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  • Baltschug Kempinski (Moscow; tel. 800/426-3135; www.kempinski-moscow.com): The hotel's views of St. Basil's Cathedral, Red Square, and the Kremlin are so breathtaking that TV networks set up here for their stand-ups. The brunch is fit for a czar, and the understated elegance of the rooms complements the facade's pastel ornamentation.
  • Le Royal Meridien National (Moscow; tel. 495/258-7000; www.national.ru): The National (a Royal Meridien hotel) has hosted legions of foreign and Russian dignitaries, including Vladimir Lenin before he moved into the Kremlin across the street. Now Russia's capitalist multimillionaires make it their home away from home.
  • Ritz-Carlton (Moscow; tel. 495/225-8888; www.ritzcarltonmoscow.ru): This eye-catching new addition to Moscow's top-end hotel scene has outdone its predecessors. Its Classicist style and high-tech glass architecture are the perfect symbols for the wealth of today's Moscow.
  • Grand Hotel Europe (St. Petersburg; tel. 812/329-6000; www.grandhoteleurope.com): This baroque confection in central St. Petersburg charmed Tchaikovsky and Bill Clinton, among other dignitaries. The winter garden stays lush even during St. Petersburg's dimmest months. The harpist and the plush furniture of the mezzanine cafe provide respite from a day of touring.
  • Corinthia Nevsky Palace (St. Petersburg; tel. 812/380-2001; www.corinthia.ru): Bursting with amenities too rare in Russia's second city, this thoroughly modern hotel is housed in a 19th-century landmark on central Nevsky Prospekt. Its heated garage, aromatherapy sessions, and sunbathing terrace compete with its in-house theatrical museum for customer raves.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.