The bohemian centre of St. Petersburg

The bohemian centre of St. Petersburg

We present our selection of the 10 most prominent neighbourhoods at present. You liked Lisbon, London, Sao Paulo, Delhi, Athens, Bogota... You'll love Príncipe Real, Bankside, Vila Buarque, Shahpur Jat, Metaxourgio, San Felipe...  Use the  guide to see the rest:


Where: The Tsars' former capital overthrows the cliche that Moscow is forever the queen of alternative Russia: insiders know full well that 'Peter' (St Petersburg) has slowly but surely started to shift. The bohemian centre of St Petersburg is vibrant, but this ambiance stretches far beyond.


The reason: A new taste for local artisans and designers is emerging in Russia. This recent explosion of new accommodation and squats in abandoned factories also marks the desire of today's youth to reassert their creativity. Behind anonymous facades (they're hard to find without help), small cafes and independent labels lend a bohemian atmosphere and are booming, out of sight of passers-by. In winter they use these buildings and get warm there; in summer they dance on the rooftops.


Flora and fauna : The most recent alternative hub opened last summer. Bordering the Fontanka Canal, Golitsyn Loft (named after Prince Golitsyn, its first owner) lies behind a beautiful neoclassical façade: there's an anti-cafe (cafe which charges based on time spent there), food trucks, artists' nurseries, mini canteens, a florist and even cupcakes. Settle down at the Civil Coffee Bar and try the traditional doughnuts beneath the period mouldings, or the succulent syrniki (pancakes with fromage frais). Near the Hermitage, in the Space Taiga, this eight-storey boutique offers a honed-down collection by Russian designers: the fitting rooms look out over the Neva. In the Vosstaniya district there is another 'cluster' (the local name for these bohemian pockets of designers): Etagi is spread over several slightly ramshackle floors of an old bread factory. There are designers, a hipster eatery (the Green Room Café), a vegan bar, events such as a fox festival (sic) and a cultural space. People go mainly for its extensive summer terrace with views over the rooftops. Not as essential: Fligel Store where, in addition to a photo gallery, you will find modern versions of the famous valenki felted wool boots. There are also havens for contemporary art: the new Street Art Museum, the Lumiere Hall industrial site, and the island of New Holland, in the midst an arty conversion since its takeover by Roman Abramovich.


Base Camp : The Rocco Forte Astoria Hotel is ideally located a ten-minute walk from the Hermitage, combining contemporary refinement with grandiose Russian style and excellent service. On Nevski Avenue, the 140-year-old Belmond Grand Hotel Europe will delight those seeking the luxury of an old-fashioned palace, which also boasts impeccable service.


Go : Taiga Space and Golitsyn Loft are around 10-20 minutes from Astoria by foot. Get off at Ligovsky Prospekt station for Loft Project Etagi.