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Inside the Real Metropol Hotel from “A Gentleman in Moscow”—Following in the Count’s Footsteps

The outside facade of the Metropol Hotel in Moscow -- where the book "A Gentleman in Moscow" takes place. The gorgeous stone facade occupies a whole city block, and is multiple stories high, located on a busy Moscow street.
The Metropol Hotel – where “A Gentleman in Moscow” takes place

“A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles is a must-read novel, recommended by even the likes of Bill Gates, and it is now also a TV series. You don’t have to be interested in Moscow either to be charmed by the wit of Count Alexander Rostov—the book’s main character.

The Count’s story takes place almost entirely in the Metropol Hotel in Moscow near the Bolshoi and the Kremlin. This hotel is where he was sentenced to house arrest in 1922 for the remainder of his life.

Count Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him a doorway into a much larger world of emotional discovery.

A person holds a hardcover copy of the book A Gentleman in Moscow in front of the Metropol Hotel, where the plot of the book takes place.

I was prompted to read it by my good friend Shannon, who lent me her copy on my last trip back home. It took me about a week to devour it from cover to cover, and it immediately became one of my favorite books I had ever read. The Count is an endearing character who one can’t help but be fascinated with and emotionally invested in.

If you haven’t read the book yet, stop right here and then click here to get yourself a copy!

The entrance to Hotel Metropol, a hotel in Moscow, Russia where the book A Gentleman in Moscow takes place.

I was fortunate enough to be living in Moscow while I read the book. So, of course, once I finished it…I had to check out the Metropol Hotel for myself.

I reached out to the Metropol to see if it would be possible for me to follow in Count Alexander Rostov’s footsteps…and was delighted to hear the Metropol will absolutely arrange an “A Gentleman in Moscow” tour of the hotel; you can even book “A Gentleman in Moscow” centered package at the hotel – complete with a stay in a room of your choice (perhaps, suite 317?), drinks at “the Shalyapin bar,” a dinner consisting of the Count’s favorite meals…and then breakfast by the hotel’s fountain (an important spot in this novel, if you haven’t read it yet).

Please note: This post was originally written in 2019 when I was living in Moscow, Russia. Given the current world events, travel to Russia is not advised.

The famous fountain inside the grand dining room of the Metropol hotel in Moscow. The fountain is marble tiled with a gold statuette of an angel. White clothed tables surround the fountain in an ornate dining room.

“If a man does not master his circumstances then he is bound to be mastered by them.”

― Amor Towles, A Gentleman in Moscow

Having only a week to arrange the tour during the hotel’s peak summer season, all of the suites were occupied. But a tour of the historic Metropol Hotel was still possible…even without an overnight stay.

“A Gentleman in Moscow” Tour of the Metropol Hotel – Following in the Count’s Footsteps


I entered the Metropol Hotel from the same entrance as the Count would have on his final entry into its grand marble lobby. The hotel has multiple entrances, but the one facing the Kremlin is the only one ever mentioned in the book.

  • Enter the entrance with a view of the Kremlin and Bolshoi.
The entrance to the Metropol hotel, looking out on the street towards the Kremlin and Bolshoi in Moscow, Russia.
The main entrance to the Metropol hotel features large brown wooden doors under a glass canopy covering the sidewalk in Moscow, Russia.
The Count’s last moments in the outside world would have been here — outside the Metropol Hotel entrance.

After passing through the hotel’s security, I took a moment to admire the lobby and see if I could spot any similarities to the book.

  • After arriving in the lobby, you can either head to the desk on your lefthand side or the check-in counter on your righthand side. Either spot can introduce you to your “A Gentleman in Moscow” guide. 

I had expected to be greeted by an employee of the hotel and given a brief tour of its interiors, sprinkled perhaps with some historical facts and maybe a few spots mentioned in the book. What I did not expect was to be greeted by Daniel, who not only had studied the book in great detail but also embodied the Count’s fondness of telling an artful story, his “curled mustache,” and deep love of the Metropol Hotel.

A suited Russian man named Daniel stands with his hands folded in front of a hotel bar, prepared to guide guests on a "Gentleman in Moscow" tour of the Metropol Hotel
My lovely “Gentleman in Moscow” tour guide, Daniel
A closeup image of Daniel and his curled mustache, which embodies the characters in "A Gentleman in Moscow"
Daniel’s curled mustache embodied the main character in “A Gentleman in Moscow.”

