The old: Puff House
Proudly dishing out the city’s best pastries since 1964, Puff House will take you back to the USSR. Pasteboard napkins and a weird coffee-like drink from a bucket can’t diminish the impact of the delicious all-natural food.
Bolshaya Konushenaya, 25
The new: Charlotte Café
A place for the glamorous youth, where high-heeled girls meet shiny-teethed guys in sports cars. This is St Petersburg at its hippest, and you’ve never seen anything quite like it.
2 Kazanskaja Street (+78 125 718 287; www.ginzaproject.ru)
The old: Hotel Astoria
One of the symbols of (the old) nouveau-riche Russian luxury, the Astoria was built in 1912 for the numerous princes, kings, sheikhs and artists visiting St Petersburg, Petrograd, Leningrad and St Petersburg again. Forbes.com listed it among the 10 most romantic hotels in the world – and it’s right.
39 Bolshaja Morskaja Street (+78 123 341 505; www.astoriya-hotel.ru)
The new: Off Hotel
A very small (19 guests and the place is full) but cheap (approx Dhs70 per person per night) crash pad, Off is on Griboedova, right in the centre of the city. You can see palaces, embankments and museums from its large windows.
7 Griboedov (+78 127 642 267; www.offoffoff.ru)
The old: The State Hermitage
Three million items, 13 miles of halls and passages, six buildings – all in the very heart of St Petersburg. The Hermitage lived a former life as a royal residence before becoming one of the first public museums in Tsarist Russia, and still captivates Bolsheviks and Japanese tourists alike.
Dvorzovaya nab, One (www.hermitage museum.org)
The new: Loft Project Etagi
The first loft project in the city occupies five stories of a baking plant. It combines six galleries, a hostel, a non-smoking wine bar (rare in this nicotine-stained country), a fashion boutique and the majority of the city’s freaks and intellectuals.
Ligovsky, 74 (www.loftprojectetagi.ru)
Fly from Dubai to St Petersburg with a stopover in Moscow, currently for around Dhs2,000 return with Aeroflot (www.aeroflot.ru).