In vibrant Kraków, Poland’s City of Kings, it can be all too easy to blend in with the tourist masses around the Unesco-listed Old Town. Instead, immerse yourself in the local culture of this fabulous Polish city by staying at one of these pads. Offering hidden history, authentic architecture or local liaison, these sleeping spots are ideal for second-time visitors and millennial travellers. Take the plunge and delve deep into Kraków’s history to uncover some joyful gems that only Krakówian locals know.
If it’s a glimpse of vintage Kraków you seek, a stay in the swanky Bonerowski Palace hotel will provide you with a memorable, authentic experience. This is a hotel oozing in history – homages to Kraków’s yesteryear are evident throughout. The lobby is furnished like a Polish royal mansion, luxurious rooms overlook the picturesque main square and the staff certainly know all the best local hangouts.
Old school meets modern day Kraków at Pod Różą (under the rose). It claims to be Kraków’s first hotel – famous names such as Tsar Alexander I of Russia and Grand Duke Constantine Romanov all stayed here. The varying room styles either give you a glimpse of modern Kraków, or send you back to the city’s past with an antique appeal. The hotel cellar contains an old-world hideaway, serving up fine wines, local beers and ice-cold vodka. Stepping outside the front door, you find yourself in the heart of Old Town Kraków.
This classic manor house is brimming with history. Hotel Maltański is located on the periphery of Kraków’s Old Town, therefore its neighbours include Wawel Castle and the Bishop’s Palace. The hotel premises once housed stables and coach buildings belonging to Polish aristocrats. Aside from the throwbacks to a vintage era, it serves up homemade breakfasts and has its own in-house Polish art gallery.
A fusion of elegance, style and atmosphere are the luring traits of the Hotel Stary. This dreamlike abode was the first hotel to win the most beautiful interior design in Europe prize from Prix Villégiature. Beyond these modern charms lies a fascinating history lesson. Outside, Szczepańska Street was home to famous magicians and astrologists such as Paracelsus, John Dee, Edward Kelley and Doctor Faust. Alongside this, in 1838 the owner of Hotel Stary, Piotr Steinkeller, played a major part in the first railway line linking Warsaw to Kraków.
Location-wise Aparthotel Stare Miasto in Old Town is hard to beat – as the name suggests, you’re in the heart of everything. The city remained mostly intact during World War II, so this building maintained its pristine, yet antique appeal. All rooms have original red brick walls and wooden interiors, the same design prevalent on many of Kraków’s notable buildings. It’s a perfect self-catering option with all rooms having a fully equipped kitchenette and an LCD TV.
By staying at the Balthazar Design Hotel on Grodzka Street, you’ll be sleeping in a beautifully refurbished building, dating back to the 1870s. Inside, the modern interior draws its design inspiration from the boutique hotels of New York and London. The in-house restaurant Fiorentina has won awards for its gastronomic delights, while a picturesque garden allows you to relax with a book in the warmer months. You’ll find Kraków’s iconic Wawel Castle right on the doorstep.
In recent years, Kraków’s popularity has resulted in an influx of global hotel chains. Thankfully, many local accommodation gems ensure you can sleep and experience the authentic Kraków. The Betmanowska Residence is located inside an exquisite tenement house, dating back to the 14th century. Treat yourself to a stay in the premium suite, overlooking the main square. The windows in the rest of the apartments contain wonderful stained glass compositions, created by local Krakówian artist, Tadeusz Przybylski.
In the Polish City of Kings, why not indulge in a night at the elegant Wawel Queen Hotel? Modern design in a historic location is the focus here – all rooms contain original wooden beams, alongside the age-old decorative tiles and staircase. As a homage to the hotel’s history, Polish artist Katarzyna Goralczyk contributed portraits of females in various renditions, while every floor has its own colour scheme. The hotel is located halfway between the Old Town square and the castle.
A stay at the Amber Design Residence will feel like a time warp back to Kraków’s pre-World-War-II days. As you walk through the original entrance gate, you’ll notice a colourful terrazzo with a fully restored staircase and a fragment of the wall from the Cistercian Abbot’s house – dating back over 400 years. The hotel walls also feature replicas of paintings by Polish artist Tamara de Lempicka. Feast your eyes on the history all around you before asking staff for the best local tips for exploring the city.