New Housing Option for 2014 Olympics in Sochi

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The countdown to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia is marching on, but options for hotel rooms hasn’t gotten any better.  I regularly get comments and emails asking for suggestions on how to secure hotel rooms in Sochi, and my answer hasn’t changed much over the last six months.  Hotel rooms are almost all under the control of the IOC and will be until probably at least the fall.  At that time it is possible that rooms that will be unused will be released for sale, or it is possible that there won’t be very many left at all.  The US Embassy has warned that “an extreme shortage of hotel rooms are likely during the Olympics”.

There are many hotels under construction, but they aren’t finished yet, and may or may not be finished on time.  Even if they are, their rooms may or may not make it into a general sale for the public.  There are some options to secure lodging now that I outlined in this post, but none of the options seemed very good to me.  Here is another article that outlines the same phenomenon.

Recently I was emailed that a new housing option has appeared – staying on one of at least seven cruise ships that will be docked in Sochi.  Reportedly these ships will handle 50,000 – 60,000 Olympics attendees.  Thought it was also said that about 80% of the occupants are expected to Russian tourists and 20% foreigners.  The best place for info on this option (and all currently Sochi developments) is the Sochi TripAdvisor Forum.

The booking sites are primarily in Russian, but you can use Google Chrome as your browsing window to translate.  Prices seem very reasonable starting at about $140 USD per night on the 4* Grand Holiday.  The downside is that the reservations will require full non-refundable payment within a few days of making the reservation.  I do not like the idea of going “all in” already when some other options (potentially even on points) may open up later on.  However, options may only diminish as the date nears.  I recommend carefully looking at your risk tolerance.  I’m not sure yet what I will personally do, but this may be a pretty good option.  If they are bringing in boats, and the US Embassy is warning of an extreme shortage, maybe those are some pretty big red flags that things aren’t exactly progressing as hoped.

Russian Chrome Translation

I still think there will be some hotel rooms for sale come fall, but that is not based on any set of actual facts or assurances other than some statements that some rooms should be released by then.  “Should” does not necessarily mean it will happen.  I can say that as of right now I have no housing booked, and don’t plan to jump on the cruise ship in the immediate future.  OF course, I am traveling with friends and without children, so I can be a bit more flexible than if I had my whole family going with me.  The reports I have read of those booking a room on the ships have been positive.  They expect to release booking sites in English soon.

I also can’t write a post about visiting Russia without mentioning this article about the potential punishment (jailing/fining) of those who basically do anything considered homosexual (including kissing or hand holding) or supporting gay rights in Russia.  One could only hope that an international display of people from all walks of life (like the Olympics) could serve to broaden or increase the tolerance of some in Russia, but then again maybe not.  Don’t really want to venture any further down political oriented roads on this forum, but still felt that needed to be included so everyone can make informed decisions.

Who all is heading to Russia and how is your planning going?

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  1. I had booked on the Grand Holiday cruise ship, but now they are asking for a copy of my passport and saying the only way to pay is via bank transfer. Starting to look a bit shifty, I think I may back out despite the risks of not finding another place to stay.

  2. Thanks for including that last paragraph. Russia’s anti-lgbt policies and actions are alarming. Many people are boycotting Sochi for this reason.

  3. Jennifer, it may be they are still working some kinks out for those who are not from Russia. Keep us posted!
    dginchelsea, it is too bad since the Olympics are supposed to be (in part) about bringing different types of people from all over the world together to learn from each other, but I could totally understand why the LGBT community (and some who support it) would be sitting this one out. Tough and sad situation.

  4. My own current take: The closer the February dates are coming, the more discouraged I get! I actually now dread the upcoming schlepp to Sochi and am contemplating to not go and watch my kiddo compete in his first big O-games.
    I already considered myself very lucky when the Sochi Worldcup last February was cancelled and we didn’t have to go – the “official” statement was because of weather, but the most likely reason for cancellation was the complete lack of accommodations, even for participating athletes.
    There are no athlete – or immediate family – exceptions for the visa requirements, the process which seems itself to already encounter enormous backlogs and after reading/watching the various foreign reports about recent progress on the sites, I don’t hold my breath for availability of accommodations for this coming February. The Russians are NOT known for their friendly & HONEST “customer service” and my guess is that many (of course foreign) tourists might get stranded or will be “held hostage” for their monies, including but not limited to the means of price gauging, bribing and scams.
    Realize that bribing is very common and a “natural occurrence” of daily tourist life and I’m afraid I’m not very good at that and neither is my tolerance level for the other above-mentioned means 😉

    • nomad, this is not as easy at the London Olympics for sure. Hopefully it will all work out in the end…I’m just considering it “an adventure”.
      Tim, I have seen that. Seems that rising costs and low bookings contributed there…I think the economic situation in 2010 didn’t help anything. No guarantees ever with this sort of thing though!

