We arrived at Warsaw Chopin Airport at around 12pm and took the bus into the city. We'd been on the road for quite some time by now and were pretty exhausted, so we were keen to get checked in to our hotel and freshen up a bit.
Our three-night stay in Warsaw was split between one night at the city's iconic Hotel Bristol on the southern side of Warsaw's Old Town, and two nights in an Airbnb apartment that's located not far outside the old city walls.
The Hotel Bristol is a Luxury Collection Hotel under the Starwood umbrella, and a free night here costs 10,000 Starpoints. However, the paid rates on the day were about 450 zł/night (Polish złoty, ~$145), and since I can usually get better value out of Starpoints, I paid cash for our stay.
We took the bus downtown for about 4 zł (~$1.40) and arrived at the Hotel Bristol in about twenty minutes.
The hotel's exterior is charming and prestigious. The neo-renaissance facade fits in well with the rest of the Krakowskie Przedmieście, the busy drag that leads to the Old Town and one of Warsaw's most well-known promenades.
Upon entering the hotel, you are first directed to the check-in area to your left. There are plush seats to relax on while you wait to be helped, and you can help yourself to a fresh towelette and a glass of ice tea as well. I thought this was a fantastic touch.
We were assisted within a couple of minutes and were assigned Room 236, a Classic Room on the second floor. I asked about the possibility of a room upgrade as an SPG Gold Elite member, but I was told that unfortunately there weren't any executive rooms available. Oh well, you win some, you lose some – more reason to aim for Platinum!
The hotel's lobby is simply beautiful. There's a central furniture piece, white marble walls, and a huge chandelier to top it all off.
To get to your room, you can make use of the hotel's gorgeous set of old-fashioned elevators. The elevator cabs themselves have glass walls and allow you to see the interior of the building as you go up or down (there's no elevator shaft). Meanwhile, you'll have a great view of the elevators whizzing up and down if you decide to take the stairs, since the marble steps wrap around the central elevator "column" to get you from floor to floor.
These have to be one of the most unique elevator sets I've seen in a hotel, and needless to say I rode them up and down on more than my fair share of occasions.
Anyway, we came up to the second floor and found our room a short walk down the hallway.
The Classic Room is designed in such a way that upon entering the room, you find yourself in a small foyer of sorts, with a door on each of the other three walls. One door leads to the bedroom, one to the bathroom, and one to an adjoining room. In this way the room kind of feels bigger than it really is, and almost feels like a suite in the sense that the bedroom is a separate room on its own (though of course it's not actually a suite).
I thought the decor in the room was absolutely spot on. The beige finishes, dark panelling with neutral tones, and gold accents perfectly encapsulated the motif of refined luxury that could be felt throughout this 116-year-old hotel.
The Classic Rooms only have enough space for a queen-size bed, which was altogether very comfortable. The room also had a small desk, a large-screen TV, and two large cabinets, which you don't normally see in hotel rooms (I find closet spaces with sliding doors to be much more common). Additionally, you'll find the minibar located under the TV stand.
There were also two very comfortable upholstered chairs and a small table, on which the hotel had prepared for us a welcome amenity, consisting of raspberries, chocolate sauce, and a chocolate cake with the Hotel Bristol logo on it. Delicious!
From our window, we had a good view of the hotel's inner courtyard, and we even bore witness to a small Polish wedding ceremony later that afternoon!
The bathroom is accessible via the small foyer. Like the rest of the room, it's got that luxurious feel, decked out in pristine white marble on all sides. My only minor criticism would be that the shower/tub combo is a bit poorly designed – the glass panel was loose and it was hard to keep water from splashing everywhere.
I must say that this was one of the most visually appealing hotel rooms I've ever stayed in. We didn't end up spending much time in the room, which is a shame because I would've loved to spend a nice and relaxing couple of hours just to kick back in the room and enjoy the ambience. If only Airbnbs in Warsaw weren't so damn cheap, I could've justified staying here for all three nights...
The next day I checked out some of the hotel's other facilities. There's a small fitness centre located on the sixth floor, which had your usual assortment of cardio and strength equipment.
The Column Bar is located adjacent to the main lobby, and is open daily for drinks and snacks. You'll also find a cool bronze bust of Polish pianist-turned-prime-minister, Ignacy Jan Paderewski.
Quick note about the hotel breakfast: it normally costs 120 zł ($42) per person, though we were offered a discounted rate of 80 zł ($28), presumably on account of my Gold Elite status. Nevertheless, I declined the offer, since we could grab something from the Carrefour Express across the road for a fraction of the price.
Also adjacent to the main lobby is a small sun room, from which you can access the hotel's central courtyard. The courtyard itself is lush and tranquil, and it's a great place to sit and enjoy a coffee in the morning.
I later learned more about the history of the hotel, which greatly added to my appreciation of its character. Apparently the hotel had been used as the office of the Chief of the Warsaw District during the German invasion of 1939. It miraculously survived the bombings on Warsaw relatively unscathed, and carried on operating throughout the Communist years before a series of renovations brought the Hotel Bristol back to its glory, first as a Le Méridien property and then as part of the Luxury Collection.
I truly enjoyed my stay at the Hotel Bristol. The hotel's captivating history echoes throughout its well-appointed hallways, and the understated beauty of just about everything – the guest rooms, the lobby, the exterior – conveys the same sense of evolving history as that of the city of Warsaw itself. The word "timeless" is bandied about frivolously but I think it really does apply to the Hotel Bristol. It's without a doubt one of the best hotels in Warsaw, and I would make every effort to stay here again on my next visit.