Been waiting for that opportunity to star in your own Dr Zhivago fantasy? Then look no further than St Petersburg - think glittering palaces, frozen canals you can skate on and horse-drawn troikas. And when you're ready to come in from the cold, head to the Grand Hotel Europe.

It's no surprise that this 138-year-old hotel is a Russian institution and fast becoming a world-wide one - Tchaikovsky honeymooned here while Sir Elton John and Bill Clinton have each enjoyed lengthy stays. But it also has bucketloads of character - check out the atmospheric corridors, and marble and gold leaf everywhere.

Pampering begins at check-in, with champagne served by your own butler, and extends to a bedding menu (lavender-scented pillow anyone?).

After settling into your luxurious suite (pictured) try the best vodka and caviar on offer at the Caviar Bar & Restaurant.

WOW FACTOR: Sunday Jazz Brunch at L'Europe - widely regarded as Russia's best restaurant.

FLIGHT TIME: 5 hours.

GO: Abercrombie & Kent www.abercrombiekent.co.uk offers three nights in a Superior Room from £995 per person, B&B. Includes return flights, transfers and a walking tour with a personal guide.