Warsaw might be the political capital of Poland, but Krakow enjoys an unspoiled architectural legacy and educational standing that make it the country's cultural center. Lining the city's narrow medieval streets are a selection of attractive boutique hotels. Often occupying truly historic buildings, these lodgings enable visitors to enjoy the city's attractions from a cozy, small hotel setting.
The peak travel period in Krakow extends from the beginning of April through the end of October, so travelers in search of off-season bargains must inevitably suffer wet, cold weather. Furthermore, accordingly to Fodor's, the expansion of the hotel sector in Krakow is only just keeping pace with the growth of tourism, and the city sees plenty of convention/conference visitors over the winter. The result is that the off-season remains busy, rates see only a modest discounts, and visitors should seek advance reservations year-round.
The sole Fodor's Choice hotel for Krakow, the Grodek is a boutique hotel set on a cul-de-sac next to the Dominican Convent and 300 yards from the main square. Each of the 23 guest rooms are individually and thoughtfully decorated in styles ranging from Chinese to Victorian, with all rooms enjoying plush, comfortable furniture. For its public spaces, the Grodek mixes a thoroughly contemporary restaurant with a wood-paneled library and bar reminiscent of an old-fashioned British men's club. All rooms come with heated bathroom floors, satellite TV, free Wi-Fi Internet, and electric kettles for coffee and tea.
According to Frommer's, the Copernicus is generally thought of as the best hotel in Krakow and "certainly the best of the boutique-size properties." Adapted from a late-Medieval tenement house, the hotel retains frescos and other detailing from the 16th century, thoroughly immersing guests in the environs of Krakow's historic district. The guest rooms, however, are appointed with plenty of dark wood furnishings and outfitted in a thoroughly contemporary fashion. Local legend has it that the namesake mathematician Copernicus once stayed in the building, although that remains unsubstantiated. Among its features, the hotel property includes a spa including a sauna and a small swimming pool.
Hotel Pod Roza
Described by Conde Nast Traveler as "one of the most elegant and charming hotels in the city," the Hotel Pod Roza is housed in a 14th-century building that once played host to a Russian Tsar and the composer Chopin. The hotel's spacious rooms feature high ceilings and plain wood floors and come furnished in a style that blends 19th century with Euro-modern sensibilities. The location is in the city's historic district on the fashionable shopping strip of Florianska Street. The hotel has two restaurants -- an Italian restaurant and a continental restaurant -- the latter of which received an endorsement from the Michelin Guide. Furthermore, the mutual wine list for this pair of eateries was given high marks by the Wine Spectator.