  5. I bought olympic tix so I will be going — but as of now I still have no accomodations. From reading the tripadvisor forum and lonely planet guidebook, it seems that it’s quite common for visitors to book rooms upon arrival in Sochi.
    Thank you for the last paragraph, mommypoints! Once I heard that, I thought about not going but I already bought my tix (overall cost me $2000!)

    • Joey, agree that a ton of folks already have a lot invested in the Olympics so it would be hard to back out now without some real losses. I will add that Sochi will not be operating as it normally does during the Olympics as it will be MUCH BUSIER, so I would not necessarily count on the normal method of show up and get a room if it were me…though it certainly may work if you are flexible enough.

  6. Risk tolerance is definitely the way to look at it. I believe the hotel availability issue may be of even greater concern if construction delays persist.

    There are a number of folks participating on the TripAdvisor Forum who are dismayed by having to send a copy of their passport(s) and the plan for payment via bank transfer on the site. Someone on that thread mentioned that there is a safety net via PayPal bank transfer similar to that you would get if you used a credit card. I haven’t investigated that yet. I have had frequent and responsive email communication with the representative.

    Having fully surrendered my passport on overnight train/border crossing, I can attest to how uncomfortable this feels. We’ve had to email copies of our passports for other purposes, however, and it gave me little pause this time. The Russian government has to be highly vested in successfully pulling the Games off for a variety of reasons, particularly when endorsing and arranging for this method of accommodation. This vendor has the government-related credentials, and it seems to me (again reading between the lines) that this situation is a tacit admission regarding insufficient accommodations elsewhere.

    When I weigh all of the above, I’m inclined to risk my $1500. I’ve made far bigger financial mistakes in my 59 years. 😉

  7. @nomad As of now your information is not correct – athletes are now exempt from visa requirement.

    As for scams or things like that – situation is same as in any touristic place. In case police officer requires something of you you strongly belive he has no right for – just ask for supervisor

  8. Based on previous attendance at various Olympics and a previous visit to Russia, my strategy for accommodations would be to wait until a couple of weeks before. Rooms ALWAYS seem to open up, especially when there is considerable fear of shortages. That said, the wrinkle with Russia is that you need a visa. When I visited, I got one through my hotel. But I’m sure there are other ways to get visas, even if you don’t have accommodations booked.

    FWIW, I decided not to go to Sochi because I thought it would likely be too much hassle for a not terribly desirable location. I think I made the right call!

  9. I also have tickets for Sochi and am looking at what to do for a hotel. I don’t want to do a bank transfer but I don’ t want to risk not having a room.

  10. I also have tickets for Sochi and am looking at what to do for a hotel. I don’t want to do a bank transfer but I don’ t want to risk not having a room.

  11. The failed Vancouver cruise ship plan was ventured by a commercial company who canncelled due to low turnout, i.e., they weren’t going to make profit. This Sochi plan is being conducted by the Russian government who hopefully, will not scuttle the idea b/c they will look really bad doing it.

    Also, I found that, a UK based travel agency is also taking reservations for the cruise ship in Adler. They take credit card payments and offer Visa letters free of charge upon request. I crossed my fingers and booked yesterday after finding out from the Russian hotel I already booked cancelled my reservation due to lack of rooms after their website said they had room.

  12. Right now, there is no availability for hotels in the Sochi / Adler area. If you are looking for hotels, make sure you are aware of where the hotel is. Sochi is actually a very large area. The train from Sochi to Adler (the coastal cluster) is about 45 minutes, so if you are attending a late event, you might have an issue getting back to Sochi.

    Make sure you read the Trip Advisor forum. There are travel agencies that will accept credit cards and others that require a wire transfer. The ones that accept credit cards are slightly higher than Savoy-Sochi (who requires a wire transfer) – but you do get the credit card “insurance”. From what I can tell, Savoy-Sochi is the “primary” travel agency (and has the agreement with the Sochi port authorities) and these other agencies go to Savoy-Sochi to book the room.