Daniel’s enthusiasm and deep knowledge of both the hotel and the book were a wonderful surprise and made this tour of the Metropol Hotel very exciting!

The tour started by pointing out that the Shalyapin Bar had been moved from its corner facing the Bolshoi Theatre to the righthand side of the hotel across from the elevators.

The Shalyapin Bar


The Shalyapin bar, located inside of the Metropol Hotel. This hotel lobby bar is a key scene in the book, A Gentleman in Moscow.
The Shalyapin Bar’s new location.
  • You’ll also be shown the staircase and elevator where The Count meets Anna and her energetic hounds.

The staircase where the Count meets Anna:

A staircase inside the Metropol Hotel, where characters from the book A gentleman in Moscow meet for the first time.

The Piazza 


You’ll then round the corner and enter the infamous grand dining room known as “the Piazza” in the novel.

It’s not quite the casual restaurant described in the book. Instead, you can enjoy a grand breakfast or brunch in the morning hours…or even rent the room for a private event.

You’ll, of course, notice that the fountain where the Count meets Nina is indeed right it should be, though.

The entrance to The Piazza at the Metropol Hotel. The grand dining room lies beyond two old wood doors and features a large vaulted stained glass ceiling and many dining tables.
A marbled tiled fountain in the center of a grand ballroom dining room. The fountain features a gold angel statue in the center, and is a key location from the book, A Gentleman in Moscow.
The gorgeous marble fountain where the Count would have met Nina.

Daniel also told a story of how in the early days of the hotel, this fountain used to have live fish swimming in it. Sometimes, a guest would pick out their dinner from the fountain…where the chef would promptly take the fish into the kitchen, throw it away, and prepare a suitable fillet of fish for the unknowing guest.

The Balcony for Nina’s “Experiments” 


A photo looking up to a balcony inside the Piazza grand dining room inside the Metropol Hotel. The balcony features large glass doors and overlooks the entire dining room.

This would have also been the room that housed the balcony that Nina used for her “experiments.” You’ll also be able to walk up to the balcony to get a better view of “the Piazza” and to imagine yourself as Nina, dropping a pineapple and such from here.

A gorgeous view of the Piazza dining room from a second floor balcony. Dining tables are arranged throughout the room and around a stunning marble fountain. The sun shines in through the vast stained glass ceiling.

The Count’s original room 317 (before he gets moved to the attic) was occupied the day I visited, but I was still able to get the same view of the Bolshoi Theatre from a second-floor window. (This room was more of a meeting room and not a suite.)

The Count’s View of the Bolshoi Theatre


Daniel pulls back a curtain, revealing the view of the Bolshoi Theatre -- the same view The Count would have had from his suite in A Gentleman in Moscow.

And while the “wine cellar” (with all of its lable-less wine), technically doesn’t exist, you can still visit the room where it would have been on your tour. It’s a lower-level banquet hall that may one day become the hotel’s spa…

Where the hotel’s “wine cellar” would have been

A large empty room with arched ceilings and patterned carpet, and a staircase. This room is where the wine cellar would have been in the book A Gentleman in Moscow.

“The Boyarsky”


Next, you’ll make your way up to “The Boyarsky Restaurant.” Now, technically, this isn’t a restaurant anymore. It’s a room now used for private functions. (I had visited it just after it was used for a private luncheon for some visiting diplomats.)

It’s very similar to how I had pictured it, though! And it is fun to think of the Count expertly waiting tables here.

A dimly lit dining room features several dining tables on a parquet wood floor. This room is written as "The Boyarsky" in the Metropol Hotel-based novel, A Gentleman in Moscow.
A daunting stuffed bear statue in the corner of a dining room within the Metropol Hotel.
Not mentioned in the book, but the bear is a nice addition! Haha.
A look up at the tall vaulted ceilings and glass obelisk inside the fictional Boyarsky Restaurant at Metropol Hotel.

The 6th Floor


The 6th floor/”attic” of the hotel does exist, though! It was a level that used to be used for storage and for housing the servants. However, in more recent years, the 6th floor has been converted to rooms. So, you could also stay in a room on the 6th floor…just as the Count would have. (Although, I’m assured that these rooms are far nicer than the one the Count had!)

The 6th floor of the Metropol Hotel is an unassuming hallway with tan walls and double doors leading to guest rooms.
A marble staircase inside The Metropol Hotel. The staircase is lined with an ornate carpet and is naturally lit by a wall of bright stained glass windows.
In A Gentleman in Moscow, The Count bounds these marble stairs two at a time — as he often did since the academy!

