Diary of a Russian Wife

10/27/2007

Booking an Apartment in Moscow

What to consider as the start of a journey: a flight, or your first day in the city of destination?

Our trip to Moscow started with a pretty enjoyable flight. The plane was half-empty, and I was able to lay down across 3 seats and got some sleep.

But our first day in Moscow was just terrible.

Last month I had several failed attempts to find a hotel that would be (1) close to the center of Moscow, (2) had reasonable prices (under $150 per night), (3) had good reviews on the Internet and (4) was available from October 27th to November 3rd.

Instead, I've booked the "Jasper Suite", a 2 room apartment located on Novy Arbat, 22: http://www.allrussiahotels.com/apartment/moscow/jasper.html.

Well, now I know: if you want your trip to be surprise-free, go to a hotel.

Our plane has arrived about 1 hour early, and passport control and receiving luggage took less time than expected. Our check-in time was scheduled for 12:30 pm, but we arrived at the apartment building at 11 am. If we were in a hotel, we could leave our suitcases in a storage and go for a walk or do something. Here, we had to sit and wait. I called a manager and asked whether it is possible for a company's representative to come earlier to let us in, but received polite but firm answer that their representative will come by 12:30 as agreed.

At 12:30 their representative has arrived, but... she had the wrong key.

She apologized, made numerous calls, sent numerous SMS trying to reach someone from management. What a mess. Finally, she told us that in 30 minutes a cleaning lady will bring a spare key.

In an hour, at 1:30, another girl has come. She had a big bag of keys. It looked like she had keys from all apartments in Moscow... except our apartment. Yes, I am not kidding - she didn't have the key to our apartment. So, it started all over again - phone calls, SMS to management and apologies. In a meantime, the first lady left because she had other tourists to meet (good luck to them). The second girl said that she has to go too and that some other guy will bring us a key shortly. I said that I won't let her go until the damn apartment is open. She has put me on the phone with her manager, and the manager said that she will come herself, in 30 minutes.

When someone in Moscow tells you "30 minutes", multiply it by 2. In a hour, the manager has come. Surprisingly, she had the key! The key has fit into the whole, but didn't turn. The manager got on the phone and asked someone how to operate it. After 10 minutes of watching her fighting with the lock, the door was finally open.

So, here we are: extremely tired, jet-lagged and stressed out.

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