Ancient Plios, with 2514 inhabitants, only 40 miles from Kostroma and about 90 miles from Suzdal, is the smallest and perhaps the most picturesque historic town of the Russian Golden Ring, famous for breathtaking riverside vistas, tastefully restored period Chekhov-style dachas (cottages) and inimitable atmosphere of relaxed but sophisticated country living. Simple rural pleasures - raspberry in your backyard, brown caps in the forest, bream in the river - comfortably coexist here with Yacht Club restaurant frequented by celebrities, Sobornaya Sloboda dacha hotel providing luxury accommodation, regular exhibitions in local art museums attracting connoisseurs and collectors, traditional festival of chamber music in September starring best singers from Bolshoi and Mariinsky theatres.
(with Governor of Ivanovo Region Mikhail Men’).
The landmarks of Plios include the House-Museum of Levitan (a leading Russian painter of late 19th century and a close friend of Chekhov) and seven beautiful churches built from late 17th century to early 19th century. The smallest of them, a 210 years-old wooden church, was immortalized by Levitan in his "Eternal Peace" (now one of the gems of the Tretyakov Gallery collection in Moscow).
The 150 feet high Sobornaya Hill with scenic promenade and popular viewpoints was the site of the ancient wooden fortress, built in early 15th century and soon destroyed by Tatar-Mongol troops. Plios is rich in architectural heritage, the streets of the lower town hosting numerous listed buildings, mostly of the 19th century, many of them now reborn as country houses of successful artists, university professors, top government officials, diplomats and businessmen. From May to October, more than 200 thousand tourists each year come to Plios by cruise ships or coaches, usually for a brief half-day excursion.
A destination resort loved by Moscow and Saint-Petersburg intellectuals since the end of the 19th century, nowadays Plios can comfortably accommodate up to 200 guests, mostly in Hidden Russia Hotels, and another 1000 guests can enjoy modest or basic lodging - in Russian Theatrical Society Sanatorium, numerous B&Bs and tourist camps in upper Plios.
Hidden Russia Hotels is an upscale hotel property in lower Plios consisting of three hotels - Sobornaya Slododa for discerning travelers, Levitan Dachas for families and small groups, Fortecia Rus' for couples and individuals.
Quiet and romantic, Plios is a perfect hideaway, praised for its sweet fresh air and striking landscapes, showing off Russian nature at its best: great river, fir forests and birch groves, vast expanses of unspoiled land. In summer, attractions include motor boating on the Volga River, picking wild strawberries in the meadows, watching tiny northern orchids bloom in the marshes. Plios is an ideal walking area boasting a two mile long pedestrian-friendly Volga waterfront and steep ancient cobblestone trails to upper town. In winter, there are gorgeous ski routes in Zobov forest. Unforgettable hovercraft expeditions along the half-frozen Volga River are organized during Christmas and New Year holidays for guests of Hidden Russia Hotels.
Plios is a source of inspiration for artists and photographers and home to a community of, creative and friendly people. That's why the most desired vacation pastime here is informal visits to locals, affording talk and Russian tea with an Orthodox priest, an architect, a jeweller, a painter.
Dining in Plios is a pleasurable experience worth coming to this tiny town from afar or making a pause in the journey just to visit centrally located Yacht Club restaurant with private function rooms or Taiga Restaurant in Fortecia Rus' Hotel. Fine regional produce given an innovative twist is served in these two restaurants headed by Chef Dmitry Frolov. Coffee shop and Tea Room on the Waterfront are for breakfasts and light snacks.
February Duck Festival and Mushroom Weekend in August are the main gastronomic events in Plios organized by Hidden Russia Hotels.
The best places to sample quality home cooking in Plios are Levitan Dachas (a new hotel for families and small groups within Hidden Russia collection) and Visite Privee (a well known B&B founded and managed by a French family).
The notion of luxury hospitality in Plios is inseparably associated with Sobornaya Sloboda Dacha Hotel founded in 2005 and currently having 12 suites - meticulously refurbished and lovingly decorated period houses, each with a private garden of its own. Houses-suites with 1 to 6 bedrooms are scattered all over the historic centre of lower Plios enjoying the best locations on the waterfront or in the second row (in mid-season they cost from $100 to $450 per person per night).
Sobornaya Sloboda has unique infrastructure - The Yacht Club restaurant with function rooms and Dom Service, Coffee Shop and Tea Room, Dacha Theatre seating 120, Baths on the Volga waterfront, Boating Station, private jetties for yachts and cruise liners and two minimarket shops for hotel guests and dacha dwellers. Dom service is a very special kind of room service to free-standing suites. It reaches the level of fine art in frosty winter evenings when hot and delicious dinners are supplied to the dachas.
Sobornaya Sloboda has a fleet of motor boats and two comfortable hovercrafts (each with 8 cabin passenger seats) for winter expeditions.
Between River and Forest
Fortecia Rus' Hotel is perfectly located in a comfortable cul-de-sac in the west end of the Waterfront, at the foot of Zobov Forest and overlooking the Volga River. There are 20 welcoming rooms in the Main House (from $80 for double room per night), four free-standing cottages, each with 3-4 bedrooms and 2-3 bathrooms with shower and providing accommodation for up to 7 persons, and a larger and less expensive Actors' cottage sleeping 15. On the 10-acre guarded territory of the hotel there are a tiny Russian wooden bathhouse (for up to 3 persons), a spa lounge with an extensive menu of massages, a skating rink (in winter) and a sandy beach (in summer). In snowy winter and early spring months (from January to early April) guests of Fortecia Rus' go for long ski walks in Zobov forest, putting on their skis at the southern gate of the hotel and then walking (or maybe running) for hours along the high bank of the river, deciphering animals' trails and making photos of one of Russia's favourite landscapes.
Riviera on the Volga
Plios is becoming the centre of a new Riviera on the Volga shores, with a constellation of old villages nearby being converted into cosy retreats of rich and famous Muscovites. The development plans of the local municipal council include large private art museums, a golf course, an international School of Russian Language and Culture, several new eco-villages and yacht clubs, an airstrip and a larger theatre for chamber music performances.
The tourist routes from Plios enable guests to visit traditional linen and jewellery factories in Privolzhsk or sandy Asaf Islands near Yurievets, enjoy post-revolutionary avant-garde architecture of Ivanovo, make acquaintance with lacquer miniature painters in the world-famous village of Palekh or learn more about Russian Orthodox traditions in the monasteries and nunneries of Privolzhsk, Dunilovo and Lukh.
Plios is in one-hour drive distance from two large cities - Ivanovo and Kostroma - and in 2-hour drive from Yaroslavl. Nowadays Plios is comfortably accessible by plane: one-hour flights depart from Moscow airports of Domodedovo (to Ivanovo) and Vnukovo (to Kostroma).