Last Updated on October 16, 2023 by Irena Domingo
Following international sanctions it is not possible to book accommodation in Russia through Booking.com, Airbnb or other Western platforms. The best alternative is currently the Russian platform Ostrovok. It allows paying with Western debit and credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, Maestro and American Express) and the booking process is very simple. In addition, as with Booking.com, it is possible to book many accommodations without a credit card and pay on arrival at the hotel.
What is Ostrovok?
Ostrovok is a hotel reservation platform, like Booking.com, based in Moscow, which was launched in October 2010 by two Russian entrepreneurs trained in Silicon Valley.
In a few years it has become the first online booking platform in Russia with 1.6 million monthly visitors and a hotel offering of more than 150,000 properties in over 200 countries. It is arguably the Russian version of Booking.com.
It is the preferred platform by Russians to make their hotel reservations not only in their country, but also on their trips to other countries. If you are looking for hotels in any city in the world, you can see how the offer is also very wide. The vast majority of the world’s hotels have joined this platform since it involves attracting a large number of Russian customers.
Following the sanctions over the Ukraine conflict, Ostrovok has seen strong growth because it is one of the few platforms that allow booking accommodation in Russia and paying with Western debit and credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, Maestro and American Express).
Ostrovok’s parent company, Emerging Travel Group, also owns the ZenHotels brand, which is more focused on other countries.
How does Ostrovok work?
What caught my attention from this platform, when I first tried it a couple of years ago, was its sleek interface. Making a reservation on this platform is extremely simple: you enter in their website, fill out the search form with the city where you will stay (or hotel) and the period of stay.
You can filter the search results in various ways: distance from downtown, stars, popularity, services, property type, booking conditions, etc. You also have a map that lets you view the results by location.
Being the largest Russian booking platform, its offer is very wide. You can find any hotel, but also apartments, villas, hostels, campings, guesthouses, cottages, etc. Moreover, the website comes in many languages, besides Russian: English, Spanish, Italian, French, German, etc., and you can choose your currency (euros, dollars, pounds, etc.).
The prices are very similar (or even lower in some cases) to those you can find on other platforms.
Depending on the hotel, you can make reservations in basically 3 ways:
- Pay on arrival: You can pay on arrival at the hotel. This is possible in two different ways:
- Making a reservation without a credit card, you only have to provide your name, e-mail and telephone. You can cancel your reservation at anytime.
- Make the reservation by giving out the details of your credit card. The payment depends on each hotel but usually it can be done till the day of arrival.
- Pay now: make a payment at the time of booking. In this case the rooms tend to be less expensive. You have to look up the cancellations policy because sometimes it is possible to cancel and claim back the money until a certain date.
I always try to make reservations that allow payment upon arrival, with the possibility of cancellation until the day of arrival.
Finally, I will say that this platform, unlike others, has a loyalty program that offers points (called “dreams”) for each booking made. 1 dream is 1 ruble and can be spent on future reservations. For a stay of five days you can get up to 1,500 dreams which would become around 15 pounds for your next stay. Not bad.
I hope you found this article useful for booking accommodation in Russia after the international sanctions. If you have any questions or suggestions, you can write them in the comments area.