I travel to Moscow on work every four or five months; we have a company, Srei Zao Leasing, based in the city. The first thing you will notice upon arriving in Moscow is the Soviet-era architecture: The grand buildings, and metro stations that are like monuments. You will notice wide roads, large open spaces and a lot of construction activity. And very soon you will also realise that most of the local population does not speak English.
The best way to get around in Moscow is by hiring a taxi. The city is also very well connected by the underground metro. It is always good to move around with a local person who can speak Russian, especially if you are moving around in the metro or by public transport.
My favourite hotel in Moscow is the Radisson Royale, on the banks of the Moskva River. The hotel building is one of the Seven Sisters buildings, which are all built in the Stalinist style of architecture. I like the hotel because it is centrally located, and has spacious rooms. It has a grand lobby and several restaurants that offer a wide choice of cuisines.
In case you do not have an office in Moscow, there are many places within the hotel itself where you could conduct business meetings.
The other good hotels in the city are Moscow Marriott Grand Hotel, Hotel Baltschug Kempinkski and the Ritz-Carlton.
I like Indian food, so my favourite restaurant is Talk of the Town. The service is excellent, the staff—largely Indian—is friendly. The food is very good, and matches that of any 5-star restaurant in India. For starters, you must surely try their pani puri. You can also visit the Maharaja Restaurant in the heart of the city for authentic Indian food. I also like the European food offered by the Novikov chain of restaurants at the Radisson.
Most of the hotels in Moscow have very well-equipped gyms and spas. After a busy day at work you can hit the gym or recharge yourself at the spas. You could also book an evening cruise on the Moskva, which takes you around the city; relax and enjoy the sumptuous food served on the deck.
If you have the time, I would recommend watching a performance of the Bolshoi Ballet. It’s a breath-taking experience.
Moscow has a very vibrant and interesting night life. It has a lot of restaurants serving a variety of cuisines, night clubs and pubs to suit every taste. You would be spoilt for choice. Whether you want to spend a quiet evening with your friends or business colleagues and enjoy your dinner at one of the many restaurants, or unwind at any of the night clubs, Moscow does not disappoint.
Of the many malls in Moscow, you must visit the GUM mall, opposite the Kremlin. It is one of the most beautiful malls I have ever been to. It houses premium international brands. If you are looking for Russian souvenirs, visit the Izmailovsky open market; it was where I bought a Matryoshka doll, the famous nested Russian wooden dolls. For street shopping, walk along the old Arbat Street. But be warned that Moscow is a very expensive city when it comes to shopping.
When in Moscow you must visit the Red Square and Saint Basil’s Cathedral, which is now a museum. You should also visit Victory Park, which combines an outdoor museum displaying tanks and other military vehicles used during World War II.
If you are on a longer business trip, travel to St Petersburg, an hour’s flight from Moscow; it is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
The best time to visit Moscow is during the summer. Winter temperatures could go as low as -20 to -25 degree Celsius.
Avoid using public transport after 10 pm, especially if you are alone; hire a taxi instead. Avoid walking alone. It is always better to have a local guide as a companion as most people do not speak English. Also, you must be aware of visa and registration regulations for tourists and business travelers.
Devendra Kumar Vyas is CEO, Srei BNP Paribas
(Coordinated by Jasodhara Banerjee)