InterContinental, a missed opportunity for the international chain with new Moscow property

Much awaited and talked about, the InterContinental hotel chain returned to Moscow after a long period of absence, the new InterContinental Tverskaya also being the first five star international hotel to open in Moscow in the past 8 years, thus raising the expectations bar, especially for international travellers to Moscow.

From my arrival, I was pleased to discover a fresh, colourful and contemporary interior design, the lobby lounge, bar as well as the Club Lounge instilling a particular warm and cozy feel, thanks to the use of warm tone colours and soft, velvet type fabrics. Lighting fixtures, especially in the public areas are exceptional, most of them custom designed, blending contemporary elements with classic ones. The crystal chandelier, almost four meters high which adorns the atrium which leads to the SPA and the first floor which hosts the convention spaces is the definite architectural highlight.

Concierge features the latest IPAD service as well as a touch LED screen with images of the most important landmarks in Moscow. The SPA has been another beautiful surprise, flooded with impeccable white marble and crystal lighting. I did not have a treatment has the SPA was still in a soft opening phase so I could not comment on the service. The entire SPA is branded ELEMIS, with a huge Elemis retail display in the SPA lobby.

When it comes to rooms, I have to admit I was very disappointed. For an InterContinental standard, my room, the highest among room categories, was very small and so was the bathroom, which did feature a separate bathtub, but a very small walk in shower. Design in the rooms is pretty basic and one of the downturns throughout my stay was the soundproofing, which, unfortunately, could not keep away the noise from the very busy Tverskaya Boulevard, one of the busiest in central Moscow. Overall, to me, it felt more like a Crowne Plaza standard property, rather than an InterContinental.

The location of the InterContinental is very convenient, right on Tverskaya Boulevard, downtown Moscow, within walking distance from a metro station. However, unlike the description on the hotel’s website, the Kremlin is at least 20 to 25 minutes walking distance (not 10 minutes).

From a service point of view, the most disturbing aspect is the lack of any English language knowledge, including key staff such as Front Office, not to mention F&B staff. Both on my arrival and departure there was no doorman, except a military style dressed bodyguard, who would point at reception for any questions. The Club Lounge is inconveniently located on the same floor with the conference rooms – it actually felt that the Executive Lounge was initially supposed to be a ballroom itself and then converted into a lounge.

Given the standard of service and facilities, the hotel is highly overpriced and upgrade to Club Lounge completely useless. Another disfunction, which has been proving quite annoying during my stay, was the internet. Only the low speed (standard internet) was complimentary. Should one need to use the internet at a normal speed, would have to pay for an upgrade.

Overall, I find that the InterContinental providing an unfulfilled promiss and unless the service issues are fixed in a short amount of time, it will be almost impossible for the hotel to maintain its five star ranking.

Oliver Petcu in Moscow