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ul. Kanonicza 16, Krakow, Poland
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A Hotel in Krakow Where a Famous Astronomer Visited
January 21, 2010
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Last week I visited Krakow with my husband who had to go to the city on business. To my surprise my husband had booked a hotel for the evening in case the snowy weather deteriorated.The hotel we stayed in for one evening only was the Hotel ...
Last week I visited Krakow with my husband who had to go to the city on business. To my surprise my husband had booked a hotel for the evening in case the snowy weather deteriorated.The hotel we stayed in for one evening only was the Hotel Copernicus.
The standard of hotels in Poland can vary so much from city to city. However, the beauty of this building surpassed anything I imagined as did the romantic situation. I felt like Lady Guinevere being led into her castle by her handsome Knight for the night.
The hotel named after Torun's famous astronomer, Nicholas Copernicus who I often affectionately refer to as Copper Knickers is situated in a stunning location nestled at the foot of that magnificent building that was the residence of Polish Kings for centuries - the Royal Castle. Its Gothic facade spreads out onto the newly renovated Kanonicza Street which years ago housed many a bishop and church official and even Pope John Paul II when he was a young boy. The street adorned with Renaissance townhouses has its own feeling of sleepiness and of another time when life was possibly more tranquil. At night the street and building take on an amazing purple and golden glow.
Inside the interiors have been restored using old and new materials. Beamed ceilings, marble features, drapes made from the finest and softest velvets and furniture made from solid oak and burnt walnut giving public areas and private rooms a period feel. Frescoes are delightfully painted in pastel shades portraying life in Krakow in medieval times.
Standing on the ground floor looking up to the mezzanine floors is enthralling. Windows on each side of the hotel's tower gleam with fragmented shadows sent forth from the skies above the glass ceiling. Wild ferns trail from wooden balconies and staircases leading to the different floors are highly polished with intricate wrought iron balustrades decorated with flourishes of cobalt blue.
My husband booked a double room online and paid using his credit card. The booking was confirmed by e-mail. Reception staff that were on hand the evening we arrived were young, enthusiastic and very welcoming. English is spoken as well as Polish and German.
Out of the 29 rooms which include singles, doubles, several different sizes of suites we chose a double room. Some doubles have single beds but we chose one with a double bed. Double rooms can be located on three floors and our room was situated on the second floor.
Unfortunately we didn't have a view of Kanonicza Street. For a glimpse of this royal street sparkling in the snow you would have to pay somewhere in the region of 980 zloty (approx £200) and is classed as a luxury double room. Still, our room was luxurious enough and the view from the double draped windows was of the hotel patio which was quite stunning; a spatial view of a glass covered courtyard where small galleries are specifically placed at each side of the spiral staircases. Light bounces from Renaissance windows on to cornfield yellow walls, finally falling to the marbled tiles of the atrium's floor.
The room itself had a feeling of homeliness probably because the colour of the walls was the same as my bedroom in my flat - terracotta and the floors were parquet with the odd Indian rug placed strategically at both sides of the bed just in case your feet get cold; just like home. Whereas in my flat the room is modern and totally abstract our hotel room was just the opposite. With the solid well designed dark, very nearly burnt walnut furniture which simply consisted of a double bed with a very large headboard and a corresponding board at the foot of the bed, a double wardrobe, table, two armchairs deliciously covered in soft red leather. Around the top edge of the walls was a hand painted border of Irises. Each petal of these delicate flowers was beautifully illustrated and painted in a deep rich purple. A soft amber velvet cover was beautifully placed on the top of the bed. That's all the room consisted of but it was so perfectly balanced in colour and design nothing else was needed except the last finishing touch - a large hand cut crystal vase of purple irises which sat next to an art nouvea reading lamp on a walnut table next to my side of the bed.
Moving through the heaviest of doors I came to the ensuite bathroom. A sea of white and pale ochre Italian marble with a wood panelled floor in a light shade of honey coloured pine. The bath was large and situated in the corner of what I thought was a very large bathroom. The wash basin was at the opposite end of the bathroom and it was placed on a marble plinth with a huge glass mirror hung above the shiniest taps I have ever encountered. At the side was a small marble table decorated with an ancient vase of red roses and a basket of toiletries bearing the name of Copernicus and not Copper Knickers. Hot water steamed as it flowed from the taps and towels were white and soft like the wings of a fantail dove. The room was delightful.
Breakfast was served in the Hotel Patio and was buffet style presented on a long table decorated with flowers. We don't really do breakfast apart from copious amounts of coffee but I did try a bowl of fresh fruit salad which was refreshing to the palette. I noticed that there was also a good selection of dried fruits. These would be nice added to the various cereals on offer. Smoked salmon, sliced ham - smoked and unsmoked, freshly baked bread and soft croissants were available as well as a full cooked breakfast if you were really hungry.
The Copernicus restaurant has a good reputation but we didn't eat there because looking at the menu the prices seeemed high even though the scrumptious meal descriptions were very tempting. We had already decided that we were going to eat in the town and go French for the night.
Back to the Copernicus restaurant - it is an elegant room with frescoes on the walls and ceilings in Renaissance style. It seems that the restuarant has won many prizes and been recognised by Michelin and you will find it in the 2009 edition if you are an avid follower of this influential guide. Looking at the dishes listed I could see a sophisticated cuisine with Polish accents mixed with Italian and French.
Included in the price which I will tell you in a moment is the use of the swimming pool and spa. This world of health and fitness can be located in the cellars of the hotel. The red brick vaults of this medieval building have been carefully designed to make you feel cosy and uplift your spirits as well as breaking into a sweat. Spas aren't my thing but I did have a peek at the facilities. I liked the design of the these well- being rooms - lots of turquoise and aqua marine swirls on rustic brick walls. The swimming pool I did try. Not the widest of pools but very long. A pleasant enough experience and the water was warm although I felt a little unnerved at being closed in, in an underground Gothic chamber.
The hotel has a terrace which is on the top of the roof. The temperatures on the day we stayed in the Copernicus were only a mere - 8 which is quite mild compared with Warsaw so I took it upon myself to brave the elements and go and have a peep at the terrace. Oh boy! What a view! You can see the whole city but the two images that really stand out are the Wavel Royal Castle perched high upon its limestone hill and the beautiful dome of St Peter and Paul's Church. I didn't go up to the terrace at night but I should think the 360 degree view is one in a million - a myriad of twinkling lights. Very impressive indeed.
The price of a double room in the Hotel Copernicus includes breakfast served in the patio, free use of Internet which is quick, cloakroom, laundry service and use of the spa and swimming pool. The price is normally 900 zloty which is approximately about £180. Luckily, my husband only paid 600 zloty (£120) as there is a special offer on at the moment throughout January and February. I don't think that is a bad price because this is a quality hotel in a great location, filled with history.
The word I am going to use to describe the hotel where Copernicus visited when he was a young canon is fantastyczny - that's Polish for fantastic.
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