These paragraphs are from a 2012 letter. We returned to the Moskva Hotel, where we had stayed so many nights in the 1990s.
When we came back we stayed where we started, at the Moskva. The deskman knew us after a decade of absence from the hotel. The Moskva is one of my top three emotional picks for hotels in the world. We spent hundreds of nights here in the 1990s and early 2000s, sometimes staying for a month at a time. I watched the massive demonstrations against Milosevic from the Moskva’s windows.
In 1997 Ljiljana chose the Moskva for us over the more modern and luxurious Hyatt across the river, where most of our colleagues stayed. We loved its central location and it has a funkiness that appealed to me, a mix of early 1900s secession — art nouveau, 70’s orange shag, with a touch of Tito tacky. I always got a chuckle at the Hotel Moskva’s crest in the lobby displaying four stars.
The Moskva’s funkiness is mostly gone. The hotel has been beautifully restored to the early 1900s but with modern plumbing, flat screen TV, rock solid Wi-Fi, new beds, sink stoppers and good room lighting. There are outlets at desk level so I no longer have to crawl around on the floor to find a place to plug in my computer. Now the Moskva actually deserves its four stars. The café is also restored. It still has its ancient piano player doing a mix of light classics and Beatles songs but, the Beatles aside, the ambience is from a century ago, and the big display of cakes would shame anything in Vienna or Budapest. We ended our official tenure in Belgrade the way we began it at the Moskva.