I need advice, please, for a last-minute 2-week trip to Moscow and St. Petersburg starting July 29. Russia requires pre-booked hotel names and dates before they'll accept a VISA application and I haven't made any yet. Panorama Travel Ltd. here in New York City can somehow fudge that info on the VISA without my actually having reservations and get the VISA processed in 2 weeks for $200 that I will willingly pay.
But now I have to make my "real" hotel reservations. Can anyone give me hotel recommendations--especially in very expensive Moscow? I prefer basic smaller hotels with local flavor rather than large American-style chains with all the extras. About $150/night for a single room would be great. I'm a very experienced female single traveler, living in New York City, so am comfortable with large cities and transportation systems. I usually walk all day until 8 or 9 pm to see as much as possible. Do I have to be more cautious in Moscow since I read thieves are very common there. Should I pay more for a safe center city hotel location? I plan to take a fast train from Moscow to St. P instead of flying, so could someone fill me in on their experience on Russian trains? I read cheaper trains are overnight and not really safe.
This is a lot of questions, but I've found Trip Advisor people are the best travelers and very willing to share experiences. Fortunately, I have time to research specifics on museums and other places that I'm eager to see. I'm already booked with Lufthansa so have that itinerary for the VISA application.
Many thanks for whatever suggestions anyone can make--I'm looking forward to your responses! Virginia