Vacation apartments: Overview

Over a decade ago in St. Petersburg, there was a serious deficit in reasonable hotel accommodation in the city, and the market for alternatives was wide open. Searching for a viable means of supplementing their income, many locals found they could rent out rooms or even whole apartments by the night, traditionally finding clients by meeting the overnight trains at St. Petersburg's railway stations. Soon a semi-official network of agents grew up to co-ordinate the market, and from these humble beginnings a whole industry has developed.

While there are an increasing number of holiday apartments available in St. Petersburg direct from private owners, the bulk of short-term rentals are currently offered through agencies. This includes most of the apartments featured on our website. While this means that St. Petersburg vacation apartments may not always have particular personal character, it also means that guests are guaranteed a certain standard of accommodation, and that there is sufficient support available should problems occur during your stay.

Most vacation apartments are located in the centre of St. Petersburg or in the historic districts of Vasilevskiy Island and the Petrograd Side. The vast majority of these apartments are in apartment buildings constructed 100-150 years ago. The condition of these buildings varies greatly, and visitors shouldn't be surprised to find crumbling plasterwork on facades, chipped and graffiti-covered paint in entranceways and communal stairwells, and old noisy lifts. This should not be taken as indicative of the condition of apartments, however, as all the apartments we list on our site have been recently renovated. New wiring and plumbing are standard, as are modern double-glazed windows and secure metal doors. Decor and furnishings vary from the most basic in low-cost apartments to designer interiors in a few exclusive properties.

If you choose one of the few vacation apartments away from the historic centre, you will almost certainly be staying in an apartment block built in the late Soviet period or more recently. There is little difference in build quality, and again appearances can be deceptive, as even high-quality modern developments tend to look like the worst social housing in Western countries. Inside, however, apartments can be large and quite luxuriously equipped.