“THE ALPEN ROSE” AND THE OPENING OF “THE SAVOY”

1860 г.

In the middle of the last century, a German restaurant called “The Alpen Rose” was opened in the house at 4, Pushechnaya Street owned by Princess Olga Turkestanova. The Turkestanov family hailed from Georgia in the Caucasus, but during the reign of Peter the Great one of the family came to Russia as an escort to the Georgian king Vakhtang VI. From that time on, their genealogy can easily traced.

Princess Turkestanova inherited the property on Pushechnaya from Alexandra Argamakova and in 1900 the princess became owner of all the estate of her grandfather, Alexei Argamakov.

“The Alpen Rose” was owned by the merchant Heinrich Hermes and was frequented mainly by members of the German Club – located at the corner of Pushechnaya and Rozhdestvnka Street – and the German community in Moscow.

“The restaurant entrance was very fashionable: a carpeted staircase, tropical plants and doormen downstairs, with Moscow Germans having their breakfast there,” was how

the writer Vladimir Gilyarovsky described “The Alpen Rose”.

Actors from the Bolshoi and Maly Theatres used to go there at the end of performances, sitting in two small rooms, Gilyarovsky tells us. “The singer Bartsal presided oven one of the groups, the other by the theatre historian Mikhailovsky, and both used to take part in a private artists` club”.

There in the restaurant hall the idea of forming a literary and arts circle to unite Moscow’s intellectual and artistic elite was born.

The Maly Theatre and its celebrities were represented there in full strength. Saturdays would see the impresario Yermolova in attendance, and many of the Bolshoi`s most prominent ballet and opera stars also took part. Important journalists and editors, well-known actors from the city’s theatres, doctors and lawyers, professors and public dignatories – all joined in the circle at “The Alpen Rose”.

In 1898, the restaurant was bought up by a certain Petkevich. He russified the name to “Alpiiskaya Roza” and expanded business considerably.

In 1907, the merchant (and “Hereditary honored Citizen”) Alexander Mikhailov took over the premises and the second so-called “Mikhailov Hotel”. This was just the beginning – soon Mikhailov had bought all of Petkuvich`s estate and had created “The Moscow Alpen Rose Hotel, Restaurant and Wine Shop Share Holding Company.”

Tsar Nicholas II personally signed a by – law on February 23rd 1910 giving the company the right “to manage “The Alpen Rose” hotel and restaurant in Moscow, as well as other hotels, coffee shop and restaurants in Moscow, the outlying region, and in other cities of the Empire to facilitate the wine and food trade, est.…”

“The Alpen Rose” company, in turn, declared 200,000 rubles capital.



The history of “Alpen Rose” is also tied up with the “Salamander Fire Insurance Company” which bought property on Pushechnaya from Princess Turkestanova in 1909.

“Salamander” was established in 1846 and was the third most important insurance company in Russia at the time. Many buildings in Moscow displayed the firm’s motto – “On fire and still not Burned Out.”

The company was determined to make a good profit from its newly – acquired property, and in1910, “Salamander” “The Alpen Rose” agreed to lease part of the building for a hotel and cafй on the first floor. Perhaps referring to name the hotel “Savoy.”

“Salamander” was founded by Adjutant General Vasily Perofsky, the illegitimate son of Prince Razumovsky, and the merchants Thedor Klassen and Johann Plint of St. Petersburg. On February 26th 1846, they applied to the interior Minister, Vasily`s brother Leo, for permission to open the company. Naturally, they gained a favorable reception, and a by – law was immediately signed by Tsar Nicolas I authorizing the establishment of the “Salamander Fire Insurance Company.”

With the exception of Perovsky, most of the boards of directors were Germans. Most of the shares composing the company’s two billion ruble authorized funds were floated through banks in Berlin, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Bern and Basel. The largest shareholder was the Dutch firm “Jan Heikelm & Co.”

The company began business on October 26th, insuring the equipment of a St. Petersburg factory for the sum of 100,000 rubles.

At the turn of the century, “Salamander” begun to expand its business dramatically and to invest in real estate. By 1910, the company owned in addition to the Turkestanova with a total value of 2,327,372 rubles. The premises on Pushechnaya were purchased for 247,250 rubles – which was considered a pretty good deal.

Reconstruction of the building got under way in 1911, and was supervised by the architect Viktor Velichin. The decorated faзade for the building was supplied by M. Searl`s Granite Company.

1911 г.

Reconstruction of the building got under way in 1911, and was supervised by the architect Viktor Velichin. The decorated faзade for the building was supplied by M. Searl`s Granite Company.

The cafй was sumptuously decorated to impress potential clientele, featuring a rococo interior fashioned by the designed Tomashky – the walls sported remarkable irregularly – shaped mirrors and paintings by the designer himself. Sculptures in the cafй were made by “Gladkov, Kozlov & Co.,” after the style of the famous Kozlov studio.