    Personally, I would never wire transfer money to Savoy-Sochi, I would rather pay extra and have some assurance with a US credit card company.

    I agree with MommyPoints that there MAY be hotels available at some later date. However, this is not assured. If you look at the various construction pictures, the construction appears to be running significantly behind. The US hotel chains do not even have the Sochi hotels listed on their web sites so who know when they will open.

    Based on this, I am booking one of the ships. I like the location of the Grand Holiday. It is a 3-4 star ship located right in the Adler port. Walking distance to the coastal cluster. Price is right at about $200 per night – so if we are able to get a very good hotel on points, we are not out a significant amount of money if we decide to change.

  13. The closer we get the Olympics, the more nervous I get. I have tickets for almost very day and am waiting to book my hotel. I didn’t like the option of the cruise ship either so didn’t book that. Someone on the trip advisor forms gave me some emails to small Russian hotels or B&B’s that are taking reservations. I got a few quotes but honestly not sure I want to book with them. None speak English which is fine because I know some and chrome works fine for translating if they have websites. I hope more legit places open up soon: I had my hotel in London and Vancouver booked a year out. Ugh annoying!!!

  14. Tripadvisor’s thread about accommodation became a running selling ad for a cruise company. This guy Vlad is likely a travel agent, who got a handsome commission . It’s a joke.

  15. Marsha, I shared with you these mini hotels. I dont think it’s a question of legitimacy, although I can see how the fact that noone speaks English can spook you or deprive of confidence, if the simple quality of their accommodation doesn’t bother you, it will be tough to find a room for 2 for $120, 1 km from the Olympic park. I also had to talk to the owner twice or thrice before booking.

  16. I appreciate the response and yes even the cruise ship thing spooks me as well. It’ll be tough to find a decent hotel in Sochi so i’ll just have to take a chance. 🙂

    • Eek. I am still hotel-less as well, but expected to be at this point. If late November comes and I am still hotel-less I will be a little more worried.

  17. I am one who has booked one of the cruise ship rooms. Before I booked, I did a lot of investigation because I was concerned that it would become another cruise ship fiasco like Vancouver where the company that leased the cruise ship pulled out at the last minute.

    This situation appears to be completely different. The ships are actually leased by the Russian Government / Port authority – not a private company. The port authority has just used a private company to take care of the reservations. That gave me some confidence that the ships will really happen.

    In addition, it has been reported the the Russian OOC has completely booked one of the ships. The other day there was also an announcement that the Port Authority leased still another ship – this one from Costa. I doubt the port authority would lease an addition ship if the cabins were not selling fairly well – or that the OOC would be releasing many rooms to the general public. If they do release rooms, I suspect that it will not be before the end of November or possibly December based on the schedule that they have posted in the Press Services Guide.

    The schedule calls for:
    31 August press organizations can release up to 30% of their booked rooms without penalty.
    September 1 to 30 November “room resale program available” for press organizations that need additional rooms.

    Bottom line is that, I believe, the OOC will not be releasing too many hotel rooms because they just recently booked the one cruise ship. Why would they do that if they were going to be releasing hotel rooms to the public? I suspect that they did not have as many rooms as anticipated turned back in. It could also be that the OOC is trying to backstop the possibility that some of the new hotels will not be completed by Feb.

    Just my thoughts.

  18. I don’t think anyone questions legitimacy of the cruise options. People who are reluctant to use it just don’t like the idea per se.

  19. I didn’t like that the cruise ship option required full payment and it was non-refundable. I didn’t have to do that for London or Vancouver. That was my main concern.

  20. I have also booked on the Grand Holiday ship. After sending in my booking request I downloaded the form for payment by credit card and it has gone through on the second attempt via the svoy sochi travel agent. (it was rejected the first time as my signature didnt match the card exactly…). I am very happy to have booked this ship, as not only is it minutes away from the Olympic venues, but food, language, room etc will not be a problem. ( we are also cruisers so a ship will be familiar to me)..I initially started looking at mini hotels via a recommended website for the families of athletes. They are a rip off, with prices in the 300 – 400 Euros per night for a room, with comments like a brisk 8 km walk to the Olympic venues…give me a break…8 km is not a brisk walk….and this was just for the room…no breakfast…which we do get included in the price on the ship..
    Last year my daughter went to the mountain cluster for a race (snowboard) 1 yr prior as a test event. She got very sick and so did a few of the team members. I heard that the ventilation systems were not that good in the hotel rooms, also we have been warned if we are fussy travelers not to go…( we are not)…
    So back to the booking on the ship. So far I have no complaints, however I have been asked for all our passports. I do not have a problem with sending this info, as in many places that I travel you have to provide that info when you arrive in a country at your hotel. I have not discovered why they are asking for this, but was thinking they needed the info for giving us the letter of invite which you will need to obtain the visitors permit. Hopefully I am not being too trusting !!!..

