Urban Retreat This former seat of imperial Russia has a surreal beauty, especially in the colder months when its fairy-tale architecture—the mint-green Winter Palace, the multi-striped onion domes of the Church on Spilled Blood—stands in sharp relief to the crystalline snow. The landmarks are worth a visit: the new 2,000-seat Mariinsky II theatre, which reflects the original in its glass-walled lobby, opened in 2013. But save time to discover some local favorites. Order hot squid salad at Vincent, just two minutes from the Mariinsky, or spicy stew and cheese-stufed bread at nearby Hochu Harcho. The less-discovered Vasilievsky Island, west of the city center, is home to the low-lit Restoran, known for its house-infused vodkas and pelmeni, Siberian dumplings filled with ground elk meat. Spend the night in one of the painstakingly restored rooms at the new Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace(doubles from $350), a grand yellow mansion guarded by marble lions.