24-Hour Room Service: Hotel Rialto, Warsaw
Saturday 15 May 2004
Warsaw has long been the preserve of the large five-star hotel chain - think Marriot, Sheraton
et al. However, with the opening towards the end of last year of the Art Deco-style Hotel Rialto, the Polish capital gained its first, and long overdue, boutique hotel. Add to that the launch of low-cost flights from the city to the UK and now Poland's much heralded entry to the European Union, and the Polish capital has never looked a more appealing weekend break destination.
Warsaw has long been the preserve of the large five-star hotel chain - think Marriot, Sheraton et al. However, with the opening towards the end of last year of the Art Deco-style Hotel Rialto, the Polish capital gained its first, and long overdue, boutique hotel. Add to that the launch of low-cost flights from the city to the UK and now Poland's much heralded entry to the European Union, and the Polish capital has never looked a more appealing weekend break destination.
Not that it should ever have had problems attracting visitors. Although the city was systematically flattened by the Germans at the end of the Second World War, the Russians painstakingly rebuilt the old town. As such it's not the ugly concrete eyesore you might expect. In fact, the city is an intriguing mix of architectural styles. The restored historic centre is a maze of cobbled alleyways and pastel painted façades, the 19th-century boulevard, Nowy Swiat, is lined with boutiques and cafés, while love it or hate it, the Stalinist Palace of Culture and Science, dominates the skyline.
Meanwhile, down a narrow street on the edge of the business district lies a gem dating back to the turn of the 20th century. The Hotel Rialto is a remodelled townhouse with 44 individually designed rooms. It's also home to the hottest restaurant in town, run by the Swiss celebrity chef, Kurt Scheller.
Time to international airport: a taxi from the airport to the city takes about half an hour and costs around €15 (£10.50)
The rooms are furnished with original pieces from the Twenties and Thirties, while the doors are opened with huge Art Deco-style keys - with a modern touch. You run the keys down the side of the door rather than insert them in the lock. I was in room 47, one of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh-inspired mini-suites - all blond parquet flooring and beige fabrics. Through the small entrance hall with its silver hat stand and ornate mirror was a compact living room decked out with glass lamp shades in pink, white and silver, and an angular wooden sofa with beige velvet cushions against the slatted back. The small bedroom through inlaid double doors had an original Art Deco bed draped in custom-made Italian linen, a high-backed wooden chair with beige and pink striped velvet seat and original Rennie Mackintosh wardrobe. Through yet more double doors was the bathroom with marble floor and mosaic tiling in cream and lavender, free standing bath and shower with rain shower head.
Freebies: Etro shampoo, shower gel, soap and body lotion
Keeping in touch: direct-dial telephone, flat plasma-screen TV on the wall of the bedroom and living room. There are DVDs and CDs in the Cigar room downstairs.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Rooms cost from €262 (£187) to €417 (£298) including breakfast.
I'm not paying that: For a reliable value option head to the Hotel Ibis (9) aleje Solidarnosci 165 (00 48 22 520 3000, www.ibishotel.com); plain but pristine doubles cost from 261 Polish zloty (£36.50) including breakfast.
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