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rebirth of a

rebirth of a


ta b l e o f

PART I – History Chapter I


PART II – History Reborn Chapter VII

Capital of Culture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9

A Sumptuous Sense of Arrival

Chapter II

Chapter VIII

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Creating a Landmark . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27

Luxurious Guest Rooms and Suites . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73

Chapter III

Chapter IX

The Story of the Lions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35

Dining at the Lion Palace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91

Chapter IV

Chapter X

The History of the Palace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39

The Luceo Spa

Chapter V

Chapter XI

Envisioning a New Future

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Chapter VI Restoring the Grandeur . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51

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Galas and Gatherings CONCLUSION


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elcome to Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace St. Petersburg. With a background spanning two centuries, the Lion Palace tells a rich and multifaceted tale that aligns with Russia’s own momentous history of change. Conceived by a prince and princess, designed by a celebrated architect, and immortalised by the country’s most famous poet, the Lion Palace has always been loved by the local people, who have been captivated daily by the two proud lions guarding its front doors. Today the refurbished Lion Palace is a symbol of Russia’s renaissance.




c a p i ta l o f

Reigning as Russia’s capital for two centuries, St. Petersburg was founded by Peter the Great in 1703 with the vision to create a city that would outshine all of Europe. Majestic and magical in its layout of parks and canals, the city is like a jewel box, dazzling with Imperial palaces in hues of yellow, blue and green. Catherine the Great, who ruled from 1762 until her death in 1796, envisioned St. Petersburg as a capital of culture and began assembling the artwork that would establish the Hermitage museum. Beautifully preserved yet dynamically alive with modern cultural landmarks, this glorious city is the setting for Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace St. Petersburg.




It was on the marshy banks of the Neva River that Peter

Often referred to as Russia’s cultural capital, St. Petersburg

the Great chose the location for a city that would become

includes 36 historic architectural complexes, including

one of the most exquisite ever constructed.

approximately 4,000 outstanding individual monuments of history and culture. There are several thousand cultural

He took Venice and Amsterdam as his inspiration,

institutions, including 221 museums, 2,000 libraries,

intending that St. Petersburg should be covered with a

nearly 100 theatres, 50 exhibition halls and galleries, and

network of canals instead of streets, and that people would

approximately 100 cultural clubs.

travel about in small vessels. Over 800 bridges were built and the city became known as “the Venice of the North.”

Along with the vast Hermitage and the Russian Museum, St. Petersburg offers many small and intriguing museums,

Stretching along the embankment of the Neva River, the

specialising in subjects such as Russian vodka, bread, toys,

historic centre features a series of city squares and parks:

cats, firefighting and railways, among other unique topics.

Palace Square, the Alexandrovsky Garden, Senate Square and St. Isaac’s Square – developed over a period spanning

Several museums are devoted to the city’s illustrious

many years, yet miraculously retaining a consistent

artistic figures, including Fyodor Dostoevsky, Vladimir

harmony and beauty.

Nabokov, Alexander Pushkin and Pyotr Tchaikovsky. The entire city radiates a sense of historic depth,

From 1712 to 1918, St. Petersburg was the capital of

creativity and inspiration.

the Russian empire and the home base of the Russian tsars. The city’s name was changed several times in the

In the historic centre of St. Petersburg, and in the

20th century – from St. Petersburg, to Petrograd in 1914,

surrounding towns with their expansive palaces and

Leningrad in 1924, and back to St. Petersburg in 1991.

parks, visitors can experience the glorious past and vibrant cultural presence of this legendary city.

All of the buildings created in the 18th and 19th centuries have survived virtually intact. This includes a collection of approximately 18,000 structures. No wonder the historic centre of St. Petersburg and its suburban palacepark complexes have been included in UNESCO’s World Heritage list.


PALACE SQUARE (far left) The majestic setting for the Winter Palace and a favourite place for strolling, St. Petersburg’s main city square was the location of the October Revolution of 1917. The square’s focal point is the Alexander Column, designed by Auguste de Montferrand to honour Russia’s victory in the war with Napoleon in 1812. WINTER PALACE AND HERMITAGE The official residence of Russia’s monarchs from 1732 to 1917, this huge complex is now occupied by the Hermitage, one of the world’s largest museums. The vast collection was started by Catherine the Great in 1764. A visitor spending one minute at each exhibit would require eight years and over 20 kilometres of walking.

THE RUSSIAN MUSEUM (far left) Dedicated exclusively to Russian art, this impressive museum was established in 1895 by a decree from Tsar Nicholas II. A unique depository of artistic treasures, the collection covers all the historical periods and trends in Russian art over a thousand years – from the 10th century to today. CHURCH OF THE SAVIOUR ON SPILLED BLOOD Built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated in 1881, this onion-domed cathedral was completed in 1907. The walls and ceilings are covered in intricately detailed mosaics. Amid such rich decoration, the simple cobblestones on which the tsar’s blood was spilled provide a striking contrast.

ST. ISAAC’S CATHEDRAL St. Petersburg’s main cathedral was named in honour of St. Isaac the Dalmatian, the patron saint of Peter the Great, founder of the city. Completed in 1858 and accommodating up to 13,000 people, the church was conceived by Auguste de Montferrand, the same architect who designed the Lion Palace, located immediately next door.

THE ADMIRALTY Headquarters of the Russian Navy, the Admiralty building was completed in 1823. Its gilded spire, topped by a golden weather vane in the shape of a sailing warship, is one of St. Petersburg’s most important symbols. The adjoining Alexandrovsky Garden enhances the view from the Lion Palace, located directly across the street. MARIINSKY THEATRE (far right) Opened in 1860, St. Petersburg’s historic home of opera, ballet and orchestral music has seen the premieres of masterpieces by Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky and RimskyKorsakov. Seating up to 1,625 people, the theatre is named after Empress Maria Alexandrovna, wife of Tsar Alexander II, though through most of the Soviet era, it was known as the Kirov Theatre.

