Moscow is a city full of adventure both day and night. Whether you want to clink glasses with oligarchs, discover world-class art, or see the city from a different perspective, here are seven unique nights out that you can only experience in Moscow.
Take in a performance at the Bolshoi Theatre
After extensive renovations, the world renowned theatre has now reopened, and once again it is staging the outstanding ballet and opera productions that established it as a global cultural stalwart. Restored to enhance its Baroque, opulent glory, the theatre has been operating since 1856 and has survived bombings, wars and several fires. Despite these adversities, it has still managed to present classics like Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, and the building is revered as much as the productions and talent of choreographers, directors, singers dancers and costume makers.
Despite Russia’s recent socialist past, or perhaps of it, many clubs and bars have adopted a policy known as ‘face control’ – an arbitrary decision made by bouncers as to who is and who isn’t allowed past the red rope. Judged case by case, people are allowed into, or rejected from, the elite clubs on a completely fabricated criteria designed to promote the elitism and exclusivity of a venue, to ensure the right-looking crowd gets in (usually attractive and wealthy). It’s a little ridiculous, but it is something you need to try to negotiate should you want to try your luck with some of the more hip bars and clubs around, like Lookin Rooms, the old Rai Moscow, where the rich, famous and good looking go to party. So, don your best frock and good luck.
Soak up the glorious Moscow skyline over dinner, or a cocktail or two, while you watch the sun go down over the monolithic city. There are a number of high-rise bars about town that promise unparalleled views of the city – award-winning City Space Bar has a 360-degree vista of Moscow from its position on the 34th floor, and its floor-to-ceiling windows make it an ideal place to grab one of their indulgent sundowners to gaze across the city with. Another high-rise hotspot is the Kalina Bar, on the 21st floor of Lotte Plaza. A chic, elegant bar that also serves up a well shaken cocktail, it’s a good place for an intimate quiet drink, or to start your night before you kick on somewhere a bit more rowdy – be sure to book ahead.
If clubbing and cocktails isn’t your thing, having an evening banya session followed by dinner at the historic Sandunybanya is a perfectly indulgent treat that is good for the soul, and your skin. Scrub, soak, sweat and thrash your stresses away in the opulent Baroque complex, which is the oldest bath house in Russia. It’s a huge complex, with multiple segregated bathing areas for men and women, pools, steam rooms, and private rooms, as well as eight separate bath house areas and a jacuzzi, so you can make a day and a night of it if you wish. Food is served in the lounge areas, though they are separate for men and women, so if you’re a mixed group it might be a little more sociable to eat in the restaurant. The restaurant serves Uzbek, Russian and Chinese food, and the dining room is no less impressive than the bath house part of the building.
For one night in May, Moscow’s art venues, museums and cultural institutions open until the early morning, lighting up the night with high-calibre culture. The city has several top-notch contemporary, modern and classical art spaces, which open their doors for free on Museum Night. Now in its 11th year, Museum Night curates special events and outdoor activities and is the event to attend should you want to catch the latest sound installation pieces or enjoy a flashmob while queuing for venues. Highlights are the Timiryazev State Biological Museum, which opens up the museum so visitors can learn about nocturnal animals, and the planetarium, which takes the evening as an opportunity for stargazing.
Moscow lights up at night – taking in all the iconic buildings is a completely different experience after the sun goes down when the city sparkles and takes on an otherworldly charm. There are many tours on offer – some focus on the city’s main architecture, and so you can see iconic landmarks, such as Stalin’s Seven Sisters, the Kremlin and the Red Square, while others take night-time adventure a little further. In particular Bunker 42, an extensive underground labyrinth of Soviet-era tunnels and bunkers, offers night tours.
This spot is another stalwart cultural institution, and one that the Moscow Philharmonic Society calls home. Celebrating the legacy of the venues’s namesake, the concert hall offers evenings that ring loud with outstanding classical music, with many of the world’s great conductors and musicians having graced the stage. Founded in 1922 as a musical trailblazer, it continues its pioneering spirit by taking pride in maintaining a sense of innovation in their interpretations – the society has a contemporary take on their renditions of the great compositions.