“ Address: UL. Wielpole 4 / Krakow / 31-072 / Poland / Telephone: 0800 181 6068 „
In 2007, Krakow (a UNESCO World Heritage site) is celebrated 750 years since the original creation of its grid-like City, laid out within city walls (though there has been a settlement here for far longer). Although those city walls have gone and the city extends well beyond its original planned layout and it has even merged into other places which used to be separate, you can still see the original planned area and it is still remarkably easy to navigate around.
This lively city is very good value for people paying in £ sterling or Euros, the friendly locals (many of whom speak at least some English) are ready to help, there are many excellent shops, restaurants and pleasant bars and pubs and lots of places to simply sit and people watch.
One of the things I find fascinating is how diverse Europe still is, even after years of the EU and shared media. In mileage, Krakow is not far from Germany but it is a very different place. Whilst there are similarities, you will quickly discern and relish the differences from Prague or Budapest.
Krakow is yet another interesting East European city that really justifies a visit and a weekend break is highly recommended.
Poland lies to the east of Germany, north of the Slovak Republic, south of the Baltic Sea and to the west of Belarus and the Ukraine.
Location and how to get there
Krakow is situated about 290 kilometers south-west from Poland's capital, Warsaw. You can travel by train or road (it is about 1000 miles to drive from London) or you can fly, as I did, to Krakow's airport (Pope John Paul II Airport) which is served from the UK by easyJet and British Airways.
The airport is about 11k from the city and there is a nearby train station from which you can travel cheaply in a journey taking about 15 minutes. I made the mistake of walking from Krakow station to my accommodation (it did not look very far on the map!) and I regretted hauling luggage over cobbled streets. You can get trams or taxis from the railway station readily all over the city.
Krakow is on the banks of the Vistula River and the old part of town is a horseshoe shape with the open end of the horseshoe at the bottom on the river banks (the horseshoe, in fact, is where the old city walls used to be - more about this later).
The Holiday Inn is just outside this horseshoe, only a short distance from the most historic sights (a 10 minute stroll the main Market Square) and this means you are in an excellent location for exploring on foot. Several tram lines also run only 100m away, to connect to wider areas.
Walking off a main, busy street you pass through a car park area (there is a hotel shop on one side) and into the outer lobby (steps up). This is a pleasant seating area with flowers and chairs. Behind this is the lobby bar on the left, mainly full of an Irish stag party the weekend I was there and very smoky. To the right is the reception desk which, whenever I visited, had two or three efficient and pleasant staff on duty, all of whom spoke several languages and who were all happy to help. My reservation was quickly found and I was checked in.
The lifts behind reception serve all floors. The resturant is one floor down and guest rooms are up.
When I visited there were more than 150 guest rooms, mainly the standard room with a number of Executive rooms and a few suites. My room was a standard room and I found it large enough (larger than many city centre hotels rooms), well equipped and comfortable. The room was air conditioned - pleasant in May, probably essential in July and August.
The usual range for a 4* standard business-type hotel, so bathrobe and slippers, a mini bar (as usual, pricey), TV with BBC and some other foreign language services (French, German, Italian, US news), iron and board, a desk/chair/vanity mirror, phone which had message warning and wake up call options. There was a mini-safe. Again, as usual, there was plenty of hanging space for a couple of days visit.
The window looked into an internal courtyard, so some light but no view to speak of. It was fine - I was not there to spend time in the room!
The bathroom had a bath with shower over, a good supply of fresh and fluffy towels and Holiday Inn cosmetics - soap, shampoo etc. Most HI also offer a 'If you forgot' service, where they will supply (FOC) a comb, razor, toothbrush, toothpaste and so on if you have forgotten yours - this hotel did so.
I used the lobby bar only one or twice, but as I said it was pretty much full of Irish stag party revellers when I was there so my experience is probably not typical. It was, at the time, full, busy and slow.
I did not eat lunch or dinner but did have a very good breakfast each morning. A range of hot and cold food with cereal, fruit and juices, hot food from a buffet and some dishes (like fried and poached eggs and omlettes) cooked to order, plentyful coffee or tea served by waiting staff and a good table clearing service. It is impossible to please all the people all the time and I did see a puzzled Spanish lady (trying to find the olive oil to have with her bread, in the Spanish manner) actually take a bottle of olive oil out of a wall display because she could not find any anywhere else. However, there was something for most guests including fish for the Scandinavian type breakfast, sweet rolls and little cakes, fresh, dried and tinned fruit including prunes and figs and so on. I had a great brekfast each day and was not hungry again until dinner.
The efficient and friendly hotel reception staff handled the other queries I had for them very efficiently, finding trips and tours for me (and many other guests) to meet my requirements, inclding having more than one option (for example, cheaper on a big coach, more expensive on a mini bus with fewer people, most expensive but exclusive in a private limo with a driver/guide). They handled this well and my checkout well when I was ready to go.
By the way, the hotel in the car park is an Amber shop. A lot of amber is mined locally and is made into jewellery and collectibles - some nice, some very ordinary, but worth a look.
