Kraków has some beautiful hotels, and if you've got the cash and want to splurge, you can do so in real style. Most of the stunning properties are located in the Old Town, along the streets running off the Main Square or tucked in a quiet park location off the Planty. A second cluster of decent places to stay is in Kazimierz. You won't find the five-star luxury class here like in the Old Town, but there are a number of nice three- and four-star properties that are, on balance, a little cheaper and quieter than their Old Town counterparts. As for location, both are excellent. An Old Town property puts you just a few steps away from the restaurants and cafes around the square, as well as Kraków's main museums and sites. On the other hand, if you're into bars, clubs, and trendy restaurants, then Kazimierz is where you want to be. Either way, the distances between the two are not great, just a 15-minute walk or short cab ride.
Rates are generally highest between April 1 and Oct. 31, as well as over the Christmas and New Year's holidays. Room prices drop by 10 to 20 percent from November through March. The prices below are for a standard double room (twin beds) in high season (outside of the Christmas and New Year's holiday season).
A fully modern hotel, working hard -- and succeeding -- at re-creating an 18th-century feel. For the room interiors, think Colonial Williamsburg, with intricately carved white woodworking in the beds and nightstands, chandeliers, and floor-to-ceiling floral print drapes. Mozart could actually drop by and feel quite at home. The service is top-notch and the location, just a couple feet off the main square, is ideal. A perfect choice if you want a hotel that will stick in your mind as long as Kraków's main square does.
Mikoajska 20. tel. 012/429-60-70. Fax 012/429-60-72. www.hotel-amadeus.pl. 22 units. 540 z ($180/£95) double. AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities: Restaurant; fitness club; sauna; limited room service; nonsmoking rooms. In room: A/C, TV, dataport, minibar, hair dryer.
Widely considered the best address in town; certainly the best of the boutique-size properties. Managed by the international Relais & Châteaux chain, and the polish shows. You'll be charmed immediately by the enormous Renaissance atrium shooting to the ceiling, and the period detailing -- from the 16th century -- that extends throughout the hotel and to the wood-beamed ceilings in the rooms on the first and second floors. A fresco, the Four Fathers of the Church, dating from the year 1500, covers the wall in room no. 101. U.S. President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, stayed here in 2003.
Kanonicza 16. tel. 012/424-34-00. Fax 012/424-34-05. www.hotel.com.pl. 29 units. 850 z ($283/£150) double. AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities: Restaurant; indoor pool; sauna; room service; nonsmoking rooms. In room: A/C, TV, dataport, minibar, hair dryer, safe.
This is a relatively recent addition to the high-end corporate market, but is already setting standards as arguably the best business hotel in the city. Everything is conceived with comfort and convenience in mind all the way down to the high-tech fitness center's special "Cracow Experience" massage ("ideal after long sightseeing, travel, or work"). Unlike many Sheratons around the world, this one is actually in a very good location for sightseeing, close to the river and within an easy walk of the Old Town or Wawel Castle. Ask for a room with a view toward the Wawel.
Powile 7. tel. 012/662-10-00. Fax 012/662-11-00. www.sheraton.com/Kraków. 22 units. 750 z ($250/£135) double. AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities: 3 restaurants; state-of-the-art health club; sauna; concierge; courtesy car; business center; salon; 24-hr. room service; dry cleaning; executive-level rooms; nonsmoking rooms. In room: A/C, TV, fax, dataport, minibar, hair dryer, iron, safe.
One of just a handful of four-star hotels in Kazimierz, the Ester is probably the nicest overall hotel in the former Jewish quarter. The property was thoroughly renovated at the start of 2006, and the rooms now have that understated, white-linen feel that you sometimes get at a good boutique hotel. The staff is thoroughly professional. The hotel's Wi-Fi access extends to the public areas and onto the outdoor terrace. The location, at the heart of the former ghetto, is just a short walk away from the synagogues and major sites.
Szeroka 20. tel. 012/429-11-88. Fax 012/429-12-33. www.hotel-ester.Kraków.pl. 32 units. 450 z ($150/£80) double. AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities: Restaurant; limited room service; dry-cleaning; nonsmoking rooms. In room: A/C, TV, dataport, minibar, hair dryer, safe.
A popular hotel, but more for its location on the Royal Route near the Florian Gate than for its amenities. The standard doubles are tiny, but clean and cutely furnished, with polished hardwood floors. The superior doubles, with queen-size beds, are bigger, but at about 100 z ($33/£18) more per night not worth the extra money. The pizzeria on the ground floor is not bad, but with a location this near to the Rynek, there's no need to dine so close to home.
Florianska 38. tel. 012/431-14-18. Fax 012/431-23-85. www.floryan.com.pl. 20 units. 360 z ($120/£65) double; 470 z ($155/£40) double superior. AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities: Restaurant; nonsmoking rooms. In room: A/C, TV, dataport, minibar, hair dryer.
Hotel Pod Wawelem
This is the first of what it is hoped will become a Kraków lodging trend: an unfussy, simple, yet still stylish boutique hotel in a great central location, not far from the river and about a 10-minute walk from the main square. The rooms are high-quality modern, with cheery light-colored walls and dark woods. In-room amenities include Wi-Fi Internet access. Ask for a room with a view toward Wawel Castle.
