What are Russian Hotels Like? In Defense of Russia and its People

What are Russian Hotels Like? In Defense of Russia and its People

What are Russian Hotels Like? In Defense of Russia and its People

The media has been arriving in Sochi over the last week in advance of the Olympics, and it’s clear that there have been some surprises regarding Russian accommodation.

The Olympics haven’t even started yet, and Twitter is already on fire with such “atrocities” as having to wait a bit for a room, tap water that’s not potable, having to throw used toilet paper into the wastebin instead of the toilet, and other inconveniences. None of these things are a big deal, and all of this amounts to normal life in Russia.

Of many gems, this particular tweet is probably my favorite:

A curtain that fell off? Oh, the humanity! “Shambles,” indeed – how will you ever survive?

Dear media: welcome to the real world that exists for 143 million people. Now get over it!

I’ve spent a combined 50 or so days traveling through Russia: two weeks were spent on a train, and the remaining time was spent in hotels scattered across the country. I’ve undoubtedly spent more time traveling through Russia than have the vast majority of Russians, and I’ve certainly spent more time in Russia than most of the western media. In no way am I an expert, but I did learn Cyrillic before traveling there, I can speak some basic Russian phrases, and I know my way around the country fairly well.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned.

Russia is home to some of the friendliest people on earth

This might contradict much of what you’ve heard about Russia’s people. And if you never bother to dig a little deeper, you might also assume they’re a bit curt. They won’t smile at you on the street, and conversations tend to be point driven. But when you express interest in them as individuals, when you make the effort to share your food and drink with them, and when you need help, they become some of the friendliest and most hospitable people on the face of this planet.

Flowers in Siberia

Flowers in Siberia

Patience is a virtue

I knew I might have to be homeless for the night when I got stuck out on the streets of a frozen solid Tyumen. I had no way of contacting the hotel owners and I had no information as to how to find the place. But with a little patience along with some creative use of Google Translate, the hotel was found. Sure, it took half the day, but it was an experience in and of itself. And the hotel turned out to be one of the nicest places in which I stayed.

Tyumen, Russia

Tyumen, Russia

There’s a lot to learn

Inconveniences might be initially challenging, but maybe there’s something to learn despite the apparent chaos? Russia has a fascinating history, and Russian cities are chock full of some of the most ornate and elaborate architecture in the world. Don’t forget to appreciate it, even if the curtain in your hotel is falling off (poor you!)

Beautiful St. Petersburg

Beautiful St. Petersburg

It’s not that big of a deal

Unless you happen to be a stray dog in Sochi, you’re probably doing okay. In fact, you’re probably having the time of your life whether you know it yet or not. Russia is a massive and beautiful country, and you get to be there for the Olympics. Enjoy it, and try not to complain too much. The world is watching.

Omsk, Russia

A wonderfully ornate Russian church

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Comments ( 12 )

  • Stephen

    Thank you for writing this. I saw a handful of these ridiculous complaints yesterday, and the whole time had this same reaction – that they just seem so out of touch with what real problems are given that these are supposed to be the people that are reporting back from the rest of the world.

  • Edna

    I’m actually in Sochi covering the Games right now and am planning on writing a similar post. It’s really not as bad as the media outlets are making it out to be. Sensationalism, eh?

  • Jack

    Excellent article! In my opinion some commentators are just blind sheeps doing what’s “popular” but actually trying to hide how shallow people they are.

  • Synne

    Thank you for writing that post confirming that not all us ‘westerners’ are snobbs and enjoy complaining! I think it’s hilarious what people complain about, obviously the curtain, but also having to toss toilet paper in a bin! Really, that is bad? It probably takes not even a second longer than tossing it in the toilet… And newsflash: not all pipes in all of the world can handle toiletpaper… I would like to see how they would like India, where even finding a proper toilet is a rare gem. I have to stop now beacuse Im making myself irritated by just thinking of what people are capable to complain about haha. I enjoyed the post and it was needed!

  • Tania Gail

    Bravo, Ed! I am so irritated by the sense of entitlement the journalists spew on Twitter. They were the lucky ones selected to report on the Olympic Games. I have no interest in their personal issues with toilet paper and curtains, and now have no interest in their reporting on the Games.

  • Jeff | Planet Bell

    Very well said.

    1. I work at a hotel and some of the complaints people make are so absurd you want to tell them to just stay at home and never leave.

    2. The minor inconveniences of the hotels shouldn’t even be brought up. The focus should be on the sports, the culture and the region.

  • yliharma

    Good point! I wonder how those journalists could survive in other (very much) less “comfy” countries…
    By the way, the toilet paper “issue” is very common in places in which water has to be carefully managed and water pressure is not very high in the pipes (like Greece, for example): after the initial surprise, I found it absolutely normal and even very much eco-friendly!

    • Ed Graham

      Yeah. It’s so common in other countries that it kind of makes those journalists look poorly traveled when they start complaining about it as though it’s the first time they’ve seen it!

  • Charlie

    I love the photo of the church. I’ve always wanted to go to Russia, it has such a rich history, but it’s true that people always speak negatively of it – though most of those people have never been there!

  • Naomi

    Thank you for enlightening those of us who have never been to Russia. The media can tarnish a place’s image in the Russia is the history. And now that I have seen it’s actually a beautiful place, I’ll plan on visiting some day. By the way, Most of the journalists who cover such stories have never traveled in the places before. they rely on stories they hear or read. Thank you!

  • Call Me Sonja

    I’m not a Westerner. I thought it was only in my home country that people had not so good impression about the people of Russia. [[http://callmesonja.travellerspoint.com/|I’ve just returned from a trip to Russia]] and how contradictory I find what I have experienced to what I hear people say about Russia. I can’t agree more to: “Russia is home to some of the friendliest people on earth”.

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