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Exploring Moscow's Top Luxury Hotels

The hotel scene in Moscow has added some familiar names in luxury travel.

MOSCOW (TheStreet) -- When Mikhail Gorbachev announced his Perestroika reforms in the summer of 1987 he probably didn't envision his Red Square to be surrounded by western-owned hotels.

There's even more on the way with the

Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group

planting roots in 2011 and

Shangri-La Hotels

in 2013. There's also been development on the former

Rossiya Hotel

in Red Square, picking up the pieces after

Foster + Partners

relinquished design control over a planned development that will include four luxury hotels, residences and a 2,500-seat theater.

Moscow hasn't been immune to the global financial crisis. Its three-star properties have seen room rates decrease by 39%.

Many of Russia's top hotels are remodeled luxury palaces from the state-sponsored building booms of the early and mid-20th century. One of the city's most famous palaces is the

Hotel National

, now part of

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide


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. The Hotel National was built in 1903 under the rule of Nicholas II and was the home of foreign dignitaries and bourgeoisie elite before the 1917 revolution, when it became the residence of Vladimir Lenin. The property became a hotel again in the 1930s, when it added museum-quality paintings and artifacts from the palaces of former czars.

Today the Hotel National is one of Moscow's top business hotels. Its guest rooms were remodeled last year, updating the 19th century décor with 21st century technology such as Internet access and plasma TVs. Anyone with an aversion to gold should be prepared for a lot of Baroque pieces and red carpet, but with some of the best preserved Art Nouveau architecture you'll ever see. A second renovation has started that will focus on the hotel's spa operated by Guerlain, which is one of the more affordable hotel spas in Moscow, and its restaurant. Chef Andre Martin dazzles guests with an American-influenced menu served inside a dining room with panoramic views of the Kremlin and Red Square.

Those looking for a more playful address while in Moscow should book the

Spa Hotel Pokrovka

by Mamaison Hotels and Resorts. Not to be confused with U.K.-based Malmaison, this luxury boutique chain is managed by Eastern European

Orco Property Group

, which balances Russian luxury with whimsical western design. Inside the lobby, guests find stark white columns, couture drapery and ornate marble floors.

Looking for where Moscow locals like to put up their visiting international friends? Take a trip to the suburbs of Barvikha and Rublevka. There you'll find the

Barvikha Hotel & Spa

and one of the largest shopping malls you'll ever see.

Back in the city, the

Ritz-Carlton Moscow

offers luxury inside an 11-story building at the edge of Red Square. It's arguably one of the best sites in the Ritz-Carlton portfolio. Its entrance leads to a two-story lobby with marble floors and columns with gold detailing. Its Russian-minded restaurant Caviarterra offers local and Georgian cuisine while its Japanese restaurant Gingko by Seiki offers cuisine by chef Seiji Kusano.

Top-level rooms are often booked by the wealthy elite while their primary residences are being upgraded. The Ritz-Carlton Suite, which has hosted the Obamas, offers a living room with a grand piano.

-- Reported by Michael Martin of in Los Angeles.

Michael Martin is the managing editor of -- a luxury travel and lifestyle guide based in Los Angeles and London. His work has appeared in In Style, Blackbook, Elle, U.K.'s Red magazine, ITV and BBC.