CATHERINE PALACE Just outside St. Petersburg, the summer residence of the Russian tsars was conceived by Tsarina Catherine I in 1717. Among the lavish interiors, the highlight is the Amber Room, featuring walls of amber backed by gold leaf and mirrors. The room was looted during World War II and restored in 2003.

PETERHOF PALACE AND GARDENS Sometimes referred to as the Russian Versailles, thanks to its magnificent gardens, this summer palace was built for Peter the Great in 1723 in the suburbs of St. Petersburg on the Gulf of Finland. Lavishly landscaped, the extensive parkland features a collection of delightful fountains and sculptures.

MODERN ST. PETERSBURG Today St. Petersburg is known as the world’s largest city

Infrastructure and transportation networks are also

at such a northern latitude, featuring a population of over

moving forward ambitiously with expansion plans for the

five million people.

underground metro system and the international airport. The new airport is also expected to increase the total

The city is alive with positive energy, focused on progressive

number of tourists.

growth. St. Petersburg’s economy is fuelled by industry and tourism, drawing approximately five million visitors

Important sports events are filling the calendar. The city’s

each year. Winter sparkles with Dr. Zhivago romance –

historic landmarks are being revitalised and enhanced with

offering horse-drawn sleigh rides and bountiful opera and

new beacons of culture, including the contemporary art

ballet. Summer brings the White Nights when the sun

wing of the Hermitage museum and the contemporary

barely dips below the horizon and the city buzzes with

Mariinsky II theatre.

cultural activity.

With so many positive developments, St. Petersburg is

Significant international investments are setting St. Petersburg

experiencing a dramatic rebirth, as the city continues to

on an exciting path to the future. With plans for new buildings

realise the grandest dreams of Peter the Great.

and soaring skyscrapers, major business headquarters and government institutions are locating in St. Petersburg.

MARIINSKY II Just across the canal from the original Mariinsky Theatre, the contemporary Mariinsky II opened in 2013, seating up to 2,000 people and offering ideal acoustic conditions. The theatre was designed by acclaimed Canadian architect Jack Diamond – reflecting modern St. Petersburg’s new international spirit.


ERARTA MUSEUM Russia’s largest private museum of contemporary art, Erarta presents a collection of more than 2,300 works by more than 170 artists from over 20 regions. Based in St. Petersburg, the Erarta project promotes Russian contemporary art both domestically and on the international stage. HERMITAGE MODERN COLLECTION (right) In celebration of the 250th anniversary of the Hermitage in 2014, the curved General Staff Building on Palace Square, originally completed in 1830, has been restored and modernised to house the museum’s collection of modern and contemporary art – positioning St. Petersburg at the cutting edge of culture.




C o m pl e t e d i n 1 8 2 0 , t h e b u i ld i ng t h at w o uld e v e n t u a lly become Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace St. Petersburg is one of the few surviving masterpieces of architect Auguste de Montferrand, best known for such St. Petersburg landmarks as St. Isaac’s Cathedral and the Alexander Column in Palace Squ a r e . C o m m i s s i o n e d b y P r i nc e a nd P r i nc e s s L o b a n o vRostovsky, the Lion Palace overlooks the Neva River, just two blocks from the Winter Palace. The building has seen a rich and diverse history – reflecting the transformations i n Ru s s i a o v e r t w o d r a m at i c c e n t u r i e s .




The dream of the Lion Palace began with a noble couple

According to legend, Tsar Alexander I – who ruled

highly prominent in the fashionable St. Petersburg society

Russia from 1801 to 1825 – played an important role in

of the early 19th century.

the creation of the Lion Palace. On one occasion, when the tsar and the prince were riding in a carriage along

Princess Cleopatra Ilyinichna Bezborodko belonged to

Admiralteysky Prospekt, the tsar expressed his displeasure

one of Russia’s wealthiest families. The niece of Duke

at the unattractive appearance of St. Isaac’s Square, where

Bezborodko – Chancellor of the Russian Empire, a brilliant

plans were already underway for the construction of

politician and a prominent Mason – she was known at the

St. Isaac’s Cathedral.

time as the richest bride in Russia.

As the story goes, Prince Alexander took note of the

Prince Alexander Yakovlevich Lobanov-Rostovsky was

comment, but kept his silence, and a few years later

also from an old and noble Russian family. His family tree

showed the tsar the enormous palace he had built at his

included military leaders and statesmen. Prince Alexander

own expense to demonstrate his allegiance. Of course, it

was no exception: he was a colonel and subsequently

would have been impossible to build in the centre of the

a major-general, taking part in the campaign against

capital without the consent of the tsar, but this desire to

Napoleon, for which he was awarded a medal and a gold

make a favourable impression on the leader fit naturally

sword for bravery. In addition to being a diplomat, writer

with the mentality of the time.

and art collector, he was a close friend and aide-de-camp of Tsar Alexander I.

Historical records show that, on August 10, 1817, the lot on St. Isaac’s Square, measuring over 5,400 square metres, was granted to the prince and princess. Their plan was to build a palace apartment house for the city’s elite – a business venture befitting a 19th-century noble couple.


Princess Cleopatra Ilyinichna Bezborodko

Prince Alexander Yakovlevich Lobanov-Rostovsky



With the design for the neighbouring St. Isaac’s Cathedral

Montferrand’s success with the design of St. Isaac’s Cathedral

already receiving praise – even before its construction had

and the new palace for Prince and Princess Lobanov-

begun – the prince and princess hired the same architect,

Rostovsky reinforced his authority at court and made him

Auguste de Montferrand, to create for them a building

extremely popular in aristocratic circles. Over the course

that would enhance the square.

of his career, he received numerous commissions to design private mansions, benefiting from a time when the whole

Born in 1786 in Chaillot, France, Montferrand pursued

city was undergoing a massive boom.

architecture and – with limited opportunities in his homeland, after the defeat of Napoleon – he began seeking

However, Montferrand’s main life’s work was St. Isaac’s

opportunities overseas. In 1816, he landed in St. Petersburg

Cathedral, whose construction took almost 40 years,

and presented an album of proposed architectural plans

continuing from 1819 to 1858 and spanning the reigns of

to Tsar Alexander I. Almost immediately, Montferrand

three emperors.

was named the court architect and became responsible

Legend says that the architect expected to die after he

for the city’s most important assignments, including

completed the building and that was the reason for the

St. Isaac’s Cathedral.

lengthy construction. As fate would have it, Montferrand did die just one month after the cathedral was consecrated.




