Moscow's historic Hotel Metropol sold at auction

Fri Aug 31, 2012 2:18pm EDT
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By Gabriela Baczynska

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Hotel Metropol, a Moscow landmark with a past as varied as Russia's turbulent 20th century and a guest list ranging from revolutionaries to foreign presidents, was sold into private hands on Thursday.

The five-storey Art Nouveau jewel, built by an industrialist and art patron at the turn of the 20th century, sits just off Red Square, opposite the Bolshoi Theatre.

Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin gave speeches there and the officials who lived and worked in the hotel after the Russian Revolution of 1917 included Nikolai Bukharin, who was later shot after a show trial.

The Soviet Union's first constitution and the words of its national anthem were written in the building, according to its website.

The hotel was auctioned off by the city of Moscow as part of a privatization program for 8.9 billion roubles ($276 million) to a company acting for hotel entrepreneur Alexander Klyachin, Moscow's property sales department said.

The five-storey building's facades feature painted mosaics, carved reliefs and ornate iron balustrades. Inside, there are marble walls, grand chandeliers and glass elevators.

Over the years, guests have included George Bernard Shaw, Bertolt Brecht, Sharon Stone, Giorgio Armani, Pierre Cardin, Elton John and Michael Jackson - as well as U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Nightly rates for the 362 rooms range from 14,000 roubles ($435) for an ordinary single to 80,000 roubles ($2,500) for a presidential suite.   Continued...