Capital and largest city of Russia, Moscow is instantly recognizable by its onion-domed Kremlin fortress dominating Red Square. This huge city is the country's cultural, political and social heartbeat, and it has one of the world's largest predominances of billionaires. With its soul also in Moscow, "New Russia" has led to much glitz and kitsch, but things are settling down slightly now, and there is a return to culture, art and urbane living. Moscow event venues are challenged to meet the expectations of Muscovites, who are no strangers to both haute cuisine and haute couture.
Moscow has two international airports, Sheremetyevo (SVO), which is 18 miles northwest of the city center, and Domodedovo (DME), which is 26 miles south. The former welcomes more international travelers, but the latter still handles a lot and in total handles more passengers. Both are well connected to the world.
Chief among Moscow event venues is the imposingly named All-Russian Convention Center. Set in extensive parklands with an adjacent botanical garden and grand park, the center has five main pavilions, as well as numerous other smaller pavilions and venues.
Hotel venues in Moscow can be upscale and international. Those able to host meetings include the 273-room Hilton Moscow Leningradskaya, which is in one of the city's seven famous Stalin Towers and has six meeting rooms and the magnificent Grand Ballroom for 250 guests; the 233-room Swissotel Krasnye Holmy, which has 20 meeting rooms, a ballroom on the 29th floor and a new conference center (with 14,000 square feet of meeting space and a 5,600-square-foot ballroom); the very grand, 230-room Hotel Baltschug Kempinski Moscow, which has wonderful views of the Kremlin, seven meetings rooms and the Moskva Hall for up to 300 persons; the 214-room Sheraton Palace Hotel, which has nine spaces, also for up to 250; and the 211-room Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow, which has 10 meeting rooms and the 2,000-square-foot Khachaturyan Ballroom.
Two other huge convention and exhibition spaces are Expocentre, which has more than one million square feet of indoor exhibit space and another 650,000 outdoors, and Sokolniki, which has more than 300,000 square feet of space, as well as six mobile pavilions that can be erected on its grounds or possibly anywhere else you choose in the city. Ornate choices of venue include the beautiful State Tretyakov Gallery, which has priceless Russian art, a history dating from 1892 and an exhibition hall among other spaces; Manege Central Exhibition Hall, which is a former military riding school and has 45,000 square feet of exhibit space for groups and its 2,500 pieces of art, and, for a break from frenetic Moscow, Arkhangelskoe Country Estate, the former home of the very rich Prince Yusupov, reputedly involved in the murder of Grigori Rasputin, and which has much indoor and outdoor space, including a teahouse pavilion and landscaped terraces and lawns.
You can eat well here. Groups should head to the French-Russian, old-fashioned and wonderful Cafe Pushkin, in a grand, historic building and which puts all its emphasis on business lunches and banquets; Italian-menu Semifreddo Mulinazzo, enjoying celebrity status at the moment and having a private room; equally celebrated and far more historical Cafe des Artistes, where the check might make you pause but the people-watching is fantastic; centrally located, eclectic restaurant, The Most, which turns into a very trendy nightclub in the small hours, and Sudar, which also has a Russian menu, as well as old-fashioned interiors, two main rooms seating 25 and 100 persons, respectively, and a private room for 16.