Throughout 1912, restoration was carried out on both “The Savoy” and “The Alpen Rose” by the architect Visnevsky The restaurant and hotel were reopened on February 17th 1913 and on the next day the “Salamander” company moved back in. a grand banquet was held in “The Alpen Rose” to celebrate the cooperation of the two companies.

The restaurant served up “…Specially ordered oysters, omul, turbot, and March Pilsner Beer from the Meshchansky brewery.”

The menu for the New Year is also worth mentioning. “New Year’s celebrations will cost the patron three and a half rubles. All tables ordered will be decorated with fresh flowers. For your enjoyment: turbot, omul, French poulards, Rouen duck, Hamburg chicken. Orchestras: Mr. Fazanari`s Chamber Orchestra, and that of the Sumskoi Hussar regiment, conducted by Mr. Markwart.”

Just before the event, the Hussars were given permission to wear their parade uniforms. It is not hard to imagine how grand they must have looked in the restaurant.
Grace was said in the luxurious hall, and a buffet meal was served for the numerous guests.

The board of directors of “The Alpen Rose Share Holding Company” chaired by Mikhailov received dozens of telegrams of congratulation, including from the upper ranks of the Moscow administration.

Champagne was served and Mikhailov toasted the health of His Majesty the Emperor while the orchestra performed “God save the Tsar” tree times.

The decoration of “The Alpen Rose” was even more luxurious then that of “The Savoy.” “The reconstructured restaurant building can justifiably be considered one of the finest examples of its kind in terms of the size and beauty of its decoration. A remarkable pale yellow and gold colors scheme makes the hall both grandiose and cosy at the same time.

Candelabras and chandeliers made by the Schneider Company in the Versailles style are of particular interest. These appear to be the first such fixtures not produced simply for the sake of restaurant lighting. The beautifully worked crystal chandeliers attract the visitor and make him proud of Moscow’s refined European taste which created not only the chandeliers but all the rest of the restaurant’s decoration.“

The whole hotel – not only the restaurant – was expanded dramatically. “The neighboring ‘Salamander’: office is being reconstructured and expanded especially for the Savoy Hotel.

130 suites are to be equipped with up-to-date convenience, including a telephone and fireproof wall safe in each, and a bathroom for every two suites. The hotel, modestly priced but offering the same level of comfort as the most luxurious hotels, is to be opened in March.”

1913 г.

The Savoy hotel received its first guests on March 30th 1913 – a group of 35 foreigners. Generally, the hotel was to be patronized by middleranking businessmen: merchants, bankers and the managers from St. Petersburg and the provinces.

Arriving in Moscow from Kolomna, Princess Turkestanova herself stayed in the hotel on June 28th.

The writer and Moscow expect Gilyarovsky said in his 1931 “Notes of a Muscovite” that “…the German restaurant “The Alpen Rose” on Sofiyka Street is famous for its Pilsner Beer delivered from Germany. The restaurant is clean, inexpensive, and serves each day the dish of “Soldier’s Beef” – the tureen of braised meat and root vegetables is served for

25 kopeks and the customer could eat it to his heart’s content.”

As one of the nine grandest of Moscow’s hotels, The Savoy gave a ten per cent discount to participants in the All-Russian Congress of Architects on December 23rd 1913. among the participants was George Lukomsky (1884-1953), the St. Petersburg architect, painter and art historian. He was a leading publicist in the field of architecture at the beginning of the century, but was sadly little known subsequently. His articles were widely published by such magazines as “Starye Gody,” “Stolitsa I Usadba” and “Zodchiy.” Hi died in Paris but spend his years as an йmigrй working to popularize Russian art.

Studying the lists of visitors to Moscow hotels, it becomes clear that many guests to the city preferred The Savoy to other accommodation. Usually free rooms were to be founded there.

The Savoy always seemed to be an off-shoot of The Alpen Rose. Some newspapers even referred to it as the restaurant’s “new dining hall.” That is why the menus of both restaurants were quite similar.


1914 г. — 1917 г.

After Russia entered the 1st World War in August 1914, the restaurant business underwent dramatic changes. Not least because of limitations placed on the sale of alcohol, which were strictly observed in Moscow and St. Petersburg. It came as a serious blow to “The Alpen Rose” company. Restauranteurs lost their spirit and their numbers were depleted by mobilization.

A solution to the problem was finally found: small theaters and cabarets were invited to the restaurants to attract visitors. Some existed in a semi-legal status, others were established under the guise of restaurants. The risquй erotic show guaranteed the restaurants success.

The Savoy and The Alpen Rose succumbed too. An original cabaret – “Bohemia” – was opened in the Savoy on November 15th 1915. Despite its name, it was a fairly democratic affair, which tickets selling for three rubles.

“A new cabaret is to open at the Alpen Rose of the “Bat” variety.” The program was interesting and entertaining.
“Bohemia” kept going at The Alpen Rose until autumn 1916. Its actors and casual workers performed on stage at the Savoy cinema opened in the second half of 1914. Posters billed such acts as “Famous singer of intimate songs M.V. Antarelli,” “Popular romance singer Donna Donato,” “Valerie and Rene, modern dance artistes,” “Bon-Bon and Body (Negro and French) American dance duet,” and “Mendoza and Elizabeth, Spanish dancing duo.”

