24-Hour Room Service: Hotel Copernicus Krakow, Poland

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The Independent Travel

Copper Knickers, as Krakow's first boutique hotel is irreverently known by Poland's expat community, takes its name from one of its more illustrious past guests.

Copper Knickers, as Krakow's first boutique hotel is irreverently known by Poland's expat community, takes its name from one of its more illustrious past guests. Nicolaus Copernicus, the 16th-century Polish astronomer, turned accepted thought on its head by suggesting that the Earth orbited the sun. Five hundred years ago the building was a private residence, and today it sits amid a jumble of Renaissance gems on the tiny cobbled street of Kanonicza at the foot of the castle.

Its conversion into contemporary hotel unearthed frescoes from the 16th century and 14th-century painted wooden ceilings, all of which have been incorporated into the building's redesign. Down in the basement is an eerily lit swimming-pool beneath a curved brick ceiling, a sauna and well-stocked wine cellar. On the ground floor, the airy atrium courtyard that spirals up to the glass roof also serves as the dining room and piano bar. A glass lift whisks you up to three floors of rooms. In the summer a roof terrace is open for drinks among the church spires and medieval rooftops.

LOCATION

Hotel Corpernicus, Kanonicza 16, Krakow 31-0002 Poland (00 48 12 424 3400; www.hotel.com.pl).

Time from international airport: the taxi ride to Krakow airport takes around half an hour and should cost around 60 Polish zlotys (£10).

COMFORTABLE?

It's a bit of a lucky dip; there are eight suites, 17 double rooms and four singles. Some open on to the internal courtyard so have no outward-facing windows. The deluxe suite is on the ground floor right next to the front door and reception, so although large, it is also noisy. The best options seem to be those on the first and second floors, which have huge windows that look out over the street. Our room in the eaves on the third floor felt a bit claustrophobic - its two skylights provided most of the light, while if we opened one of the two tiny foot-height windows we could just catch a neck-craning glimpse of the castle. The rooms are quite monastic in style, with polished floors, plain wooden beds and high-backed leather chairs. The green velvet bedspreads provided the only splash of colour, but our bed was not particularly comfortable and had hard foam pillows.

Freebies: delicious L'Occitane toiletries - soap, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and body lotion

THE BOTTOM LINE

Singles start at 750 zlotys (£125), doubles from 850 zlotys (£142) and suites from 1,200 zlotys (£200), with breakfast.

I'm not paying that: Wentzl Hotel, Rynek Glowny 19 (00 48 12 430 2664; www.wentzl.pl) in a 15th-century house on the main square has doubles from 450 zlotys (£75), with breakfast.

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