Photographer turned hotelier Oksana Kurenbina took inspiration from the work of local artists for the 25 rooms at
Great Value Antique Hotel Rachmaninov (5 Kazanskaya Ul.; 7-812/571-7618; hotelrachmaninov.com; doubles from $132), a hub for creative types that occupies two sprawling floors of a Soviet-era apartment building just off Nevsky Prospekt, St. Petersburg’s main promenade. Across the Moika Canal, the newly opened W St. Petersburg (6 Voznesensky Prospekt, 877/946-8357; whotels.com; doubles from $306), the brand’s first foray into Eastern Europe, features 137 modern rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows, and lamps in the shape of gilded disco balls, all set in a 19th-century building. This corner near the Hermitage is also home to the laid-back, five-room Casa Leto B&B (34 Bolshaya Morskaya Ul.; 7-812/600-1096; casaleto.com; doubles from $289), which has an Italian residential style. Guests share a small living room and a dining area stocked with French and Australian wines and are attended to by the friendliest staff in town (most unusual in Russia). But if a fresh take on czarist glamour seems like a better fit, request one of the 17 new Terrace rooms at the 1875 landmark Grand Hotel Europe (Nevsky Prospekt, 1/7 Mikhailovskaya Ul.; 7-812/329-6888; grandhoteleurope.com; doubles from $370), overlooking Mikhailovsky Palace. At the hotel’s Art Nouveau lobby bar—once frequented by Dostoyevsky—order your vodka neat, the way the locals do. And just across the Neva River on Vasilyevsky Island, one of the city’s up-and-coming arts neighborhoods, the Finnish owners behind Sokos Hotel Palace Bridge (2-4 V. O. Birzhevoi Per.; 7-812/335-2200; sokoshotels.fi; doubles from $318) are banking on their nautical rooms to lure travelers off the beaten path.