A short walk from Belorusskaya railway station, a 35-minute train ride from the airport, Moscow's first Japanese-style capsule hotel offers travellers a night's accommodation in the city center for as little as $85.
Leonardo Terigli, a businessman from Florence who sells gourmet food products to Italian restaurants in the Russian capital, flew to Moscow for less than 24 hours to hold a single meeting, spending a total of $350 on travel, including his flight.
"It's incredible," he says as he checks out of the Sleepbox Hotel, three days after it opened for business on Jan. 29. "This kind of thing was possible in London or New York, now it's even possible in Moscow."
The world's first capsule hotel opened in the Japanese city of Osaka in 1979 and the concept has spread to Europe and America, with European airport locations now followed by prime downtown spots in London and New York.
Leonid Chernikov, a 25-year-old Russian entrepreneur, got the idea for his hotel, which is located on the prestigious Tverskaya-Yamskaya Street, from a similar lodging in Amsterdam. He plans to open new branches elsewhere in Moscow and other Russian cities.
"This business scheme without any doubt will be a success," Chernikov says as he waits on customers at the hotel reception. "In Moscow there is a major problem with a lack of budget accommodation."
Last year, French midscale hotel chain Mercure opened a 109-room hotel in Moscow near the Foreign Ministry and historic Old Arbat street, marking its first expansion into Russia. A standard room was only available for 290 euros a night at short notice, more than twice the 135-euro price in Mercure's branch in the center of Paris near the Bastille.
In Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, the V-Express Hotel charges $250 for 24 hours for its cheapest option, a windowless room big enough to fit only a bed and a bedside table.
Many budget hotels are located far outside the city center, such as the Izmailovo Hotel Complex, which is capable of housing 10,000 guests.
Moscow hotel rates for business travellers in 2012 were the highest in the world for the ninth year running at an average of more than 261 pounds, according to a study by U.K. consultancy Hogg Robinson Group released on Jan. 31. This compares to about 221 pounds for third-placed New York and 206 pounds for Geneva, in sixth place.
"Even if Moscow is becoming more affordable, it is happening excruciatingly slowly," says Marina Usenko, an expert on the hotel industry at Jones Lang LaSalle in Moscow. "Those hotels which have an advantageous location are able to charge premium prices well in excess of their category."
The Russian capital, which is primarily a business destination, offers more reasonable accommodation in low season in summer and winter, argues Sergei Shpilko, head of Moscow's tourism committee.
"As business class hotels aren't full in summer, this means that tourists can stay there, which for them is something they could only dream of," he says.