One of the most evocative destinations in the world, Russia is represented in all its contrary ways by the two cities we love - St. Petersburg and the capital Moscow. St. Petersburg is simply one of the world's most beautiful cities, built in defiance of nature and logic - and at great human cost - on marshy islands at the mouth of the River Neva on Russia's Baltic coastline. In contrast, but no less fascinating, Moscow is a more eastern-focused city than it's long-term rival. For anyone with the remotest interest in history and culture, a luxury holiday in Russia will not disappoint.
St. Petersburg is seriously impressive, but there's almost more to be learnt about the Russian psyche from the enormous palaces built by subsequent tsars and tsarinas in the countryside around the city. It's easier to understand the shift to communism - the 1917 revolution kicked off here, incidentally - after wandering around these temples to excess with a guide bringing the places to life.
A three hour daytime (or longer overnight) train away in Moscow, the sites of the Kremlin are a magnificent must-see, and the showy displays of wealth by the winners in the post-communist free-for-all are a reminder that ostentation is a trait the Russians have had all along. We know and can recommend all the latest restaurants, bars and clubs to watch the new Russian money flowing as fast as the champagne.