The land making up St. Isaac’s Square was originally

The Book of Records for Plans and Façades, kept by the

shaped as an irregular trapezoid, and Montferrand

Committee for City Buildings, recorded on April 22, 1818

restructured the space to create a more formal rectangle to

that Prince Alexander “wishes to build a stone house based

frame St. Isaac’s Cathedral. A triangular plot of land was

on the attached drawings.” Princess Cleopatra herself

thus cut from the square’s northeast corner, necessitating a

called the contractors, negotiated prices, monitored their

building shaped like a right-angled triangle.

work and paid the bills.

Monteferrand’s architectural design for the Lion Palace is

The preliminary tasks of digging the trenches and driving in

a fine example of High Classicism. At the time, the Russian

piles began in 1818. Stability was important in the swampy

people were euphoric about the defeat of Napoleon in the

soil near the Neva River, and the rubble-slab foundations

Patriotic War of 1812. The Russian Empire style began

– laid at a depth of 2.85 metres – still support the massive

with this victory and features a proud, romantic flair.

structure today.

The façades facing Admiralteysky Prospekt and St. Isaac’s

Amazingly, the enormous mansion, which occupies an

Cathedral are stately and classical, featuring white

entire block, took only about one year to build.

Corinthian columns against Imperial-yellow walls,

In 1819, as decorative work was being completed inside

crowned by a blue-green rooftop. The front arcade, guarded

– and as construction was beginning on the neighbouring

by two marble lions, protrudes far enough to allow carriages

St. Isaac’s Cathedral – local newspapers began to advertise

to ride up to the front doorway along a wide ramp.

the leasing of apartments, which would be ready for the

Viewed from above, the building resembles a grand

arrival of the first residents in 1820.

piano. Three courtyards provide light and air into the interior rooms.




The Lions

Two white-marble lions, perched on granite pedestals, guard the main entrance of the palace, facing Admiralteysky Prospekt. Immediately upon the lions’ appearance, the people of St. Petersburg began to call the new building the House with Lions, or the Lion Palace, and the name continues to this day. Throughout history, sculptures of lions have been associated with strength and nobility, reflecting the status of the building’s owners. Prince and Princess Lobanov-Rostovsky, along with architect Auguste de Montferrand, clearly intended their new palace apartment house to make a dramatic impact on St. Petersburg … and they succeeded.


CARVED BY PAOLO TRISCORNI Symbols of strength, the two lions at the Lion Palace are

Although Yevgeny has lost everyone he loved, he does

both male, both with full manes. One lion holds his paw

not perish, he simply loses his mind. In his delirium,

on a round ball, keeping it still, while the other is playing

he approaches a bronze statue of Peter the Great, sitting

with a ball, pushing it from the side. Traditionally the

atop a horse in Senate Square at the edge of the Neva

ball symbolizes the earth, showing the lions’ power to

River, and reproaches him for locating the city in such a

control the world.

god-forsaken place. And it seems to him that the iconic statue comes to life and chases after him. It was from the

The two lions have inscriptions on their granite pedestals

title of Pushkin’s poem that the statue became known

that indicate they were carved by Paolo Triscorni, an

thereafter as “The Bronze Horseman.”

Italian sculptor who worked extensively in Russia. As time has passed, the inscriptions have almost


disappeared, and today it is possible only to see the first

An interesting detail is that Pushkin was not personally

letters of the sculptor’s name: “TRI.” Most probably, the

in St. Petersburg at the time of the flood, but was told the

full inscriptions read: “TRISCORNI FECIT CARRARA

story of a friend who really did save himself by sitting on

1810” – meaning that the sculptures were produced in

one of the marble lions at the Lion Palace. The great poet

1810 in his hometown of Carrara, Italy, before being

turned this simple anecdote into the tragic and frightening

transported to St. Petersburg for installation at the palace.

tale of a little man, the savagery of the elements and the strength of the state, as personified by the figure of


Peter the Great.

The Lion Palace has been featured in many paintings over

Shortly after the poem’s publication, people passing by the

the decades, but it is most famous for its mention in a poem

Lion Palace began to quote the lines from “The Bronze

by Alexander Pushkin, considered Russia’s greatest poet.

Horseman,” and many city residents continue to remember

His narrative poem, “The Bronze Horseman,” was written

these phrases from their school days.

in 1833, but concerned events that occurred on November 7,

Through nearly two centuries of turbulent history, the two

1824, during one of the most terrible floods in

lions have stood guard, and the genius of Alexander Pushkin

St. Petersburg history. One of the poem’s characters – the

helped position their palace as one of St. Petersburg’s most

poor bureaucratic official, Yevgeny – takes refuge from the

beloved buildings.

turbulent waves by climbing up on the back of a marble lion set on a platform, or perron, in front of what is clearly the Lion Palace.


New-built, high up in Peter’s Square A corner mansion then ascended; And where its lofty perron ended Two sentry lions stood at guard like living things, And kept their ward with paw uplifted.



The Palace

Immediately upon opening its doors in 1820, the Lion Palace was a great success. Prince and Princess Lobanov-Rostovsky had

conceived the building as an apartment house for the city’s elite – a business venture befitting a noble couple of the 19th century. The pair did not reside in the palace themselves. The

princess handled the accounts and management of leases, w h i l e t h e p r i nc e pu r s u e d h i s i n t e r e s t s a s a c o ll e c t o r a nd historian. Alas, the history of the Lion Palace did not unfold as the couple could have expected.


