Iconic hotel means Iconic Guests
The Hotel Moskva – one of the oldest and the most renowned hotels in our country has existed at the heart of our Capital for an entire century. Simultaneously with the growth and improvement of Belgrade as a city the hotel Moskva has gained a more significant role in its history. Since its opening in 1908, more than 45 million people have passed through this hotel, and approximately 4.5 million guests have stayed in its rooms and suites. Famous and prominent people, who left their mark in history, significantly contribute to this extraordinary statistics.
The hotel Moskva takes pride in its hall of fame for a reason. It contains framed photographs to commemorate all prominent guests of the hotel. And that is not all. Photographs of all those guests who marked the existence of our oldest hotel are placed outside the suites they stayed in during their visits to Belgrade. The walls of Moskva hide a rich history and the premises of this hotel have always been an ideal scene for grandiose celebrations held in honor of significant guests and events. The guests themselves have rather often been the entertainment due to their behavior; they lifted the atmosphere, which was etched into the memory of the hotel visitors. The legendary Toma Zdravkovic, who was well known as a great Serbian Bohemian, used to come out of his room with a glass in his hand and compose his songs on the spot, which, not long after that, became great hits and bohemian hymns.
This hotel had it all. Through its history, this hotel has witnessed – weddings and farewells, love quarrels and reconciliations, secret meetings and negotiations, but since a good hotel-manager can be considered a doctor, it had an obligation to respect a ‘patient-doctor confidentiality’ and did not disclose guests’ secrets to the public. These very secrets are interwoven in the memories of all those who have worked in the hotel Moskva. Nevertheless, the arrivals of prominent guests were not noticed by professional hotel-managers only, but also by residents of Belgrade who also desired to know about all important people who visited the hotel. The story of the famous physicist Albert Einstein, accompanied by his spouse Mileva Maric, interacting with the passers-by, whom the residents of Belgrade called the ‘Serbian son-in-law’ and ‘Mister mad scientist’ will always be remembered. He was very much entertained by all of this.
The famous film director Alfred Hitchcock was impressed by the hotel’s appearance, and in the decades to come, following his visit to Belgrade, this hotel has been visited by a number of his colleagues, such as Roman Polanski, Bernardo Bertolucci, and Milos Forman. Another star of the Seventh Art, the actor Jack Nicholson, was a guest of the hotel Moskva during the film festival held in the eighties of the last century when he spoke about how Serbian films were more complex than Hollywood films. The specific glamour and alluring atmosphere of this hotel is confirmed by the fact that Nicholson is not the only Hollywood star who has visited the hotel. At the beginning of his career, while filming one of his first movies, the famous ‘golden boy of Hollywood’, Brad Pitt, was also a guest of the hotel Moskva. Those who worked with him on the movie ‘The Dark Side of the Sun’, directed by Bozidar Nikolic, said that Brad Pitt was fascinated not only by Belgrade skylineand Kosutnjak, but also by Moskva hotel, where he stayed during his preparations for the film. Milla Jovovich, a Hollywood star of Serbian descent, was also a guest of this hotel, together with Robert De Niro, Kirk Douglas and Michael Douglas.
Another great name in the world literature experienced the hotel’s hospitality. Six years after Maxim Gorky, the famous English writer Rebecca West arrived in Belgrade. She also chose Moskva hotel as the oasis during her stay in Belgrade. That early spring in 1936, her guide through Yugoslavia was our prominent writer and journalist Stanislav Vinaver. Rebecca West was undoubtedly fascinated by what she encountered in our country. As a memory of this travel, a book called ‘Black lamb and grey falcon’ was written and printed during World War II. Among various anecdotes which she later recorded in her memoirs, there was a description of a situation in this Belgrade hotel she considered quite extraordinary, but for the residents of Belgrade at the time, it was nothing more than usual:
“But in none of those great cities (London or Paris or New York) have I seen hotel doors slowly swing open to admit, unhurried and at ease, a peasant holding a black lamb in his arms. He took up his place beside the news stand where they sold Pravda and Politika, the Continental Daily Mail, Paris-Soir, the New York Herald Tribune. He was a well-built young man, with straight fair hair, high cheekbones, and that look of blindness which comes from its antithesis, from abnormally clear sight. His suit was in the Western fashion, but he wore also a sheepskin jacket, a round black cap, and leather sandals with upturned toes; and to his ready-made shirt somebody had added some embroidery. He looked about him as if in search of someone. Twice he went to the door of the bar and peered at the faces of the stocky little men, so it was plain that he was waiting for one of their kind.
This was Belgrade at the time on its way of transition from a rural town to a modern Capital. As Belgrade progressed, our former country Yugoslavia also grew, and during the years of prosperity, various prominent and important world politicians stayed in Moskva hotel. One of them is the 36th American President, Richard Nixon, as well as the famous Indian revolutionary, Mahatma Gandhi.
Among the photographs of the famous people in the hall of fame of Moskva hotel, there are also the photographs of Luciano Pavarotti, King Petar I Karadjordjevic, Indira Gandhi, as well as the famous French writer Patrick Besson, who has recently been introduced into the hall of fame of this hotel.
Quite often have the visits of foreign stars turned into myths, but even the most experienced hotel managers such as those in Moskva hotel, have a hard time to hide the fact that the most preferred meetings were those with famous Serbian people. One can always meet guests with a good sense of humor, but Rade Serbedzija is said to be ready to make jokes at all times. Rich history and long tradition are what embellishes this hotel. This is why Princess Jelisaveta Karadjordjevic, as the first member of the royal family who returned from the exile, visited the former royal suite in this hotel, during the nineties. And there are those who fell in love with this hotel at first sight. This happened to the famous chansonnier Arsen Dedic. One winter night in Belgrade in 1967 was to be blamedfor the plane not being able to take off from the airport in Belgrade due to heavy ice and snow. Instead of flying to Moskva, Arsen stayed in the Hotel Moskva with his spouse, Gabi Novak. Since then, this suite was always reserved for them whenever they would visit the Capital. Due to the war years the famous songwriter returned to Belgrade in 2005 and organized a spectacular concert for Serbian audience. Following the concert, the celebration continued in the hotel hall, and as the kitchen was closed during the night hours, Arsen ordered minced meat burgers from a nearby kiosk and invited all of his fans to dine with him in the hotel Moskva.
The soul of a hotel are its guests and their memories made during their stay. Both in the past and nowadays, the soul of Moskva hotel was and still is embellished by the people whose deed enriched the lives of many. Nevertheless, for all the curious ones, Moskva hotel cherishes all the secrets and customs of its guests, and as such, it shall always remain a sort of a ‘forbidden city. Some of the trivia, such as those referring to the stay of Arsen Dedic in Moskva hotel, are just a small segment of what hotel managers remember and tell stories about, even today. However, a lot of water will have to flow from the Terazije fountain and a lot of time will have to pass until other trivia of the famous contemporary guests become known, since the hotel managers of Moskva hotel, which is also known as ’An everlasting story’, are loyal guardians of the privacy of their guests.