Recently I spent three nights in Krakow, Poland at two hotels. I’ll be reviewing four hotels in Krakow, based on my stays and their location relative to where you want to spend time in the city.
Before I get to that, let me say that I highly recommend a trip to Krakow. First of all, it’s in Poland which I found to be inexpensive, full of delicious food, and brimming with attractive people who spoke some English.
Of course, the English is not as strong as in western or northern Europe. Also, the younger the person, the better his English will be generally as the older folks are more likely to have learned Russian. But the English was passable, and being a native English speaker makes you someone people want to talk to and help in Poland.
The specific highlights of Krakow are a beautiful Old Town, an amazing urban river with walking and biking trails, and its proximity to Auschwitz, which can be seen on a day trip. Auschwitz is one of the most moving places I’ve been, and I recommend a trip there for anyone interested in history or psychology.
Here’s a map of Krakow with my annotations.
Pink Circle = Krakow Old Town
I spent most of my time in Krakow inside the pink circle–the Old Town. That isn’t the only cool bit of Krakow–I also spent time in Kazimierz and along the Vistula–but it is the most beautiful area and the area with the best restaurants, bars, and architecture.
The hotels I’ll discuss are the X’s. The Holiday Inn is red, the Radisson Blu is blue, the Sheraton is green, and the Park Inn is black.
Holiday Inn: Krakow City Centre, red X
Note: There is also a “Holiday Inn Express: Krakow,” which is inferior and farther away from the center.
I spent two non-consecutive nights at this hotel, and I very much enjoyed its location and welcome package. It’s amenities were adequate.
Upon arriving in Krakow, I walked the 500 meters from the train station (pictured on the map as the blue train icon) to the Holiday Inn. The hotel is also three blocks from the central plaza, near the river, and close to the Kazimierz district, so the location is impeccable.
Upon check-in I was given a card for one free drink at the bar, so this hotel starts strong. When I entered the room, more surprises awaited, a complimentary box of chocolates and a thank-you letter.
free drink card, free chocolate, free thank-you note
The room itself had two twin beds. I’m sure a better room was available, but I spent less than one waking hour in the room.
two small beds, table, desk, and TV
The bathroom was big and clean, again what you would expect, but nothing impressive.
My main complaint at the hotel was the internet. There was no wireless internet in the rooms. The wired internet was free, but only if you chose the slower speed. The slower speed was fine for browsing, but not suitable for downloading videos or uploading photos, and the high-speed internet cost $10 per day.
The Holiday Inn did have a small fitness center with free access.
In August, a night at the Holiday Inn is going for $160 or 20,000 Priority Club points or 10,000 Priority Club points and $70. Of course, Priority Club points can be purchased for 0.7 cents each, so if you want to minimize the cash outlay, purchase all 20,000 points for $140.
Park Inn, black X
The Park Inn’s location is much worse than the other three I’ll be talking about. It’s a full kilometer from the Old Town and across the river. It’s nice to be near the river, but it’s not that much closer than several of the other hotels.
One kilometer is obviously not too far of a walk, but it makes it tough to pop back and forth between the hotel and the sights multiple times in a day.
one bag, two beds, a table, and a TV
The interior of my Park Inn room was almost identical to my Holiday Inn room: two tiny beds, a TV, a desk, and a chair. I did prefer the Park Inn bathroom, which featured a shower instead of the tub-plus-shower-head that the Holiday Inn had.
The Park Inn did have free, wireless, high-speed internet.
A night at the Park Inn in August is going for $138 or 28,000 Gold Points or 5,000 Gold Points and $81. Gold Points aren’t as valuable as many currencies, so the cash and points option which gets over one cent per point is the best option among the three.
Sheraton, green X
The Sheraton is at a very interesting spot, at a bend in the Vistula, facing the river such that it looks like the river is coming right at the hotel. It’s an incredible view. The hotel is also right next to the Wawel Castle, which is one of the coolest sites in Krakow. The Sheraton is a few steps farther away from the Old Town than the Radisson Blu and Holiday Inn, so I would rate its location as slightly worse than theirs.
I didn’t stay here, so I don’t have any inside info. I’m sure the services are commensurate with what you expect from a Sheraton, and it has a heated indoor pool and a gym.
The Sheraton has free, high-speed, wireless internet.
A night at the Sheraton in August goes for $165 or 7,000 Starpoints or 2,800 Starpoints and $45. The cash and points option gets over 4 cents per point.
Radisson Blu, blue X
The Radisson Blu is at a great location, definitely my favorite of all the hotels in Krakow. It’s right across from a park that connects to the Old Town.
The Radisson Blu has a fitness center with free access. And it has free, wireless internet in all rooms.
Overall Club Carlson considers the Radisson Blu to be a much nicer property than the Park Inn, and who am I to disagree. Considering its awesome location, this is probably the top place to stay in Krakow.
A night at the Radisson Blu in August goes for $146 or 44,000 Gold Points, with no cash-and-points option. That’s only about 0.3 cents per Gold Point, so I would not make a points redemption at this low cash price.
The best view is the Sheraton, but the best property and location belong to the Radisson Blu. At these cash prices, I would definitely stay at the Radisson Blu. For redemptions, the cash-and-points redemption at the Sheraton is a great value.
I stayed at the Holiday Inn mainly because I got it for $35 per night because it was on the PointBreaks list. Under no foreseeable circumstances would I stay at the Park Inn again. The location is bad, and it is only $8 cheaper than the superior Radisson Blu. The only reason I did stay at the Park Inn was that the Radisson Blu was much more expensive while I was in town, and I wanted to collect the huge 44,000 point bonus for a one night stay at the Park Inn.
Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows I am a couch-surfing, hostel-staying vagabond, and none of these hotels changed that about me.