Originally completed in 1953 as the Hotel Ukraina, the Royal Hotel was designed by Arkady Mordvinov and Vyacheslav Oltarzhevsky and stands as one of the “Seven Sisters” of Moscow (Mordvinov was acting as the Chairman of the Committee of Construction and Architecture at the time). This five-star hotel complex was the tallest hotel in the world at its completion at 34 stories (650ft) and is sited on the banks of the Moskva River. This unique site required considerable structural innovation during early construction, which will be discussed later in the feature.
The Seven Sisters are skyscrapers built in the Stalin-era — the neoclassical Royal Hotel is one of the seven, accompanied by the Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Apartments, the Kudrinskaya Square Building, the Hotel Leningradskaya, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the main building of the Moscow State University, and the Red Gates Administrative Building. A massive complex by any standards at almost one million square feet of floor area, the hotel boasts an array of lodging and entertainment offerings including over five hundred hotel rooms, thirty-eight extended stay apartments, five restaurants, a 400-person conference center, a 1000-person banquet hall, spa, and a fleet of river yachts.
Despite the heavy and monolithic presence of the Royal Hotel, the complex was actually constructed as a steel-framed high rise — a construction mastered by the authority on steel framed buildings at the time, Oltarzhevsky. The incredible mass of the complex belies its height which, at 34 stories in the tallest tower, requires the material characteristics of steel construction. Another innovation necessitated by project dealt with the structural foundation of the complex. The hotel’s proximity to the riverbed required the foundation to be set well below the water table — as a result, the design and construction team utilized a perimeter of deep-well needle pumps for water retention purposes.
The hotel is open for business after a 3-year renovation that was completed in April 2010, which restored the façade and modernized the hotel infrastructure with advanced water cleaning systems and efficient air circulation systems.