St. Petersburg B&Bs: Overview

Bed and breakfast is still a relatively new concept in St. Petersburg, whether because most Russians are not comfortable with the idea of allowing strangers into their homes, or because, in a country that has until very recently suffered chronic housing shortages in big cities and in a city where many families still live with three or four people in a single room, few people have had the free space in their homes to accommodate guests.

With the proliferation of mini-hotels in the centre of St. Petersburg, an increasing (although still small) number of establishments describing themselves as "bed and breakfast" have also begun to appear. In broad terms, these can be divided into two categories: On the one hand, there are B&Bs which are basically budget mini-hotels, usually with shared bathroom facilities; on the other hand, there are private establishments, owned and manged by families or individuals, where the owners live at the property and look after the guests themselves. For the former, the title is really more of a marketing tool to differentiate them from competitors, although for those travelling on a low budget, they certainly have their appeal.

It is the latter category, however, that we prefer to recommend, as we think these establishments offer a substantially different experience for guests who want more personal, homely accommodation and greater insight into real Russian life. It is also worth noting, however, that a similar experience can be found in some of St. Petersburg's best hostels (Soul Kitchen, Taiga and 1912 Hostel among them), where the trend is increasingly for as many private rooms as dorms, and management or staff who cook for and interact with guests in a manner more typical of bed and breakfasts.

As with mini-hotels, bed and breakfasts are almost exclusively located in the historic centre of St. Petersburg, occupying what were formerly either communal apartments or large family apartments. Typically, St. Petersburg bed and breakfasts have no more than eight rooms, and often bathrooms facilities are shared with one or two other rooms. Even more so than mini-hotels, B&Bs are likely to suffer from the same problems that private apartments in general suffer from in historic buildings, specifically aging infrastructure and shared entryways (see our tips and suggestions for more details).

For travellers willing to sacrifice extensive hotel facilities and amenities for more friendly and informal accommodation, the best St. Petersburg bed and breakfasts offer a unique opportunity to get to know the city and its inhabitants.