A royal room with a view
We arrived home from Poland just days before the country went into lockdown due to the coronavirus.
From Sunday, March 15, for a fortnight its government closed all its borders and banned all flights to and from Poland.
We came back to a wet and cold Nailsea on Monday, March 9, when foremost in our minds was if we would be able to buy any loo paper.
Those first frivolous thoughts have since been swapped to worrying initially about our family – their health and jobs – before focussing our concern for the future of everyone worldwide.
But having said this it hasn’t stopped me wanting to share our six days of happiness in the historic city of Kraków.
The old town of Kraków – pronounced crack-off – is an architectural gem steeped in history and until 1596 the capital of Poland.
Our fabulous five- star hotel, The Bonerowski Palace, dates from the 13th century and is in a prime location on the corner of Świętego Jana Street and the Old Market Square.
The blurb says it has been ‘meticulously restored and richly refurbished’ however, the refurbishment on the ground floor was still going on when we arrived (no prior notice of this) and when four members of staff got stuck in the lift for half an hour on day one we mostly had to use the stairs to our second floor suite – see photos.
It kept us fit unlike the advertised ’luxury spa’ which I never found open and the receptionist said was more like a ‘well-being centre’ – I think this refers to being on the third floor and with no lift you certainly feel a lot healthier for the climb? I did pick up a leaflet for a massage on desk outside!
Our upgrade to the best room(s) in the house – an apartment with a grand piano in the corner of one room - could have been due to the limited number of other guests staying out-of-season.
It was fantastic and from our balcony we could almost touch St Mary's Basilica and hear the bugle call from its highest tower but with triple glazing I can’t vouch that is was played every hour on the hour.
The hotel staff were the best we had ever encountered, nothing was too much trouble, running up the stairs with fresh milk to booking art centre film tickets, from finding us an electric cab to go sightseeing to sorting out return taxi to airport and then leaving us alone on hangover day (slightly embarrassed but too many Porn Star martinis).
For the uninitiated the cocktail is made with vanilla-flavoured vodka, Passoã,passion fruit liqueur and lime juice. It is traditionally served with a accompanying chilled shot of Prosecco.
We decided we will definitely go back and stay here.
The entire medieval old town is among the first sites chosen for the UNESCO's original World Heritage List and in the height of summer is usually wall-to-wall people.
I would equate the line of colourful horse-drawn carriages you could see from the hotel to the gondolas of Venice – a tourist attraction for those with money to spend, and your money goes a long way in Kraków.
The glamorous women dressed in black riding gear with top hats act like the sirens of Greek mythology to lure tourists (mostly males on stag parties and there were a few) to sample their wares. We were told they were often replaced at the last moment by an elderly coachman.
The weather for March during our stay was unusually warm and we met friendly fellow travellers from Bath, Beckenham, Kendal and Northern Ireland on our sight-seeing trips.
We walked around the castle and cathedral and would advise pre-booking online as all the attractions get busy, especially in high season.
On arrival from lovely Bristol Airport we went straight to the ATM at Kraków Airport and withdrew our Polish Zloty to pay the official taxi driver – a mere £23 half hour drive one-way.
HOTEL HEAVEN: Top looking at hotel from market square and slideshow of our beautfiul The Bonerowski Palace
To date our favourite city has been the child-friendly Stockholm in Sweden but Krakow has knocked it off my top spot and it isn’t just because the alcohol is much, much cheaper.
Unlike Stockholm with its double nay treble doors to keep the outside outside Krakow has steel shoe grates at its entrances and at the Bonerowski Palace Hotel the concierge staff armed with a carpet sweeper constantly brush the red welcome mat.
This is a clean, friendly city where all the young seem to speak English and the older people speak Russian – the Polish people we met didn’t seem to like either the Germans or those from the former Soviet Union but they had good reason.
What you notice first though is the city’s lack of diversity - it’s not multi-cultural in the slightest, not does it embrace ‘access for all’ – uneven steps, lack of handrails and an investment in more signage would be helpful.
There is no litter though but city is plagued with graffiti tags.
We travelled with easyJet and booked a suite at hotel for six days, five nights room only and the total cost of flights and accommodation was £1,131.58.
We ate breakfast at hotel on three mornings at an additional cost of PLN Polish Zloty 75 each - about £15.
Carol Deacon with a little help from husband Rob Deacon