These innovations proved immensely successful. “The Alpen Rose Share Holding Company’s” profits rose to 128,989 rubles in 1915, a huge sum at the time.

Following the 1917 revolution, The Savoy functioned as a hotel till the early twenties. The Transport department of Moscow Municipal Counci occupied the building temporarily in 1922. The hotel was soon closed. By 1927, it was re-opened and came under the control of the Moscow Council hotel administration, and presented its guests with the “Moscovskye Malchiki” (Moscow Boys) jazz band.

By 1930, along with the Metropol and National, The Savoy was incorporated into the “Hotel” all-Union company, created to provide services for foreigners and later to be better known as “Intourist.”

The Alpen Rose was occupied after the revolution by various Soviet departments and was never again to function as a restaurant. In the twenties, the Moscow Regional Textile Union and Moscow Food Committee were based there.

The Savoy and the now defunct Alpen Rose restaurant are closely connected with art, trade and industry. Most are now forgotten by later generations and familiar today only to experts.

From 1958 to its reconstruction, The Savoy was known as “The Berlin.” As fate would have it, a hotel and restaurant on Rozhdestvenk Street, not far from Savoy, functioned under the name “Berlin” in the 1890-s.

it was renamed “Paris-England” in 1914 in honor of Russia’s military allies. It closed in 1917.

Over the last three decades the hotel was called “Berlin” and was run by intourist, Soviet company for foreign travel.

In 1987 the hotel was handed over’to INFA-HOTEL, a joint venture between Intourist and Finnair. It is the first joint venture hotel in the Soviet Union.

INFA-HOTEL has a basic fund of 10.2 million rubles, of which Intourist has 51 per cent share and Finnair 49 per cent. Joint venture funding takes place in the international money markets and is handled by Finland’s Postipankki and the Soviet Bank for Foreign Trade.

The joint venture board comprises nine members, five from Intourist and four from Finnair. The General Director of INFA-HOTEL was Mr. Skobkine. The stuff number was 184 people.

The hotel “Savoy” will open its doors as soon as restoration is over. The restoration work is being carried out by the Yugoslav company, Sipad. During the renovation the interior is restored to its original turn-of-the century style. Historic atmosphere of the hotel is combined with modern continuances. The “Savoy” is fitted with the latest technical equipment including a British ICL computer system. The hotel is linked to Finnair’s international Finres reservation system, which currently covers 33 countries.

Intuorist and Finnair intend turning the “Savoy” into one of Moscow’s most luxuding hotels. It has 86 rooms with 155 beds including 18 single rooms, 39 double rooms, 25 exclusive Savoy Club rooms and 4 suites (Finlandia, Hermitage, Savoy and Executive). All rooms represent the highest international standard and are perfectly equipped with air-conditioning, direct dial telephone, color TV with video channel and CNN-24-hours news channel, mini-bars, hair dryers, ets.

Rooms and corridors of the hotel are decorated with beautiful works of art created by Russian painters and sculptors and each one of them is for sale.

The hotel “Savoy” will be mostly for business travelers. It is the first tourist hotel in Moscow with special services for businessmen. There are several business club rooms, business center with telefax, cable and telex service, translation and interpreter services in different languages, secretarial, type-writing, photocopyrent services and many others. Besides, one can rent there personal computers, calculators, tape recorders, cameras and other equipment.

The “Savoy” is the only hotel in the country where businessmen have access to services provided by “Reuter Monitor”, in particular News Watch service, Capital markets service/ Company, news file service, Oil service.

The staff of Business Center will help to arrange meetings with Soviet organizations and firms, negotiations, reception. In addition to its own visitors Business Center of the “Savoy” hotel caters for representatives of foreign missions and delegations outside their own premises.

The hotel “Savoy” is not only the place where you can have your business matters solved but it is also a perfect place to enjoy yourselves. Infa-Service, one of the firms of INFA-HOTEL, offers guests of the “Savoy” tickets to theaters, concert halls, arranges car rental, sightseeing tours, transfers, ets.

One of the main attractions of the hotel “Savoy” is its restaurant, which seats 120 people. The interior of the restaurant is a genuine masterpiece of early 20th century design. The “Savoy” restaurant represents old traditional Russian kitchen and international menu based on French and Scandinavian kitchen.

The hotel has to bars. One of them, the bar “Savoy” serves the guests in the restaurant. The other one seating 90 guests is called the Hermitage. It is designed, constructed and supplied by the British company “Allied Breweries”.
Also in the hotel there is a fine shop “boutique” which offers the best in quality service and merchandise. From Nina Ricci, Christian Dior perfume and carefully selected Lapponia jewellery to designer clothiers by Slava Zaitsev, a partecipant of the world fashion shows.

Splendid decor of the hotel, attention and efficiency of the staff, deluxe service makes staying in the “Savoy” a most enjoyable experience.