What is the best alternative to Booking.com in Russia ?
Among the many Western sanctions in Russia, the world famous Booking.com suspended their operations in the country, meaning you can’t find a single hotel even in touristy Moscow or Saint Petersburg.
So how will we foreign travellers book our hotel rooms from now on ?
Like many tourists wordwide, I’m very used to book online. I explain in this post how I book my accomodations in Russia now.
Last updated : 01/05/2023
The best alternative to Booking.com
Ostrovok.ru is the best alternative to Booking.com in Russia.
The Russian made hotel reservation platform was launched a bit more than a decade ago and is the first online hotel booking platform in the country.
I didn’t even know because I never looked any further than Booking.com to be honest.
The platform has many languages versions included English, Spanish, Portuges, German & French.
Because it’s the main hotel booking platform in Russia, most hotels, guesthouses & short term rental flats can be found. You can also choose the currency and prices will appear at the rate of the day in euros, dollars, pounds or whatever currency you selected.
How to book accomodation in Crimea ?
Crimea is controlled by Russia since 2014 and is under sanctions since then. Booking.com, Airbnb and other foreign booking platforms do not operate in the peninsula. To book accomodation in Crimea you must use russian booking platforms like Ostrovok or Yandex.
How to book online without a visa/mastercard ?
I spoke to the Ostrovok customer service via Telegram (you can contact them also on Messenger & by email). A bot answered at first but I asked to speaking to an English speaking staff and a couple of minutes later a woman with perfect english answered me.
Just like Booking.com, some hotels charge you automatically, some don’t. Those ones, you can book online without a bank card and pay cash on the spot when you check-in.
She continued saying that “if you wish to pay in euros with your visa/mastercard you should book on Zenhotels.com”.
Zenhotels is the European Cypriot branch of Ostrovok, but I checked and in far away corners of Russia, there aren’t any accomodation registered. If you plan to travel off the beaten tracks, Ostrovok it is.
In brief : Book a hotel on Ostrovok.ru, make sure it’s one you can pay on arrival and when you check in, just pay cash.
Note : I often booked and paid on arrival for most of my accomodations around Russia, even before the sanctions. Small hotels/guesthouses in some parts of Russia aren’t used to have foreigners staying and if you book/pay online, they pay have to register you to the local police office. Lots of paperworks so it’s annoying for them. Understandable.
I used Ostrovok to book most of my accomodation in the Krasnodar Krai and Crimea in the summer 2022 and was very satisfied with the platform.
The best alternative to Airbnb
Airbnb is also not operating in Russia anymore. You can look for short term rental flats on Ostrovok or Yandex travel (more options). However for the last one you might need a MIR bank card to book as a prepayment is often if not always required.
Tips to book on online
Let me know in the comments if you found this post useful & don’t hesitate if you have any questions !
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Hey, such a nice article and exactly what I was looking for. In case I can pay with creditcard and know the price I pay including fee isn’t this the best? You said pay on the spot. Does this mean I can pay in Euro’s cash or will I need to pay in Rubbles? Because I am not sure I can use my card.
Thanks in advance!
Hi Nick, thanks for your comment. I doubt they will accept euros cash but ask, you never know, some people are interested. I always pay in rubles. To know if your card will work (on Ostrovok or any other russian websites) it’s simple : Was your card issued in Russia ? If not, then it won’t work.
I agree, such a helpful information. With the sanctions, it is hard to get information on Russia.
Can you please tell me when the Mongolian/ China part of the Trans Siberian will reopen.
Hello Beverly, the border between Russia and Mongolia is open and there are trains between the two countries (I’ve just checked), but for China I’ve got no idea to be honest. Have a look on Caravanistan, hopefully they have up-to-date information.