Decent hotels in Poland tend to be expensive. This is particularly true in large cities like Warsaw and Kraków. The past decade has seen a boom in hotel construction, but most of that has come in the high and high-middle ends of the market in order to cater to the growing amount of business travel to Poland. That means rates will probably be higher than you expect. On the plus side, however, this dependence on business travelers means that hotels often reduce rates on the weekends to fill beds; it never hurts to ask if the rate they are quoting is the best one available. Rates are often also lower if you pre-book over a hotel's website or use hotel booking sites or aggregators like Expedia.com.
"Standard double rooms" are usually understood to mean twin beds; rooms with queen-size beds are often classified as "deluxe" and cost more. Most places now have nonsmoking accommodations, and a growing number of hotels are now mostly or entirely smoke-free.
If you're traveling by car, hotels outside of urban areas usually offer parking for free or for a nominal fee (around 10 z). Within urban areas, such as Warsaw and Kraków, however, hotels sometimes use parking fees as a profit center and charge through the nose. Before agreeing to plunk down as much as 100 z a night for parking at a four- or five-star hotel, it's worth checking to see if there's metered street parking out front or a municipal parking garage nearby for a fraction of the fee. The Sheraton Hotel in Kraków, for example, charges 100 z per night to park in its underground garage, but right next door is the perfectly safe Kraków municipal garage that charges 30 z a night.
In addition to hotels and pensions (pensjonaty), there's no shortage of people offering private accommodations in their homes or flats. This is more common in heavily touristed areas away from larger cities -- in places like Zakopane, for example. Look for the signs saying wolny pokój (free room) or noclegi (lodging) hanging from a house. Prices are lower than hotels, but standards vary considerably. Always take a look at the room first before accepting.
For tips on surfing for hotel deals online, visit www.frommers.com/planning.
Popular Polish Hotel Chains
Many international hotel chains, including InterContinental, Sheraton, Best Western, Marriott, and Radisson, own or operate at least one property in Poland. The following companies maintain chains in Poland with properties around the country:
- Campanile (tel. 331/64-62-59-70; www.campanile.com.pl): French-owned chain that runs hotels under the Kyriad Prestige, Campanile, and Premiere Classe brands. The mid-market Campanile hotels are particularly good value, invariably cheerful, clean, and well-run.
- Likus (tel. 48/12-636-62-10; www.hotel.com.pl): This local luxury group has several five-star hotels in Kraków, including the Copernicus, as well as five-star properties in Wrocaw (Hotel Monopol), Katowice (Hotel Monopol), and Lódz (Grand). If you've got the money, you'll find no finer lodging in the country.
- Orbis (tel. 801/606-606; www.orbis.pl): The former state-owned Polish hotel operator Orbis has hooked up with a French group and now operates hotels under the Novotel, Mercure, IBIS, and Etap brands. Novotels and Mercures tend to be up-market (and occasionally overpriced) affairs, while IBIS hotels are short on personality but big on value. Etap hotels can also be great -- priced like youth hostels, but much cleaner and quieter.
- Qubus (tel. 71/782-87-65; www.qubus.pl): A relatively young Polish chain that aims for the upscale business traveler and has properties in major cities around the country. Qubus hotels invariably have a high standard and are an excellent choice.
- Vienna International (www.vi-hotels.com): Features hip new properties like Andel's and Angelo in Kraków, Lódz, and Katowice, among other locations.