    • You are correct. An image of your passports is needed for the visa invitation documents. We have reservations at a guest house at about $150 per night, and the turnaround once you supply the information is routine. You will have to present in person at a Russian consulate or use an intermediary agency to acquire your visas. It’s my understanding actual passports must accompany the visa application, which cannot be made until 45 days prior to departure. This makes me more nervous, given the sudden deluge of applications that will begin in September. We’ll be getting duplicate passports just in case, as the nearest consulate to us is in San Francisco – a couple thousand miles away over open water. 😉

  21. I have been working with Travisa to fully understand the visa requirements and when we can apply. If you go to their web site, they show which of the consulates do not enforce jurisdictional constraints. They have also said that if you apply through the SF consulate, you can only apply 45 days prior to travel. That being said, they suggested I apply through the WDC office and then I can apply 90 days prior to travel. This is what I plan on doing.

    I have done a “draft” application and one of the problems is that, for foreign travel, I had to not put some of the countries in. You are limited to 30 entries in the last 10 years. Make sure you cover everything in your current passport.

  22. Betsy, great to hear that you booked , and off.the ship too! So, welcome off board! As accommodatiions will appear (and only a lazy one cant find now a nice guest house for $150 by the Olympic park or rr station), hardly anyone would want to spend their olympics on the ship, unprotected from the stormy black sea

  23. And btw, it appears that the only entrance to the Olympic park will be by rr station, on the opposite side of the park, by kaspijskaya street,several km away from the ship, not minutes away.

      • Hey Colleen

        We have 3 in our room and went for a room with a window. We paid 48000 rubles. For 2 people I think It was about 40000 rubles. For me I think it works out to $80 each per night, but for 2 in the room would be about $90 Canadian dollars.
        I went onto the website and looks like there are still dates available for the second week which is when we are going.

  24. Two friends and I just booked three rooms on the Grand holiday for the last eight days of the Olympics. We booked through Select-A-Room, seems pretty legit on a already sketchy trip. We paid $1,894CA for a non window room each, im happy that we got it over with, hopefully we will have a room when we get there! Does anyone know if there will be a Canadian house or irish houses like there was in Vancouver 2010?

  25. Almost $2k for 8 days in a windowless ship room? Err,no. But yes, there will be national houses in the Olympic park on the way from the rr stations to the venues.

  26. Select-A-Room is charging a very large premium compared to some of the other sites that are booking the cruise ships. The most economical agency is Svoy-Sochi. You do need to do a workaround to use a CC but they have the contract with the port authority and everyone else is just rebooking. The Svoy-Sochi prices are 4,600 rubles (about $142) for an inside cabin and 5,741 rubles (about $178) for an outside cabin. Take a look at Trip Advisor and they have a lot of information on the ships and other potential accommodations. Some of the cabins can accommodate 4 people but the price is slightly higher.

  27. According to the reports, the cruise co, after selling out most of the cabins preliminarlily scheduled to be docked in Adler, unilaterally and post factum increased the nightly rate. In exchange, 3 meals had been offered which is an obvious ploy, unless one decides to schlepp to the ship to have his sandwich during a hockey game.. They know very few people will be able to eat on the ship three times a day, it’s nonsense. If they can breach already paid for contract like that, what’s next? Most likely, relocation of Adler ships to Sochi due to stormy sea.

    • This is only for the Grand Holiday. The increase is less than $16 per day per person. Not a big increase.

      You are also given an option to change to the other ship that is located in Adler.

    • They also did give the option to move to an upgraded room on the other ship – so you don’t need to pay any extra money. Even with the extra $16 per person per night, it is still a fantastic price compared to what was charged in Vancouver and London.

