World Traveller September 2019

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LONG WEEKEND

With its cobbled streets, horse-drawn carriages and

Cinderella castles, Kraków’s fairy-tale credentials

are obvious, but these old-world charms are

just part of the city’s appeal. Vestiges of the

different eras that have defined Kraków through

the centuries offer visitors an opportunity to

explore one of Eastern Europe’s most fascinating

cities, from the mediaeval monuments of the old

town and Renaissance palaces along Florianska

Street, to the communist architecture of Nowa

Huta and everything in-between. There’s a lively

contemporary arts community that hosts a busy

calendar of events and a diverse café culture and

foodie scene that ranges from budget-friendly milk

bars to high-end restaurants serving the finest Polish

cuisine. Viewpoints abound from castle towers and

church spires while, at street level, there are twisting

alleyways and sprawling piazzas to take in.

Kraków’s oldest hotel,

the Pod Róza, is located

just off the Market

Square and features 57

beautifully appointed

rooms renovated in

keeping with their historic

character. Antique

furniture is balanced

with modern comforts,

from gleaming marble

bathrooms to frescoed

walls and polishedwood

floors that set the

Renaissance tone in this

surprisingly budgetfriendly

option. Guests

can dine on Tuscan food

at Amarone downstairs

or international and

contemporary Polish

cuisine in the hotel’s

second restaurant. Not

far from here, another

mid-size hotel, the Unicus

Palace, offers a five-star

retreat complete with

swimming pool and

Jacuzzi to unwind after a

day of sightseeing. Inside

the old building, the décor

is modern and minimalist,

with large comfortable

beds and a friendly front

desk, where staff go

out of their way to offer

A BED FOR THE AGES

Characterful abodes abound

in a city steeped in history

advice. The Grand Hotel

in the Old Town was once

a favourite among the

city’s literati, described

as the “most modern and

luxurious hotel in town”,

when it opened in 1887.

Drink in the ambience at

the hotel’s Vienna Café

and browse the pictures

of many former famous

guests on the walls. The 29

rooms at Hotel Copernicus

are a fabulous mid-range

option in a beautiful building

that dates back to the

1500s. Guests can also take

an atmospheric dip in the

hotel’s unique subterranean

swimming pool, which was

built under the arches in

mediaeval cellars.

café

culture

When Kraków was under

Austrian influence it

became common to see

Viennese-style coffee

houses around the city.

Today, Kraków has

developed a distinctive

café culture of its own,

with spots like Bunkier,

which adjoins the famous

Bunkier Sztuki Gallery.

This is a popular venue

in its own right, partly

due to the garden, where

transparent walls are

raised in the winter to

allow guests to sip their

coffee year-round.

Wesola Café is a small,

intimate space where the

smell of crushed coffee

beans drifts through the

door upon opening. For

somewhere to kick back

with a good book in hand,

Massolit Books and Café

is the obvious choice.

Cosy, comfy and complete

with a well-stocked library

of mainly-English books,

it’s easy to while away

a rainy afternoon in this

charming retreat.

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