AN ELITE RESIDENCE AND SHOWPLACE The Lion Palace was initially a very fashionable address

In 1824, the Ministry of War of the Russian Empire rented

among St. Petersburg’s privileged class, and the building

several apartments. In addition, the commission charged

quickly became one of the capital’s key cultural centres.

with the construction of the neighbouring St. Isaac’s Cathedral rented space. The architect, Montferrand, used

Montferrand’s magnificent lobby was witness to many

a corner office facing the square for his drawing studio and

noble guests who came to visit friends and simply to “see

to display structural models of the cathedral.

and be seen” in such a prestigious place. Residents would host balls and masquerades in their lavishly appointed


apartments – entertaining guests with private literary

Despite the initial success of their apartment house, the

readings, house concerts and dance performances.

prince and princess fell into difficulty. Their only daughter

Events and happenings at the building were regularly

died as a baby. Prince Alexander was known to gamble

featured in the society columns of popular magazines. It

and waste money on extravagant expenses, and Princess

was noted that Monsieur Saint-Maur from Paris offered

Cleopatra was not efficient at managing their business.

paid readings of French plays and poetry by Molière,

After a few years, their entire fortune had been squandered.

Racine and Voltaire, while the Hamburg painter, Herr

The couple divorced and, according to some stories, the

Suhr, dazzled residents with views of his Cosmorama

princess took up residence in the Lion Palace on her own.

pictures, showing realistic perspectives of cities such as

To raise money, the prince decided to raffle off the building.

Berlin, Rome and Vienna.

He issued a million lottery tickets, with the winner

In addition to the residential apartments, there were

receiving the Lion Palace as the grand prize. However,

a number of businesses located in the building. In the

Tsar Nicholas I banned this commercial arrangement

summer of 1821, two Italian brothers named Leoncini

and suggested the prince sell the building to the state. In

opened a store on the first floor selling art objects such as

fact, it was a fairly common occurrence for government

lamps and alabaster vases.

institutions to take over the properties of financially

Various units on the lower floors were rented to a printing

troubled noblemen.

shop, a glove shop, a shoemaker and a beer cellar. There

On June 23, 1828, the building was sold to the state treasury

were also storage rooms, barns and stables.

for approximately one million rubles in order to house the Ministry of War, which was already a partial tenant.


THE FATE OF THE PRINCE AND PRINCESS Princess Cleopatra was so deeply in debt that, by the late

During the renovations, Montferrand’s delicately detailed

1820s, she was forced to declare bankruptcy. She owed

interiors suffered. Only the entrance hall and staircase

a total of eight million rubles, an enormous sum for that

remained as reminders of the palace’s original luxury.

time. The princess died in 1840 and her body was buried in

Random changes would continue during the ministry’s

the Lazarev Cemetery in the Alexander Nevsky Monastery

nearly 80 years of occupancy.

in St. Petersburg.

Original corridors were closed and rooms were either

Prince Alexander fled to Paris and became part of King

divided or joined, their walls broken open to connect

Charles X’s circle of close friends, attending sumptuous

several different apartments. Elaborate murals were

balls with the elite of the French aristocracy. The prince

covered with white paint, plaster cornices were stripped,

was interested in history and published scholarly articles

and fireplaces and stoves were removed.

about the life of Queen Anne, a Russian princess, as well

At some point after 1862, the exterior’s white columns

as Mary Queen of Scots.

were painted brown – inspired by the brown granite of

When he returned to St. Petersburg in the late 1830s, he

St. Isaac’s Cathedral – apparently to distinguish the palace

agreed to leave his huge library and collection of portraits

from all the other white and yellow buildings in the city.

to the Hermitage in his will. For this, he was granted a

The offices of the Ministry of War took over almost

pension for life, which he desperately needed since his

two-thirds of the palace, incorporating approximately

finances were still precarious.

114 rooms. However, there were also about 65 small

Prince Alexander lived to a very old age, busying himself

apartments located in back corners and attics – many

with historical research and translation projects. He died

occupied by the ministry’s employees, who were living in

in 1866 and was also buried in the Lazarev Cemetery, but

cramped and inhumane conditions.

a great distance away from Princess Cleopatra.

A report in 1900 condemned the combination of offices and housing, citing the enormous overcrowding of adults


and young children in such a confined space. Walls were

When the Ministry of War gained control of the Lion

almost entirely covered with clothing and household

Palace in 1828, the needs of the organisation required a

goods. The building was considered a serious fire hazard,

radical internal restructuring of the building.

but there was no money available for improvements.


CHANGES DURING THE SOVIET ERA After the Soviet revolution of 1917, the Lion Palace entered

In 1946, a state design institute in charge of industrial

a long period of drastic change and multiple uses, marching

buildings and complexes moved into the Lion Palace.

in step with the life of the country.

The institute once again changed the layout. Restoration was scheduled to begin in 1949, but the project was

Initially the building was renovated to house a military

delayed owing to expense.

and political academy, including a student dormitory, as well as an aeronautical museum.

The Lion Palace was included in the list of historical and cultural monuments of national importance in 1960, and

In the 1930s and 1940s, the Lion Palace held a combination

minor restoration work was carried out, including the

of small residential apartments, hostels, an institute of

repair of the lions.

Oriental studies, a radio workshop, blacksmith shop and storage rooms.

But for the most part, the historic palace continued to fall into a state of decay. For more than 40 years, there

During World War II, the Lion Palace was the location of

were no significant repairs and the building was never

the St. Petersburg Lyceum 239, a high school which was

fully heated, resulting in serious damage to interior floors.

one of the few to continue operation during the 900-day

The building was in danger of total collapse when finally,

German siege, from September 8, 1941, to January 27,

in 2002, fortunes turned.