In March it was my uncle's 50th birthday and he and my auntie asked my parents if we wanted to go somewhere for the weekend. My dad looked for some cheap flights and we booked to go to Krakow, Poland. My dad sorted out the travel and he also booked our accommodation. Having stayed in the Holiday Inn chain on previous holidays we were happy with the choice of hotel. We stayed during the last weekend in February.
The hotel looks nice from the outside and the entrance looks welcoming. Check in was quite smooth although our credit card wasn't accepted despite informing the company of our trip to Poland before we left the UK. The reception staff seemed patient about this and let us use our other credit card - which worked straight away. We were provided with the swipe cards for our rooms and directed towards the lift. Despite their being members of staff taking luggage to the guests room, there was no one around when we were ready to go to our room so we had to take the cases in the lift ourselves.
The reception area is bright and spacious. On entrance to the hotel there is a large table with a big bouquet of fresh flowers, which looked lovely. There was a seating area and the reception desks were a good size. The reception are led to the bar and downstairs to the restaurant.
We paid more for our room and it was larger than my auntie and uncle's because we needed a spare bed in it for me. We were on a different floor to my auntie and uncle but it was easy to get to each room.
Our room was quite large and my parents had a king-size bed. The spare bed for me was really comfortable as it was about the size of a normal single, which I found to be unusual as they are usually smaller. There was a desk and TV in the room as well as a mini bar area, which offered complimentary water, tea and coffee. The drinks and snacks inside the mini bar were quite expensive so we did not purchase any of these. We also got complimentary orange juice in our room, although my auntie and uncle didn't.
The storage space in the room was quite good. The wardrobe had place to hang our clothes as a well a several shelves so all our clothes for the 3 days fitted in quite nicely.
There was also a safe in both rooms, which were free to use. There were instructions about setting up a PIN number, which my dad found quite easy to do (he's good at things like that! :)
We only had a small window in the wall and a skylight on the ceiling. The skylight looked good but the curtains didn't pull completely over it so the light woke us up by shining in our eyes, early in the morning. On the second my parents put cushions in the gap, which helped quite a bit for the next morning. The view from the window was just of a building and wasn't very appealing.
My auntie and uncle's room was smaller than ours and they had two single beds rather than the king-size in our room. They had a better view than we did from their window. They looked out onto the entrance of the hotel. However, it was noisy at night when people were coming back to the hotel after their nights out. Their window was large and they could open it out and stand outside on the (very narrow) balcony.
They also had a TV, desk, good size wardrobe with safe and they also had two chairs and a small table.
The bathroom was clean, though it was quite small. The bath was quite long; I don't like long baths as I slip (I'm not really very tall) so I just had showers. The shower was very powerful and refreshing. There was soap, shampoo, dove body wash (attached to the wall in the bath), shower cap and cotton buds provided complimentary in the bathroom. There was also a heated towel rail.
My auntie and uncle's bathroom was about the same as ours, however they had a window, which looked out onto the front of the hotel. This had a blind on but my auntie was worried people would see her silhouette when she showered. I don't think this would have been the case, as you couldn't see into the rooms from outside.
There were lifts at both sides of the corridors. This meant that you got out on a different part of the corridor depending on the lift that you got into. We generally used the same ones as my auntie and uncle though these were further down the corridor for us.
One morning, one set of the lifts didn't work so we had to use the stairs. We decided to use the lifts nearest us to go to my auntie and uncle's room but when we got out we had to walk down three corridors before we got there so it is definitely worth using the correct lifts.
We phoned their room in a morning before we left for breakfast to let them know we were on our way downstairs. We often stopped on the floor below us as they had pressed the button for the lift.
The only food we ate in the hotel was breakfast. This was a hot and cold buffet with quite a good choice. There was not as much choice as other Holiday Inn's we have been to but it was still nice.
This hotel is in an excellent location. It is right in the city centre and all the main tourist spots, such as Main Market Square, can be reached easily by foot. The hotel is located 15KM from the airport. When we got in the taxi at the airport (we booked it through the hotel) the taxi driver told us that the hotel is very well located and I think this is definitely the case.
Checkout was smooth and easy. As we had to checkout by 12pm and we were not flying until late evening, we asked if they could keep our suitcases for us. This was a fairly easy process and we left the cases in our room for the Bellman to collect. We got them back no problem.
Check-In Time: 2:00 PM
Check-Out Time: 12:00 PM
The room prices vary depending on the room type and when you go but they start from around 110 Euros (current exchange rate is approximately 1.24 Euro to the pound)
I really enjoyed my trip to Krakow and this hotel was comfortable, clean and very well located. If I ever return to Krakow, I would consider this hotel and I would definitely recommend it to others.
Noisy at front of hotel at night
Skylight in our room
Lifts broke down (?)
KRAKOW CITY CENTRE
UL. WIELOPOLE 4
Thanks for reading!
Located in the heart of the old town Krakow.