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Best places to stay in Russia’s small towns and countryside

Calm and green, the town of Uglich on the winding bank of the Volga is well worth a visit, a place that surrounds guests with irresistible cosiness and a feel-good mood. Choose Volzhskaya Riviera Hotel for its stunning views, indoor swimming pool, traditional sauna and 4-star comfort.

Another picturesque retreat on the Volga, whose landscapes were a source of inspiration for Isaac Levitan, is Plyos, a quaint and serene town. Stay at Zolotoy (Golden) Plyos hotel and watch the sun set over the Volga. You can also take a boat tour; the docking station is located next to this hotel.

We also recommend Volga-Volga guest house: this is a traditional Russian home with a wooden terrace and 10 unique themed rooms. Admire the river view from the wooden balcony in your room, taste hearty homemade Russian food cooked upon request, feel the warmth of a traditional fireplace in the lounge and take a steam bath with an optional dip in the Volga afterwards.

Travellers coming to Suzdal, one of Russia’s oldest towns, often describe their experience with the words “scenic”, “tranquil” and “authentic”. The same applies to the hotel Pushkarskaya Sloboda (Sloboda is an archaic Russian word for a village). Beautiful surroundings, spacious rooms with wooden floors and a selection of à la carte restaurants with Russian and European cuisine create an ambiance of rustic charm as if from a Russian folktale.

When you visit Nizhny Novgorod, why not add to the experience a night or two at the Russian 19th-century estate “Malinovaya Sloboda” (Rus. Raspberry Village)? Its romantic interiors look classic but have been designed just recently. Enjoy walks along the Linda River, barbeque and horse-riding lessons. Families will love the privacy of its wooden cottages or spacious suites.

For those touring around Karelia and Valaam, Sortavala is a fantastic base for exploring. Vivid blue colours and the freshness of Lake Ladoga, mighty tall creaky pines and delicious kalitki – local pastry – can be best enjoyed at Park-Hotel Dacha Wintera (Winter’s country house). Hire a bike, climb a rope park or take a four-wheeled cycle tour – you can find your favourite way of being active and will almost certainly wish your stay there could be longer.