Hôtel d’Europe
Grand Hôtel d’Europe
The Hotel d’Eurôpe (Evropeiskaia), on the corner of Nevsky and Mikhailovskaia Street, opened its doors in 1875. It replaced the older hotel owned by the G.K. Klee and J.K. Culon, where Marquis de Cuistine stayed during the reign of Nicholas I, writing about his Russian impressions in his now famous travelogue. The two adjacent buildings on Mikhailovskaia were remodeled by L.F. Fontana in what was then known as eclectic architectue. The hotel was under the management of the Swiss citizen Joseph Wolisberg from 1901 until the revolution. In 1905, the main restaurant was redone in the art nouveau style, with stained glass windows. The fancy roof restaurant called "Roof" (Krysha), designed by the prominent architect F.I. Lidval, opened in 1910. In a 1912 letter to his mother, Alexander Blok wrote that he had lunch there, comparing the panoramic view of Petersburg from there to Paris around Gare du Nord.
Among Russian luminaries who stayed at the luxurious hotel before the revolution were Tchaikovsky, Turgenev, and Maykovsky, and foreigners Debussy, Isadora Duncan, and Herbert Wells, the latter only after the revolution. Guidebooks for foreign travelers recommended it as a first class modern hotel. According to Baedecker (1913), rooms in it began at 3 rubles (with bath from 7 ½ and up), breakfast was 1 ruble, lunch 1 ¼, dinner 3. Employees spoke English and French. Click here to see photos of the renovated hotel.
The Chicago journalist William Eleroy Curtis, who visited Petersburg in 1881, wrote about the older hotel in The Land of the Nihilist: Russia, Its People, Its Palaces, Its Politics (1888), saying that its prices were the same as elsewhere in Europe and that it was the best hotel he had ever stayed in. The food in the restaurant was French, with excellent meats and fish, but little fresh vegetables, only peas, beans, cucumbers, and cabbage. He was particularly impressed by the bathroom in his room: “it was one of the most gorgeous affairs I ever saw. The walls were hung with crimson, and the windows were set in red glass, which imparted a ruddy glow to the body; while the tub was even more artistic, being cut out of a solid block of Marble, six feet by four, in oval shape with a swan in bronze sitting at either end, through whose bills the hot and cold water came.” The rooms were lit by many candles and the enormous white porcelain stove in “the shape of a tombstone,” as he writes, was not for the fainthearted.