Vladivostok was founded during an expansionary time in Russian history, in 1860, the city quickly became a very international center, being on the shores of the Pacific ocean and close to China, Japan, Korea, and other countries.
In 1891 it was announced that Russia would build a railway line all the way from Moscow to the east coast, to end in Vladivostok, adding to the city's significance. It took another 20 years before the railway line finally commenced operation, after a mammoth construction project spanning some 6000 miles.
When the Russian revolution occurred in 1917, Vladivostok quickly became a center for various counter-revolutionary factions and didn't fall into communist hands until 1922. It became the base for the Pacific Fleet of the Soviet navy, and because of this became a closed city during the 1950s, only opening up again after the end of the communist era in 1991.
Today it is again a bustling cosmopolitan city of some 700,000 people. In layout and "feel" it is vaguely reminiscent of San Francisco - both cities being built on the hills around a harbor, and Vladivostok too has a cable car of sorts.
The city has lots of museums and a couple of preserved warships (to say nothing of the remains of the Pacific Fleet, now largely rusting at anchor).
Russian hotels vary wildly in quality and price. Although prices and values have improved in the last few years of the 1990s, the best hotels are still among the most expensive in all of Europe, but as a redeeming feature, their quality is also of highest world standards.
In Vladivostok, there is nothing that would qualify as an excellent quality hotel. There are a number of second level - what might perhaps be styled as "average" hotels, and tending to be more expensive than in other similar sized Russian cities. Then there is another quantum drop in standard to hotels that involve major compromises in quality and comfort, and of course, there are plenty of opportunities to find even worse hotels below these.
The cheaper the hotel, the less English that is spoken. In the highest grade of hotels, all reception, bar, restaurant and porter staff will speak acceptably good English. When you move down to the next grade of hotels, some staff will speak English, and when you move down another grade, you may quite likely find that, depending on who is on duty, perhaps no-one will speak English at all.
Comments? Suggestions? Send mail to David Rowell email@example.com . This page last edited : May 15, 2010