1944. Within the frozen and starving city, teachers and students carried on as they could, while the building repeatedly suffered shelling and attacks by enemy aircraft. During the siege, the cellar that once housed a printing shop was used as a bomb shelter. Local residents built wooden shields to protect the famous white marble lions. However, in the last days of 1941, a projectile hit the front arcade. The columns were riddled with shrapnel and the tails of the lions were damaged. Fortunately, one of the school staff collected the pieces of marble for safekeeping.




New Future In 2002, after nearly two centuries of dramatic change, the Lion Palace was transferred to the control of the Department

of Presidential Affairs of the Russian Federation. A plan was

conceived to restore and refurbish this architectural monument as










leased to Tristar Investment Holdings. Envisioning a new future, Tristar assembled an international team of contractors

and consultants, and in 2008, signed Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts to serve as the hotel operator. Architects, heritage experts and interior designers worked together with the intention to create a St. Petersburg hotel of the highest calibre – appropriate to welcome world leaders and royalty in an atmosphere of total luxury and service.




The refurbishment of the Lion Palace was viewed as a

Established in Toronto in 1960, Four Seasons Hotels and

symbol of Russia’s 21st-century renaissance.

Resorts is renowned for offering guests highly personalised 24-hour service in authentic, elegant surroundings of the

The property is owned by the Department of Presidential

highest quality – providing a home away from home for

Affairs of the Russian Federation. Restoration work was

those who know and appreciate the best.

carried out by Tristar Investment Holdings on the basis of a 49-year lease contract. The lease contract included

As the world’s leading operator of luxury hotels,

strict investment obligations and clear responsibilities for

Four Seasons currently manages over 90 properties in

delivering the project on time.

nearly 40 countries. Many Four Seasons hotels are located within historic buildings that have been repurposed

VIY Management, an independent private equity firm with

with sensitivity and creativity, as evidenced in Budapest,

projects across Greater Europe, acted as the financial

Florence, Geneva, Istanbul, Milan and Prague. The

consultant for the refurbishment and attracted first-round

company’s expertise was invaluable in the rebirth of

equity investments and debt financing for the restoration

St. Petersburg’s Lion Palace.

of the Lion Palace. UralSib Financial Corporation provided its own credit


resources and arranged a loan from Export Development

More than 10 project groups and five consultants were

Canada, an export credit agency.

involved in the realisation of the Lion Palace dream. Two of St. Petersburg’s leading architects were instrumental.

All restoration work was overseen by the St. Petersburg

Evgeny Gerasimov spearheaded the building reconstruction,

Committee for the Control, Utilisation and Protection of

while Rafael Dayanov focused on restoration of the

Historical and Cultural Monuments, the Federal Service

heritage areas.

for the Supervision of the Observance of Legislation in the Field of Cultural Heritage, and the management of

Interior design for the Hotel’s public areas, guest rooms

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.

and spa was handled by Cheryl Rowley Design Inc., based in Los Angeles. The company completed all aspects in


accordance with Four Seasons design standards and in

With a mission to preserve and restore the architectural

coordination with the general contractor.

heritage of St. Petersburg, Tristar Investment Holdings is a

The two specialty restaurants, Sintoho and Percorso, were

dedicated development company established in 2001.

conceived by the Tokyo-based design studio Spin, headed

For the Lion Palace project, Tristar possesses a lease

by Yasuhiro Koichi, considered one of the world’s top 10

contract with the owner of the building, the Department of

restaurant designers.

Presidential Affairs of the Russian Federation. Restoration work was conducted in co-operation with an international team of professionals in the hotel development field. 48




Restoring the Lion Palace to its original beauty was a detailed process, requiring a period of six years from 2007 to 2013. Only a small portion of Montferrand’s original decoration had survived, including the entrance hall with vaulted ceilings and granite columns, and the grand staircase. Archived documents were used to determine the historical details as accurately as possible. These heritage areas were painstakingly restored to their original 1820 beauty, while newly constructed areas were designed to reflect authentic Russian palace style. Every detail was considered carefully before a single paintbrush was employed.




The Lion Palace was identified as an architectural

Historical accuracy was paramount to the team. Even

monument of federal significance and thus received

determining the appropriate shade of yellow for the

strict government protection. The heritage “red zone”

exterior façades was a challenge. The walls were studied

included the exterior façades and the marble lions, as

by experts who discovered more than 40 different coats

well as the front entrance hall and the grand staircase.

of paint. This made the process of choosing the authentic, original shade of yellow far from straightforward. The

Tristar, Four Seasons and all the various partners worked

yellow that was finally selected is considered the most

closely with Russian heritage and planning authorities

accurate reflection of Montferrand’s original vision.

to ensure the highest standards of historical authenticity and cultural sensitivity. Before any work could begin,

Of course, the restorers took special care to repair and

the development team produced a historical research

preserve the two white marble lions that continue to guard

document, containing over 1,000 pages and covering

the front entrance.

all aspects of the proposed work. This document was submitted to the St. Petersburg heritage authorities for review and approval. At the same time, the Lion Palace project involved a tremendous amount of new construction in order to meet the needs of a contemporary luxury hotel. A new fifth floor was discreetly added to the rooftop to increase the number of guest rooms. In addition, two of the palace’s three original courtyards were topped with glass roofs to create the skylit Luceo Spa and the winter garden-style Tea Lounge. Complex mechanical and technical components were also incorporated, providing the new heating, air conditioning and other building systems required for 21st-century comfort.




Among the most noteworthy details of the Lion Palace’s

The entrance hall of the Lion Palace has been returned to its

original 1820 exterior was a large white crest located

magnificent original appearance, requiring the restoration

at the roof line directly above the main entrance on

of marble, stucco and gilding. Sculptural mouldings

Admiralteysky Prospekt.

were reconstructed, after being considered lost forever. Decorative paintings and stucco work on the ceiling were

This high-relief sculpture depicts the muses – although

recreated, based on photographs preserved from the era of

they have often been confused with angels – supporting

the Ministry of War.

the imperial coat of arms of the Russian Empire.