Na Groblach 22. tel. 012/426-26-26. Fax 012/422-33-99. www.hotelpodwawelem.pl. 48 units. 440 z ($147/£80) double. AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities: Restaurant; room service; sauna; nonsmoking rooms. In room: A/C, TV, dataport, minibar, hair dryer, safe.
RT Hotel Rezydent
Not quite the upscale boutique hotel that this place markets itself as, but a nice choice nevertheless given the absolutely top-notch location just off the main square and on the Royal Route that leads to Wawel and beyond. The rooms are relatively small, but with sturdy, stylishly modern furniture and hardwood floors. It's owned by the Polish RT chain of hotels, which also includes the similarly appointed and priced RT Regent in Kazimierz. Save 5% off the room rate by booking online.
Grodzka 9. tel. 012/429-54-10. Fax 012/429-55-76. www.rthotels.pl. 59 units. 400 z ($133/£70) double. MC, V. Amenities: Nonsmoking rooms. In room: Some A/C, TV, dataport, minibar, hair dryer.
A good second choice in Kazimierz at this price level if you can't get in at the Karmel . It's similar in many ways, well maintained and quiet, but not quite as immediately charming. The rooms are modestly furnished and on the plain side, more functional than inspiring. Uniquely, the Eden has a "salt grotto" spa in the basement, using salt brought in from Pakistan. The idea is for you to sit in the special saline air for 45 minutes to reduce stress and heal a multitude of ills, ranging from asthma to tonsillitis to acne. Once you've cured whatever ails you, head around the corner to the local pub called (not kidding): "Ye Olde Goat."
Ciemna 15. tel. 012/430-65-65. Fax 012/430-67-67. www.hoteleden.pl. 15 units. 350 z ($117/£65) double. AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities: Restaurant; spa; room service; nonsmoking rooms. In room: A/C, TV, dataport, minibar, hair dryer.
By far the most charming and inviting of Kazimierz's hotels and pensions. Maybe it's the quiet location, in a forgotten spot in the former ghetto, or the flowers hanging off the house windows, or the cute Italian restaurant on the ground floor. Something about the hotel says "home." Parquet flooring throughout. Splurge on a "comfort" room, with a big double bed and a couple of sofas in the room.
Kupa 15. tel. 012/430-66-97. Fax 012/430-67-26. www.karmel.com.pl. 15 units. 300 z ($100/£55) double; 360 z ($120/£65) double "comfort." AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities: Restaurant; room service; nonsmoking rooms. In room: A/C, TV, dataport, minibar, hair dryer.
Probably the most popular hotel in Kraków's former Jewish quarter, but not necessarily the best. The plain lobby and public areas are redeemed somewhat by a beautiful, enclosed inner courtyard. The rooms too are nothing special, but are clean and comfortable. The location is superb, near the entrance to the former Jewish quarter, but also not far from Wawel and the Old Town. They sometimes lower the rates on weekends, so ask when you book.
Miodowo 16. tel. 012/421-66-29. Fax 012/422-28-84. www.hk.com.pl. 35 units. 280 z ($93/£48) double. AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities: Restaurant; room service; nonsmoking rooms. In room: Some A/C, TV, dataport, minibar, hair dryer.
Kraków residents might laugh at this hotel being labeled a "find" since it's one of the best-known hotels in the city, right off the main square. But what many don't realize is that it's at least 100 z ($33/£18) a night less than other hotels in its class and location. So if you're looking for a glorious old hotel, with a tiled-floor lobby and chandeliers, in the center of town and don't want to shell out major cash, this your place. Ask to see several rooms since they are all different -- some are quite modern and border on the plain, while others are in high period style with quaint, old-fashioned beds and tables.
Sawkowska 3. tel. 012/421-42-22. Fax 012/421-48-30. www.hotel-saski.com.pl. 20 units. 265 z ($88/£48) double without bathroom; 360 z ($120/£65) with bathroom. AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities: Restaurant; room service; nonsmoking rooms. In room: Some A/C, TV, dataport, minibar, hair dryer.
Nathan's Villa Hostel
The American owner of this well-run and highly regarded hostel just across from Wawel Castle says his aim is to combine the social aspects of a hostel with the amenities you'd expect from a hotel. And at this price he definitely gets it right. In addition to the standard 8- and 10-bed rooms typical for a hostel, Nathan's rents out private doubles. In summer most of the guests are backpackers, but during the rest of the year, the hostel fills up with people of all age groups looking to save money while not sacrificing on location or cleanliness. Perks include free laundry, an Internet room, and a DVD movie room in case you get a rainy day.
Sw. Agnieszki 1. tel. 012/422-35-45. www.nathansvilla.com. 20 units. 160 z ($53/£30) double. MC, V. Amenities: Bar; laundry service; nonsmoking rooms.
U Pana Cogito
If you don't mind walking, this renovated villa complex, about 15 to 20 minutes by foot from the city center, represents real value. The modern rooms, done up in neutral beige and gold, have all of the personality of a standard Holiday Inn, but they're clean and quiet, with nicely done bathrooms and unexpected touches at this price point like air-conditioning in the rooms and full Internet access (LAN connection).
Bauckiego 6. tel. 012/269-72-00. Fax 012/269-72-02. www.pcogito.pl. 14 units. 250 z ($83/£45) double. AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities: Restaurant; nonsmoking rooms. In room: A/C, TV, dataport, minibar, hair dryer.
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