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
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Creating a Landmark . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
Luxurious Guest Rooms and Suites . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73
The Story of the Lions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Dining at the Lion Palace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91
The History of the Palace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
The Luceo Spa
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 Russiaâ€™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.
A HISTORY OF MAGNIFICENT DREAMS
RICH IN CULTURAL LANDMARKS
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 â€“ 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 tsarâ€™s blood was spilled provide a striking contrast.
ST. ISAACâ€™S CATHEDRAL St. Petersburgâ€™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. Petersburgâ€™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. Petersburgâ€™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.
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 REATI N G A
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. Isaacâ€™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 â€“ 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 PRINCE AND PRINCESS
INSPIRED BY TSAR ALEXANDER I
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
ARCHITECT AUGUSTE DE MONTFERRAND
ST. ISAAC’S CATHEDRAL
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
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.
CLASSIC ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN
CONSTRUCTION OF THE PALACE
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.
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 STORY O f
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
CHERISHED BY THE PEOPLE
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
IMMORTALISED BY ALEXANDER PUSHKIN
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
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 Peterâ€™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 HISTORY OF
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 cityâ€™s elite â€“ 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
TURBULENT TIMES AT THE LION PALACE
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
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
TAKEOVER BY THE MINISTRY OF WAR
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.
E N V ISIO N I N G A
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 â€“ appropriate to welcome world leaders and royalty in an atmosphere of total luxury and service.
OWNERSHIP AND INVESTMENT
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
ARCHITECTURE AND INTERIOR DESIGN
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
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
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
RESTORI N G THE
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 Montferrandâ€™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.
RESTORATION AND CONSTRUCTION
PERFECTING THE PALACE EXTERIOR
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.
RESTORING THE FRONT CREST
PLASTERWORK AND DETAILING
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
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.
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.
RECEPTION AND CONCIERGE
The front entrance hall of the Lion Palace is the most
During Tsar Alexander Iâ€™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 Hotelâ€™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 palaceâ€™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.
PROMENADE AND LIFT LOBBY
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.
LAVISH NEO-CLASSIC DÉCOR
DELUXE GUEST ROOMS
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.
LOBANOV PRESIDENTIAL SUITE
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
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.
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.
THE TEA LOUNGE
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,
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
Pampering fit for a prince or princess is the specialty of THE SPA AT FOUR SEASONS HOTEL LION PALACE ST. PETERSBURG. NAMED FOR THE LATIN WORD MEANING “TO BE LIGHT” OR “TO SHINE,” THE LUCEO
SPA TAKES INSPIRATION FROM RADIANT GEMSTONES. EACH OF THE SPA’S EIGHT TREATMENT ROOMS IS NAMED FOR A DIFFERENT STONE, SUCH AS ALEXANDRITE, AMBER, AMETHYST, EMERALD AND TURQUOISE.
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
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 dĂŠcor 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. Petersburgâ€™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
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.
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. Petersburgâ€™s Lion Palace is alive again, returning guests to the beauty and majesty of Imperial Russia â€“ 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 â€“ a legend reborn at Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace St. Petersburg.
Photos: ÂŠThe 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 fourseasons.com/stpetersburg
Published on Dec 20, 2013
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