It has long been a playground for the super-rich. But now, the rest of us are joining the party and booking flights to Moscow.
With its towering skyscrapers and gridlocked traffic, visitors’ first impressions of Moscow can be overwhelming. Then there is the extreme weather – the biting cold of winter and the searing heat of summer. In years gone by, it could seem like all the fun was going on behind velvet ropes, in super-clubs where oligarchs danced with beautiful girls, and the bill for a round of cocktails was likely to start your hangover early.
These days, Moscow’s cultural scene is one of the most exciting in the world. At the centre of the buzz is the ARTPLAY design complex – a massive, brightly painted former factory right in the heart of Moscow. Here spoken word poetry, controversial art shows and hedonistic clubs all spark off each other, and the crowd is a mix of locals, foreigners, hipsters and suits. Equally diverse is Krasny Oktyabr - Red October, a former chocolate factory on the banks of the Moscow River where artists and media types live, work and dance on the rooftop to live jazz.
But Moscow’s playful spirit isn’t just confined to swanky developments. Year round, Gorky Park serves as the city’s playground. With a petanque club, outdoor cinema and skate-bowl, it’s THE place to hang out in summer. Come winter, half the park turns into a skating rink, with a wooden bridge over the top for those who want to check out the scene without risking their ankles.
Whatever the season, the best Muscovite parties are the ones you stumble on by accident: the tiny den below Oldisch vintage shop; the unmarked bars off Kuznetsky Bridge. Café culture has also hit the city hard, with the area around Patriarch Pond’s colonised by sunshine and caffeine addicts. These days locals skip the savoury and go straight for the sugar rush at the aptly named ‘I Love Cake’ or else head to Café Schastye for their renowned cheesecake. The café’s name means ‘Happiness'. In a city so dedicated to pleasure, this doesn’t feel like an overstatement.