This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.
The countdown to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia is marching on, but options for hotel rooms hasn’t gotten any better. I regularly get comments and emails asking for suggestions on how to secure hotel rooms in Sochi, and my answer hasn’t changed much over the last six months. Hotel rooms are almost all under the control of the IOC and will be until probably at least the fall. At that time it is possible that rooms that will be unused will be released for sale, or it is possible that there won’t be very many left at all. The US Embassy has warned that “an extreme shortage of hotel rooms are likely during the Olympics”.
There are many hotels under construction, but they aren’t finished yet, and may or may not be finished on time. Even if they are, their rooms may or may not make it into a general sale for the public. There are some options to secure lodging now that I outlined in this post, but none of the options seemed very good to me. Here is another article that outlines the same phenomenon.
Recently I was emailed that a new housing option has appeared – staying on one of at least seven cruise ships that will be docked in Sochi. Reportedly these ships will handle 50,000 – 60,000 Olympics attendees. Thought it was also said that about 80% of the occupants are expected to Russian tourists and 20% foreigners. The best place for info on this option (and all currently Sochi developments) is the Sochi TripAdvisor Forum.
The booking sites are primarily in Russian, but you can use Google Chrome as your browsing window to translate. Prices seem very reasonable starting at about $140 USD per night on the 4* Grand Holiday. The downside is that the reservations will require full non-refundable payment within a few days of making the reservation. I do not like the idea of going “all in” already when some other options (potentially even on points) may open up later on. However, options may only diminish as the date nears. I recommend carefully looking at your risk tolerance. I’m not sure yet what I will personally do, but this may be a pretty good option. If they are bringing in boats, and the US Embassy is warning of an extreme shortage, maybe those are some pretty big red flags that things aren’t exactly progressing as hoped.
I still think there will be some hotel rooms for sale come fall, but that is not based on any set of actual facts or assurances other than some statements that some rooms should be released by then. “Should” does not necessarily mean it will happen. I can say that as of right now I have no housing booked, and don’t plan to jump on the cruise ship in the immediate future. OF course, I am traveling with friends and without children, so I can be a bit more flexible than if I had my whole family going with me. The reports I have read of those booking a room on the ships have been positive. They expect to release booking sites in English soon.
I also can’t write a post about visiting Russia without mentioning this article about the potential punishment (jailing/fining) of those who basically do anything considered homosexual (including kissing or hand holding) or supporting gay rights in Russia. One could only hope that an international display of people from all walks of life (like the Olympics) could serve to broaden or increase the tolerance of some in Russia, but then again maybe not. Don’t really want to venture any further down political oriented roads on this forum, but still felt that needed to be included so everyone can make informed decisions.
Who all is heading to Russia and how is your planning going?