The ornate art nouveau splendor of the National, built in 1903, belies its revolutionary function as the pre-Kremlin residence for Lenin and subsequent home for Communist Party operatives and fellow travelers, such as author John Reed. Beautiful mosaics adorn the hotel facade; inside, the luxurious rooms and restaurants conjure up the National's prerevolutionary elegance. A plaque on the outside of the hotel commemorates the five killed in December 2003, when a female
suicide bomber blew herself up just outside the hotel's entrance. The bombing was attributed to Chechnya's separatist war.