The tour will also show you other aspects of the hotel – such as famous guests who have stayed here, the hotel’s founder, beautiful rooms and views!

Photo Gallery of The Metropol Hotel from A Gentleman in Moscow


“A Gentleman in Moscow Cocktail”


Alas, why not end your tour with “A Gentleman in Moscow” cocktail? It’s “a cocktail that features a drop of decadence with a tone of comfort, sweet notes balanced against citrus flavor. It is served in a sphere of ice that one can break into the glass. Same as a writer puts an entire life, an entire world under a book’s cover so that you can share a few exciting hours or days with the company of your favorite characters.”

A leather booklet features a photo of a cocktail that's featured in the popular novel, A Gentleman in Moscow.

I did end up coming back to the hotel later that night after a performance at the Bolshoi to have a drink at the bar and sample this cocktail. I’m more like the Count and generally only partake in wine and beer, so this cocktail was a bit outside my normal palette—but I did enjoy it. I also enjoyed getting to break the ice sphere with a little hammer…

The A Gentleman in Moscow cocktail, served at a bar inside the Metropol Hotel in Moscow. The cocktail is made inside a highball glass with an ice sphere and cinnamon stick.

If you should find yourself in Moscow, I highly recommend taking this tour and enjoying a cocktail/dinner at the bar! You can click here to contact the Metropol Hotel to organize a time for your tour. And click here to book your stay at the Metropol Hotel and to see current room rates.

Please note: This post was originally written in 2019 when I was living in Moscow, Russia. Given the current world events, travel to Russia is not advised.

Are there any other fans of “A Gentleman in Moscow” out there? Let me know if you’ve read the book in the comments! (I’m also happy to answer any questions about the tour in the comments section.)

*Click here to get yourself a copy of the book!

Travel Insurance

It’s a good idea, no matter where your adventure takes you, to have travel insurance. You never know what might happen! Whether you get sick before your trip and can’t go, or you become sick or injured while on your adventure – being covered with travel insurance is a must. Some credit card companies do provide this service (check with yours), or you can get a quote from companies such as Squaremouth to find the best plan for you and your adventure. (This is the company I personally use. Forbes even recommends them!) .

**Thank you to the Metropol Hotel for facilitating this tour for me. All opinions are my own, and I am never compensated for a positive review.

Two images -- one of a book called A Gentleman in Moscow, and the second of the Metropol Hotel. Text at the top of the image says "A Gentleman in Moscow Tour" and at the bottom, text that says, "Metropol Hotel," "follow in The Count's footsteps!", and "Moscow, Russia".
A view of the grand dining room inside the Metropol Hotel. Text across the top of the image says, "A Gentleman in Moscow Tour", "Metropol Hotel", and "Walk in the footsteps of the Count in the Metropol."
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A collage of images taken during the Gentleman in Moscow tour at the Metropol Hotel in Moscow, Russia, with a banner of text across the center of the graphic.

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22 Comments

  1. I am loving the novel and savoring every line. Your page has been bookmarked so I can see the spots as I progress through the novel. Now I MUST visit!

  2. My book club discussed the book this evening, and in pursuing photos of the Metropol I stumbled across your great article. Thank you for taking us along on this fun tour of this imaginative book setting!

  3. I love the book!! A couple of chapters left to savor. Your pictures show that the hotel is far grander than I thought to imagine. Can’t wait to see what the limited tv series does with the story and the characters and the Metropol!!
    Too bad Putin is ruining Russia for the world.
    Absolutely horrid that he is killing so many innocent Ukranians and brainwashed Russian soldiers and destroying the cities in Ukraine. He is an utter fool, as are those in America who support him and our autocrat wannabe.

  4. I’m in the midst of the novel and so enjoyed learning that the metropol actually exists and seeing your photographs. Thank you! ?

  5. ditto. i have a couple of chapters left. i have already searched for the hotel. Did not see this blog till later. i even signed up on Pintrest for it which i did not want to do. But having been to Moscow a few months before Pandemic i decided to read this book on the recommendation of friends i made during that tour. i have recommended it to our book club and we are reading it this fall as a group and when i saw this tour i was thrilled so that i could orient myself with what i saw when i was there and with the book. Thank you!

  6. Thanks so much for your post and great collection of images of the Metropol. I’m in the middle of A Gentleman in Moscow and was delighted to find your post. Appreciate you sharing and allowing me to escape even further into the magic of Towles novel. Cheers!

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