Room Category: Corner Suite (Room 802)
Hotel Status: Not applicable
Set within a verdant oasis of seven hectares and with its own private beach, the Zhemchuzhina Hotel is a Soviet masterpiece in resort planning.
The hotel first opened in 1973. With 17 floors and more than 800 rooms, it was the largest building in Russia’s south and the second biggest hotel in the Soviet Union. In Russian, ‘Zhemchuzhina’ means pearl. This reflects the Soviets’ ambition for this hotel to be the prime jewel along the Black Sea Coast. Such ambition requires a monumental façade. On first look, the building resembles that of a cruise ship – like a concrete ship permanently stationed along the coast. It is a prime example of Soviet Modernism and Brutalism.
For many decades, the hotel was the only luxury hotel in Sochi. However, following the fall of the Soviet Union, international brands have arrived in Sochi such as the Radisson Lazurnaya in 1994 (please see my review of this hotel (https://www.livingitforyou.com/post/lazurnaya-hotel-sochi-staying-at-sochi-s-first-international-hotel-corner-suite-with-majestic-sea)).
In many ways, the hotel has lost its lustre and shine. However, it still retains some charm and nostalgic Soviet feel. With relatively affordable room rates and a central location close to Sochi’s main dining and shopping areas, the hotel is incredibly great value.
I have booked a corner suite on the 8th floor (room 802) with a large wrap around balcony fronting the beach on one side and the resort grounds on the other. The views from the balcony are incredible – perfect for watching the sunset. It is one of the best hotel balconies I have ever been in. I also loved the floor to ceiling sliding doors which provide the suite with an indoor /outdoor vibe.
The bedroom is of a good size with comfortable beds and a separate private balcony fronting the resort grounds. The bathroom feel luxurious, with a full sized bath, mosaic and marble tiles and locally sourced toiletries. There is also plenty of storage and wardrobe space.
The colour hues and interior decoration of the room however could be improved. It felt aged and lacking in vibrancy. Overall however, the suite is of a great size with all the modern conveniences you would expect from a four-star hotel.
General Impressions and Facilities
The lobby and seating areas occupy the entire length of the hotel coupled with few souvenir shops. It is airy and modern and feels premium. The hotel has undergone extensive renovations since its opening.
The resorts grounds are expansive. It is like having a private park. You do not need to leave the hotel grounds to have a leisurely walk or morning run. There are plenty of quiet areas to enjoy a good book or enjoy the breeze of the ocean. The hotel also has a private beach which can be directly accessed mere steps away from the main building. This is such a luxury in Sochi – given how the city’s public beaches are teeming with crowds especially during the summer months.
The hotel also has an Olympic size outdoor swimming pool. It is 50 metres long and has eight tracks. Incredibly, it is open all year round even during the winter. The water is constantly heated to 28 degrees. However, I did not dare to try given that the outdoor temperature at the time was a cold 14 degrees. There is also a separate children’s pool adjacent to the main pool. Next to the pool area is a Thai spa as well as a Russian banya facility. The pool and the spa area is open until 10 pm daily.
The hotel has three main restaurants in its main building – Veranda, Crystal and American Diner. Veranda is the hotel’s main restaurant and it serves Italian cuisine. The interior is elegant and smart and the food is not bad. There is also night time entertainment which changes daily. The other restaurant option is American Diner, which sports a traditional American diner interior and serves classic American fast food. It is complete with a pool table as well as TV screens from where you can watch various live sports games. I find it quite interesting and ironic to find an American themed restaurant in a Soviet era hotel. Crystal is the hotel’s buffet venue. The restaurant is huge and can accommodate 1000 people. It felt very impersonal and the breakfast choice is very limited.
There are also seasonal restaurants along the private beach, including the nautical themed Filibuster restaurant (located on a wooden ship looking building).
The service has been professional although it felt impersonal. The staff do not go out of their way to be friendly and make you feel welcomed. However, I am not complaining. I am not expecting a 5-star service or treatment.
The hotel is incredibly good value and if you would like to have a comfortable stay in Sochi with amazing sea views and lots of open space to roam around, then this is the hotel for you. I would recommend it.
Zhemchuzhina Hotel Sochi | GRAND SOVIET HOTEL | Corner Suite with INCREDIBLE Sea views