Special attention was paid to an area on the landing of the

The original sculptural relief was removed and lost in the

grand staircase where a sculptural relief features military

1830s during the era of the Ministry of War.

accessories, such as a helmet and armour. Since these details

Recreating the crest was not an easy task, because none of

were unlikely to have been included in Montferrand’s

the original designs had survived. However, the restorers

original design, intended to impress the prince and

searched archives and found several watercolours and

princess, it is presumed that these elements were added in

photo panoramas from the 19th century, depicting the

1828 during renovations for the Ministry of War. They too

Lion Palace in its original form. These images became the

have been perfectly restored.

reference point for plasterwork professionals to recreate this crowning detail. The new crest was restored to the palace in November 2009.


THE MYSTERIOUS GREEN ROOM While restoration work was underway in December 2008,

Judging by the exquisite level of finishes, this was likely

a small green-painted room was discovered behind a wall

the location of the store owned by the two Italian brothers

on the ground-floor promenade. No one could determine

named Leoncini, who sold art objects such as lamps and

why this room had not been recorded in the original

alabaster vases. The room’s classic features, such as curled

drawings and why it was not included within the building’s

brackets, arches and geometric cornice decorations, would

heritage protected zone.

be consistent with that time and use.

For nearly a year, the green room remained shrouded

Today, the Green Room – as it has been formally called

in mystery. It was unclear how the space had been

– has been completely restored, maintaining its original

originally used and in which historic period it had been

colour, and it has been incorporated as a special niche

decorated. Since the room was so small and had no

within the promenade. Guests of the Lion Place are

windows, it must have been considered of secondary

always intrigued to hear the room’s story.

importance and connected to a more prominent area facing Admiralteysky Prospekt. In the course of historic and architectural study, it was determined that the interior was most likely created in 1820s, when the Lion Palace still belonged to Prince and Princess Lobanov-Rostovsky.


OFFICIAL HANDOVER AND OPENING Restoration work on the Lion Palace continued steadily

Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace St. Petersburg welcomed

and, on November 11, 2011, an official ceremony was held

its first overnight paying guests on July 4, 2013.

to mark the transition to the final stage of construction

The remarkable renaissance of the Lion Palace could

and the handover of control to the hotel operator,

not have been realised without the efforts of its owners

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.

and investors, and the assistance of literally thousands

This illustrious event was attended by official

of individuals around the world. After six years of

representatives of the Department of Presidential Affairs of

dedicated work, everyone agreed that the results were

the Russian Federation, UralSib Financial Corporation,

well worth the wait.

VIY Management, Tristar Investment Holdings, and

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. After the handover, Four Seasons supervised all the elements required to establish a deluxe-calibre international hotel. Among the most important tasks was the recruitment and training of key personnel, providing more than 300 jobs in St. Petersburg.



History Reborn


A sumptuous

Sense of Arrival Approaching the front entrance of the Lion Palace today feels

remarkably as it would have in the 1820 s , in the days of Prince and Princess Lobanov-Rostovsky. From Auguste de Montferrand’s

meticulously restored façade, guarded by two lions, to the

heritage lobby and guest areas, the historic mansion has been returned to its original splendour, yet enhanced with today’s comforts and technology. For guests from around the world, Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace St. Petersburg provides the dream experience: living like Russian nobility in an authentic

19th-century palace, steps from the Hermitage and St. Isaac’s Cathedral. The beauty and history of Imperial Russia feel current and fashionable – coming to life with the highest level of personalised service.




The front entrance hall of the Lion Palace is the most

During Tsar Alexander I’s reign, a feeling of triumph

authentic heritage area, featuring original ceilings and

pervaded Russian culture after the defeat of Napoleon in

columns, as well as the grand staircase.

1812. The Russian Empire style was inaugurated by the victory and coloured the period in festive hues featuring a

Montferrand designed the entrance hall to feature three

distinctly romantic overtone.

naves, each with a barrel-vaulted ceiling. The naves are divided by two rows of Tuscan-style columns made of

This nationalistic pride is reflected in the Hotel’s reception

red and brown polished granite and featuring bases

and concierge areas, located on either side of the entrance

and capitals cast in light-coloured bronze. After lengthy

hall. Marble frames the walls, which are upholstered in

work, restoration specialists were able to return the eight

silk damask. The design of the desks is inspired by an early

columns to their original mirror-gloss appearance.

19th-century console and chest of drawers in Russian Empire style. The palace’s lion motif is repeated in the

Lobby furnishings include a circular focal table whose

brass details of an Empire-style bench.

design is attributed to Voronikhin, a St. Petersburg architect from the same period.




The indisputable highlight of the Lion Palace’s heritage

The soft, bright colours of the Neo-Classic period,

areas is the grand staircase, leading from the ground floor

associated with Catherine the Great, find their place in

to the first floor. This majestic centrepiece is decorated with

the design of the hotel’s ground-floor public areas. The

ornate stucco and marble with bronze and gold accents.

view of the Neva River during White Nights inspired the palette of the promenade and lift lobby.

It should be noted that Montferrand’s original design for the palace called for marble in the finish of the grand

The chandelier by the lifts was manufactured in St. Petersburg

staircase. However, for the 1820 construction, this

and has been hanging in this location since about 1920.

was replaced by faux marble, using painted plaster and

All other chandliers in the hotel are accurate reproductions

wood. Today the staircase has been recreated as originally

that were manufactured in St. Petersburg.

intended by Montferrand. The heritage architects selected

Two Russian mahogany cabinets provide weight and stature

marbles to reflect the period, including grey Bardiglio, red

to the length of the promenade.

Rouge du Roi, and white Bianco Carrara. However, the actual stairs are the original granite, recalling the footsteps of Prince and Princess Lobanov-Rostovsky and their noble guests nearly 200 years ago.



