I have just returned from a week in Perm located in the Urals, a two-hour flight east of Moscow. What a great city. It was White Nights (meaning that it did not really get dark) and the first year of the new Perm Festival.
The accommodation on offer is good and varied. Although at present there is no 5* hotel, this does not matter too much. What was on offer was in good condition, the staff friendly and all was accessible. Even the big Ural Hotel, a former Soviet hotel, felt smaller once inside which was a real surprise.
The restaurants we were taken to were varied and offered local (Russian satellite states) and international food. It was plentiful and the quality excellent in some interesting environments.
The museums we visited were excellent offering both cultural and historical exhibitions. Art was also both modern and historical.
The tourist office was fabulous and our contact with the staff over the period of stay cemented that feeling. The staff were great and spoke excellent English. The maps they had were great with pertinent information and the new walking routes (red & green) were fantastic, informative and excellently presented. The guides they arranged for us through local travel agencies were also fabulous, knowledgeable, helpful, friendly and had a great level of English. They felt passionate about what they were doing and about the city and its environs.
The excursions were varied and in addition to churches and monasteries, also included an ice cave and the only surviving Gulag from the Soviet period, Perm 36 and an open-air ethnographic museum set on a hillside next to a lake and small village displaying wooden houses, churches and farm building dating back 250 years. These excursions gave you a chance to see “real Russia”, the countryside and local villages, many with single-story wooden houses complete with intricately carved wooden window frames. It has limited flight links with Europe so is probably best combined with a visit to another Russian city such as Moscow & St Petersburgh.