A bed for the night in Krakow

Where is it?

Within walking distance of the medieval wonders and haute-cuisine of Krakow's fabulous ancient city.

Describe the setting

Set in Krakow's oldest street, Kanonicza, Hotel Copernicus's somewhat stolid facade is a portal to unimagined Gothic charms. This three-storied, 15th-century former church house is overlooked by an extravagant Renaissance castle on Wawel Hill, which was the home of Polish kings for a millennium.

Does it have a USP?

Outside of a night spent in a museum, where else can you enjoy your own personal viewing of a 16th-century fresco within the confines of your bedroom walls? And the hotel's eclectic fusion of Gothic and 21st-century chic is a work of art in itself.

Comfort factor?

On entering my cavernous suite, first impressions were of an austerity perhaps befitting the 15th-century: polished oak floors, a high-beamed ceiling, and a bed with a headboard the size of a drawbridge. But as soon as I'd sunk into the comfortable king-sized bed, eschewed the thoughtfully hidden modern conveniences like satellite television, and switched on the room's carefully placed chrome up-lighters, I relaxed into a state of medieval bliss in the divine company of my masterpiece-for-a-night, a superb fresco: "The Four Fathers of the Church" (painted 1500).

What's in the bathroom?

I couldn't decide whether I should baptise or wash myself in the huge travertine font of a washbasin. And the modern Jacuzzi-shower simply couldn't compete with lazing in the candlelit bath, staring up through the bathroom's false glass ceiling at the original Gothic-vaulted one above it.

I'm hungry?

Not a feeling that will persist after the vast Teutonic buffet breakfast served in the stunning courtyard of the old atrium - which is now shielded from the elements by a glass and chrome roof. Krakow has a dizzying selection of excellent gourmet haunts, though very few rival Copernicus's small, formal restaurant. Under a Renaissance-coffered ceiling, local specialities such as wild mushrooms, game, pierogi and the ubiquitous Cracovian torte all receive thoroughly modern re-interpretations.

What are the people like?

Nicolaus Copernicus was known to have been a frequent visitor here 600 years ago on church business. Nowadays, the clientele seemed to be well-heeled German businessmen, with just a smattering of tourists who have discovered the charms of this newly opened hotel.

Local interest

Five minutes' walk through the medieval alleyways and you arrive in Krakow's immense square, Rynek Glowny. Ringed by cafés, it's a great place to watch the world pass by after you've explored some of the treasures of the square's Gothic and Baroque churches, or indulged in a spot of shopping within the immense 17th-century Renaissance Sukiennice.

Access for all?

There are no specific concessions within the rooms for wheelchair-users, although once inside the hotel the atrium and rooms are comfortably accessible via a spacious lift.

What's the damage?

Standard double rooms plus breakfast start from 750 zlotys (£120) per room per night. The suites start from 1100 zlotys (£180) per night.


Hotel Copernicus, ul Kanonicza 16, Krakow 31-002, Poland (0048 12 4243400; www.hotel.com.pl).