LOBBY Grand Staircase

LOBBY Historical Promenade


luxu r i o u s

Guest Rooms & Suites Guests at Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace St. Petersburg are

invited to immerse themselves in the sumptuous atmosphere envisioned by Prince and Princess Lobanov-Rostovsky – picturing

themselves as residents of the palace almost two centuries ago. Gazing out a window, it is easy to imagine watching the

construction of the neighbouring St. Isaac’s Cathedral and hearing the sounds of horse-drawn carriages on the stone pavement






elevated lifestyle once enjoyed by St. Petersburg’s elite.





St. Petersburg is famous for merging classical European

Light, airy and welcoming, the Hotel’s guest rooms are the

styles with its own unique distinctly Russian flair, and this

most spacious in St. Petersburg. Warm walnut front doors

Imperial aesthetic is reflected in the design of the Hotel’s 151

lead to interiors embellished with ivory-painted mouldings

guest rooms and 26 suites. The distinctive triangular format

and custom-built cabinetry. The generous ceiling heights

of Montferrand’s building provided the opportunity to

on some floors create a feeling of palatial splendour.

create many one-of-a-kind layouts, bringing individuality

The city’s traditional pastel buildings inspired the colour

and originality to the creative expression.

palettes of the décor: sky blue and yellow with a hint of

Neo-Classic furniture designs from Italy, France and

garnet, or pale yellow with blue hues.

Russia reflect the city’s singular blend of European styles.

In the bathrooms, marble walls and floors accent the

Mahogany, walnut and cherry woods are enhanced with

granite countertops, bespoke vanities and gilded mirrors

gold leaf, black lacquer and motifs of Chinoiserie. Rich

concealing built-in televisions screens. Oversized bathtubs,

velvets and silk damasks are featured in window draperies,

separate glass shower stalls and private water closets are

bed canopies, throw pillows and upholstery – creating an

features designed to meet the high standards of today’s

ambience of royal luxury.

most discerning international travellers.




To increase the total number of guest rooms, it was deemed

Reached at the top of the grand staircase, the imposing

necessary to build an additional floor on the roof of

Lobanov Presidential Suite offers the most prestigious

the Lion Palace. The task was initially challenging, since

position on the noble first floor, soaring with the

there are clear height restrictions in St. Petersburg’s

highest ceilings.

historic centre. A solution was found in changing

Decorated in the most opulent style, this spacious two-

the roof slope and moving the line of windows back

bedroom suite features a stately living room, a study

from the historic façade.

and a dining area with an adjoining serving pantry.

These fifth-floor Terrace Rooms each open onto a

Extraordinary by any standard, the tub in the master

furnished terrace with a heated floor. Guests are privileged

bathroom is carved from a single slab of marble and offers

with spectacular, up-close views of St. Isaac’s Cathedral

a view of a hand-painted fresco on the ceiling overhead.

or the Admiralty.

Extending above the Lion Palace’s front doors, an extralarge columned terrace encourages open-air dining and


entertaining with stunning views of the Admiralty building

Ideal for entertaining or relaxing in spacious comfort, the

and the Alexandrovsky Garden.

Hotel’s suites effectively capture the atmosphere of grand 19th-century residences. Most coveted are the one- and two-bedroom suites on the first floor, where the ceilings are highest and where the finest apartments were situated in the 1820s. Colour palettes offer turquoise and gold with shades of rich brown.


SUITES Suite bedroom (far left) Four Seasons Room

suites Galitzine Suite

Suites Galitzine Suite Bedroom (left), Bathroom (above)

Suites Lobanov Presidential Suite Living room detail (above), Bedroom (right) Living room (next page)

Suites Lobanov Presidential Suite Terrace view (above), Bathroom (right)


d i n i ng a t t h e

Lion Palace At Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace St. Petersburg, Russia’s rich culinary history is celebrated, while reflecting the influence

of other European and Asian cuisines. With four venues for dining and cocktails, the Lion Palace provides premier facilities

for both international travellers and the city’s local social scene – creating a lively, cosmopolitan mix.




Offering a culinary journey through Italian cuisine, Percorso

With a focus on Asian cuisine, Sintoho has a name

is one of St. Petersburg’s most stylish restaurants. The

reflecting the first letters of Singapore, Tokyo and Hong

interior uses sleekly modern Italian design to create a bold

Kong – just three of the destinations inspiring its menu.

contrast with the traditional beauty of the 19th-century

Specialties include noodles, sushi and dim sum.

Lion Palace.

The interior is stylish and state-of-the-art with a modern

The building’s original columns naturally divide the

Asian ambience. The focal point of the dining room is

restaurant into five distinct rooms, creating intimacy and

a dynamic, interactive sushi counter where guests can

versatility. The entrance leads into a bar and lounge area,

watch expert chefs prepare St. Petersburg’s freshest sushi

connecting to a casual dining area and a private dining

and sashimi, using the finest seafood, including tuna,

room suitable for up to 12 guests. The main dining room,

scallops, wild salmon, sea bass and caviar.

located in the corner of the palace, includes an original

The semi-private teppanyaki grill room may be booked

working fireplace and magnificent views of St. Isaac’s Square.

in advance for private events for up to eight guests. Skilled

This corner room was previously used by the Lion Palace’s

chefs prepare meals on the sizzling-hot grill, serving up

architect, Auguste de Montferrand, as a drawing studio

Wagu beef, scallops, whole lobster and fresh vegetables.

during the construction of St. Isaac’s Cathedral.