  28. Pete…who are you representing.?..seems to me you have a mission to say everything negative about the cruise situation.

    For other people who are interested in booking the ship I would say go for it. If it is correct that it is a longer walk as Pete would like us to believe then that is fine. It is still a lot closer than the hotels I was being offered and for a much higher price. Personally I have found this very good, booked up, sent my passport info and got the letter of invitation the same day. Looking forward to the events now, and just hoping my daughter gets to qualify for the Canadian Team…will make the whole event that more exciting…

  29. Steve, who do you think I represent? If you don’t know, maybe it’s because I’m not promoting anything here, unlike what you just did. You are just too invested in your irreversible choice now to see what is a classic bait and switch. Sure if you would have booked a cruise in Canada, you would immediately protest a new bill. But here, you can’t, even when they would switch the location, you see it’s a contract of adhesion.

    • If you are not representing anything then why are you bothering so much…anyways as you say I am already invested, fully paid up…so will have to just have to go with whatever is thrown my way….

      • There now appears to be some confusion relative to full board being required. One of the booking sites states the full board is only required for new bookings. Existing bookings have the option to get full board.

        I am sure this will clear up in the next couple of days.

  30. Pete,

    What makes you think that the 2 cruise ships that are slated for Adler going to be moved to Sochi (as you keep inferring)? Sochi already has, I believe, 5 ships planned for that locale. Do not believe they can accommodate more ships in that port.

  31. Dean, I well maybe wrong but Adler port is not suitable for cruise ships in stormy Feb. weather. It was intended for freight ships, there’s no protection, just a low wall. They won’t sell all ships in Sochi, so they simply can move Adler ships to Sochi, while canceling sochi ships. Shochi port location isn’t that bad, just 10 min walk from train station, could be faster than going around Olympic park by Adler port or paying for taxi every time.

  32. If anyone is interested, Cosport now has Cat A and B Opening Ceremony tickets available along with a lot of other tickets.

  33. Very surprised that CoSport does not need to abide by the price limitations that the Russian Government has set for hotels.

    Also, when you look at the hotels, pay attention to their location. One is 10 km from the Adler train station. Will be a real problem getting around – especially if the weather is bad.

  34. Any updated information about booking on these Adler-based cruise ships? Having a tough time finding availability, thanks very much!

    • Dustin, I haven’t been following it as closely since I bowed out of my trip. The Tripadvisor Sochi Forum would absolutely be your best resource.

  35. Hi All,

    I have a twin bed available in my room in Adler from Feb. 17-22 that I’d like to share with a fellow female traveler. Would be asking $150/night. Please contact me if interested and for more info.


  36. Hi All,
    We’ve booked a twin room (cabin) at the Princess Maria Cruise Ship – Sochi Port from 16-22 Feb for 498 Euros ($670) with breakfast and taxes incl., and we would like to re-sell it now for the same price!
    The reason why we would like to re-sell our accommodation is because I’ve been injured recently.
    Please contact me if you are interested.

    • If anyone is interested in getting some additional event tickets we are offering ours for half price we have figure skating, alpine skiing, and snowboarding events are on Feb 8 – 11th. Likely shipping them to Fan2Fan after today. Re-selling tickets has gotten really tough in the last 48 hours since eBay and other sites have gotten rid of the ability to sell Olympic tickets. Ha!

  37. Hi, I represent Resortsochi travel support agency in Sochi. We can help you with travel accommodation, find for you foreign language guides, prepare transfer and excursions in Sochi, Adler and Krasnaya Polyana. Welcome to our website or send your question right to our email. Thanks and see you in Sochi!

  38. For rent one bedroom apartment of 73 sq.m. for the Olympics in a new building in the center of Adler , large balcony , bathroom, kitchen . Renovation , furniture, appliances . Location of the house will allow you easy access to the Olympic venues . 200 meters away is a bus stop from which within 5 minutes you can reach the Adler train station by bus, from which, you can go by train-express train “Swallow” to the Olympic venues on mountains and coastal clusters. 10 minutes by car from the house you can get to the Olympic Park , where is the Ice Palace. Price is 320 euro per night during the Olympics. Can accommodate up to 2-3 people. Tel: +79653859170.English speaking.

  39. Hi guys ,
    If any of you have booked hotel and don’t want to go to sochi for Olympics ,
    I can buy it out from you guys as long as it is 4 star and above .

    Let me know

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