Poland’s most visited destination has yet to fall into the trap of offering substandard accommodation at rip-off prices. Much like the city itself, Krakow’s accommodation shows off an absorbing history and culture, with hotels and guesthouses set in alluring and sometimes unexpected places. The Old Town’s atmospheric architecture has been put to good use in hotels that cover all budgets, although you won’t be surprised to see the top hotels in some of Krakow’s most historic properties. You don’t have to stray far from the centre, although the old Jewish district of Kazimierz is worth checking out too. We’ve trawled through the city to find the best hotels for your stay in this memorable destination.
The 10 best hotels in Krakow
It’s hard to get more central than the Bonerowski Palace, which overlooks Krakow’s most famous square, Rynek Glowny (Market Square). And it’s equally hard to get more regal than this 18-room palace with origins in the 13th century. Inside it’s more 19th century, with sumptuous fabrics, heavy silks, polished parquet floors, floral wallpaper and delightfully old-fashioned furnishings. The hotel’s restaurant faces the square, where tables spill outside in the summer, and the cosy St John’s Jazz and Wine Club is housed in the brick vaulted cellars.
Poland’s first member of the Relais & Chateaux group has a cocooning air of plushness within its 16th-century walls. Set on Krakow’s oldest street, the Copernicus is a few minutes from Wawel Castle and Krakow’s cathedral. The 29 rooms have been designed to suit this historic location admirably, with heavy wooden bedsteads, decorative friezes and parquet floors. Head to the basement spa for a tranquil swim in a brick vaulted cellar, try the refined Polish cuisine in the intimate restaurant, and catch views of the city from the summer rooftop terrace.
Just around the corner from Market Square is Hotel Stary, where centuries of history mingle in this marvellous mix of ancient and modern. In a building dating from the 14th century, the 78 rooms hint at a more contemporary look, matching comfortable leather furnishings with polished parquet floors and marble bathrooms. If you don’t manage to get one of the rooms with balconies and views of the square, you can make do with the wonderful roof terrace restaurant. And check out the two pools in the spa.
You’re just a couple of minutes from the main square at the Grand Hotel, a 19th-century former palace and grande dame of Krakow’s hotels. While the knockout grandeur is reserved for the suites and the public areas, there are enough attractive antiques and old-world character in the spacious stately rooms to satisfy traditionalists. Poke your head around the Mirror Hall, surely one of the most splendid banqueting halls in the city. The splendour extends to the Grand Signature Restaurant and Grand Café, old haunts of Nobel prize winners and Joseph Conrad.
With an eye on attracting younger travellers, PURO brings a sleek modern vibe to its 138 rooms right near the main railway station. Light-filled rooms have understated contemporary decor, and if the glass bathroom isn’t private enough, you can always draw the curtains. There’s a funky 1950s feel to the public areas, and the all-day brasserie and bar, Dystrykt One, serves a reasonably priced menu of pan-European dishes along with a few Polish flavours. Its laidback atmosphere extends to the free bike rental on offer.
You’ll find Vienna House Andel’s Cracow between the Market Square and the railway station and behind a rather forbidding façade. But inside it’s bright and modern, with bold splashes of colour in its 159 contemporary rooms. If you want excellent views of the Old Town, opt for one of the Executive rooms. The small spa offers treatments, a sauna and a gym, and you can help yourself to free bikes. Try the melange of cuisines at Mavericks restaurant, where there’s a bit of Californian, Asian, Mexican and European.
In a handy spot between the Old Town and the old Jewish quarter of Kazimierz is the immensely stylish Metropolitan Boutique Hotel, set in a sympathetically renovated 19th-century townhouse. There’s a soothing look to its 51 rooms, with soft, neutral tones and agreeably overstuffed furniture. Some have little balconies and overlook the elegant courtyard patio. Catch live piano music four nights a week during dinner at aptly named Fab Fusion restaurant, where Polish, pan-European and Asian flavours mingle on the menu.
Location is everything at the Hotel Wentzl, which is the only hotel that’s right on Market Square. Within this 16th-century townhouse are 18 individually designed rooms with a cosy, traditional style, some with beamed ceilings. If you want to be in the thick of the action, book one of the rooms (some with balconies) overlooking the square. There’s a good choice of dining: the lively Slodki Wentzl café, the more formal Wentzl and, for a change from Polish cuisine, an Italian restaurant in the vaulted cellar.
The buzzing bars and cafés of Kazimierz are a short walk away from the Queen Boutique Hotel, housed in an 18th-century townhouse in front of Planty Park. There’s some innovative design within its contemporary rooms, which feature floor-to-ceiling windows and plush padded headboards. Some have balconies, and top-floor rooms have clever skylights to make the most of the light. After a session in the Finnish sauna, try the constantly changing seasonal menu under vaulted ceilings at the refined Amaryllis restaurant.
Discreetly set in a quiet street, Hotel Wawel is still only a five-minute walk from Market Square. Dating from the 19th-century, with a few decorative touches from the Secessionist era, the Wawel exudes a warm intimacy, perhaps because there are only three floors and the spacious upper rooms are tucked under sloping roofs. Between the pretty courtyard garden, the conservatory lounge and the welcoming spa with its steam room and hot tub, there are plenty of places to relax.