Creative cocktails are a specialty, while dramatic display

Percorso serves authentic Italian cuisine along with

cabinets showcase some of the world’s finest white and red

updated classics. The restaurant’s menu is inspired by the

wines. For traditional Asian dining, there is also a selection

pure flavours of high-quality ingredients – from artisan

of premium sake, served both hot and cold, in carafes and

prosciutto and regional cheeses to homemade pastas and

also in flights. Friendly, knowledgeable service creates a

first-choice meats from Piedmont and Tuscany. The wine

comfortable, easy-going atmosphere.

cellar features over 300 wines, with the majority imported from Italy.


restaurants Sintoho

restaurants Percorso



In a glass-roofed atrium, created within one of the palace’s

Named for Tsar Alexander I, who inspired the prince

original open-air courtyards, the bright and airy Tea Lounge

and princess to create the Lion Palace, Xander Bar is

offers a sunny setting for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea

reminiscent of a private club. The two adjoining rooms

or a light supper. Menu items mix Russian specialties with

are entirely clad in wood, featuring wood parquet floors,

international favourites.

panelling and ceilings. The mood is dark and romantic, and the styling is pure Russian Empire.

Comfortable seating adjoins a sunken indoor garden with year-round trees and flowers – reminiscent of a traditional

The centre wall features a double-sided fireplace, while

winter garden. A formal botanical mural runs the length

the surrounding walls provide space for bookcases and a

of the rear wall, while chandeliers hang from above. The

custom-designed cigar humidor for guests’ private storage.

palette is inspired by early fall in St. Petersburg, when green

Electrified alabaster urns sit on pedestals flanking the

leaves begin to turn golden, filtering the gentle sunlight.

windows, providing a warm glow to accent the views of Admiralteysky Prospekt and St. Isaac’s Cathedral. To ensure works of art appropriate for the period, students from the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts were commissioned to create still lifes and landscape paintings based on works by prominent European artists, including Flemish and Dutch masters. These paintings are grouped on one of the walls in Xander Bar.


restaurants The Tea Lounge

lounge Xander Bar


Luceo Spa the




A REFUGE OF RELAXATION and traditional rituals. Every member of the spa team is

Constructed within one of the palace’s original open-air courtyards, this triangular-shaped spa complex extends

committed to creating a uniquely rich cultural experience

over four floors. The eight treatment rooms – including

within a refuge of relaxation.

a deluxe couple’s suite with private lounge – offer an

Luxuriously appointed changing rooms each feature an

extensive menu of world-calibre massage, skin care and

experience shower, dry sauna and steamy Russian-style

aesthetic services.

sauna, complete with birch branches to invigorate the skin.

As St. Petersburg’s premier holistic luxury spa, Luceo

Guests may also enjoy the 24-hour fitness centre and

utilises exquisite organic products that have been selected

the glass-roofed triangular vitality pool on the top floor,

for their rare qualities and enriching fragrances, such as

bathed in sunlight and providing a warm sanctuary for

neroli, ylang ylang and sandalwood. Highlights include

lounging on chilly winter days.

pure gold signature treatments and the use of Russian amber oil. The spa employs the most inspired and skilled practitioners, each with the mission to soothe the soul, centre the mind and ease the physical stress of every guest – taking a genuine approach that integrates intuitive awareness



g a l a s a nd


Harkening back to the lavish balls and receptions of the 1820 s , Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace St. Petersburg is once again a social centrepiece for the city. Artfully combining historically accurate dÊcor with ultra modern technology, the hotel provides majestic venues for weddings and gala parties, as well as business meetings and conferences. In this illustrious setting, St. Petersburg’s high society entertains the world with pride and sophistication.




Named in honour of the visionary architect who designed

For business meetings or small social gatherings, the ground

the Lion Palace, the Montferrand Ballroom was constructed

floor of the Lion Palace presents a collection of five meeting

at the base of one of the building’s original open-air

rooms – all named for important Russian and European

courtyards, sitting immediately beneath the glass-roofed

architects and artists. Large windows offer natural daylight

Tea Lounge.

and charming streetscape views.

Entered by a dramatic descending staircase – a regal stage

The Triscorni room was named for the sculptor who

for guests of honour to make their arrivals – this newly

created the iconic lions that guard the Hotel’s entrance.

created room evokes the past with soaring 4.9-metre ceilings,

This wood-panelled venue features a coved ceiling and

Imperial-gold edgework and glittering crystal chandeliers.

state-of-the-art technology.

This opulent gala venue is decorated with paintings

Located at the tip of the building’s triangle along

influenced by styles popular in the 19th century. Artist

Admiralteysky Prospekt, the Rastrelli Boardroom provides

Evgeniy Kurkov created two large allegorical compositions

a dedicated business setting for up to 14 guests. The colour

devoted to the four seasons – “Winter/Spring” and

palette is dominated by gold, burgundy and emerald

“Summer/Fall” – taking inspiration from Italian painting,

green – accenting mahogany wood paneling with bronze

as well as the works of Rubens and Poussin.

inlay details. A bronze chandelier hangs above the boardroom table, and the ceiling is painted with a mural of a formal architectural scene.


EVENT SPACE Montferrand Grand Ballroom Detail of painting by Evgeniy Kurkov (left), Staircase landing (above)

oday, St. Petersburg’s Lion Palace is alive again, returning guests to the beauty and majesty of Imperial Russia – combining a historic setting with a modern approach to relaxation, dining and entertaining. Enhanced by highly personalised service, this is the elevated lifestyle of the 21stcentury nobility – a legend reborn at Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace St. Petersburg.

Photos: ŠThe State Hermitage, Central State Archive of Film and Photo Documents of St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg, 2013 Y. Ermolov, Nacasa & Partners INC, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts Project: VIY Management, Tristar Investment Holdings. Design: The Workhouse Inc. Text: Warren Dunford Published by: SPN

FOUR SEASONS HOTEL LION PALACE ST. PETERSBURG 1 Voznesensky Prospekt, 190000 St. Petersburg, Russia, Telephone: 7 (812) 339 8000

Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace St. Petersburg  

Rebirth Of A Legend is a book that chronicles the history of this iconic building in St. Petersburg from its beginnings as an apartment hous...

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