Accessing the heart of a country’s culture is what St Petersburg’s new Official State Hermitage Hotel (www.thehermitagehotel.ru; from £400) is all about. Located on central Pravda Street, the 126-room hotel occupies a restored historic building. The architectural features of the Winter Palace portion of The State Hermitage Museum have inspired the interiors – the presidential room has a fireplace replicating the original – and uniforms and porcelain are also drawn from the Winter Palace’s records. Menus are derived from royal dishes once served up to the Hermitage’s former incumbent, Catherine the Great. Whether or not the result is mere gilded pastiche will be seen when it opens this month, but with the well-respected director of the Hermitage Museum, Mikhail Piotrovsky, and his specialists providing clear aesthetic guidelines, the project has promise.