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It’s only a few months ago Raffles Hotels finally added a second European hotel to its portfolio: Istanbul, giving at least some company to until-then solo act the Royal Monceau in Paris. Expansion on the continent will continue though, if in the slightly left-field Polish capital of Warsaw, with the revival of the historic Hotel Europejski, due to open in 2016.
First opened in 1857, the hotel was known as one of the most luxurious in the Russian Empire. Virtually destroyed during World War II, it was rebuilt and eventually reopened in 1962. Closed for years, now the Europejski will be restored to its former glory, with 103 rooms and suites, restaurants, bar, and spa.
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Lovely remote Airbnb in Joshua Tree
It’s taken a while, and a spell at rock bottom, but it’s happened. It’s over. I’m in recovery. I am no longer addicted to Airbnb.
When it launched, I loved the idea of Airbnb. Good hotels are wonderful, of course, but they’re also unaffordable for many people. On the other hand, few things are as dispiriting in travel as staying in a mediocre hotel with uninformed, unmotivated staff. Airbnb promised a local experience with locals who cared. What was not to love?
My first Airbnb hit was in Moscow. In a city where even a budget hotel costs around $300, I stayed in a world-famous Stalinist skyscraper for $130. Sure, there was no hot water but there was history – an infinite amount. (Plus the guy refunded me $80 for the lack of water.)
I went on to have better and better experiences. A stunning midcentury house in Palm Springs – an entire house – for less than a room at the Parker. A cabin on its own 15-acre desert plot in Joshua Tree. A gorgeous apartment in Warsaw.
But this summer I fell out of love.
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Hotel Bristol, your token five star
Warsaw. It may not be top of your European breaks wishlist (hell, it probably loses out to Krakow in your Poland wishlist, too), but it does have one thing going for it – it was recently judged the European city with the cheapest five star hotels.
Actually, there’s far more to say for Warsaw than that. Flights are uniformly cheap (last year we flew from London on Ryanair for £18, or $29 return – yes, total), and while some of the modern city is grim, the Old Town is gorgeous, plus there’s loads of interesting history, the 1944 Uprising Museum and Jewish Museum for starters.
So yes, you definitely want to go to Warsaw. And here are some of our favorite places to stay. They’re not all five star hotels – but then, you can probably find your own five star hotel, right?
We admit, we're borderline gym addicts. We love the muscle machines, the calisthenics classes, the inflatable balls, and hardwood floor studios. And judging from a poll we took last spring, it seems quite a few of you agree.
Which is why, when we were staying with a friend recently in Warsaw, we were glad to be saving money on hotels (for once), but we sorely missed having a nice clean gym to work off all the kielbasa and pierogies. Enter InterContinental Warsaw to the rescue!
For fun, we decided to try out the hotel's fitness center, which, we were delighted to learn upon arrival, sits on the 43rd floor , offering amazing views of the city.
Before heading straight to the gym, though (we were on vacation, what's the rush?), we slipped into a robe and slippers and made a beeline for the indoor pool, which we eventually nicknamed 'the pool in the sky.' Surrounded on three sides by floor to ceiling windows, it was easily one of the nicest hotel pools we've seen in a while. We snapped the above photo of Warsaw's Palace of Culture and Science (or "Palac Kultury i Nauki", if Polish is your thing) standing at the edge of the pool, wary of seeming too touristy, but then again, with a view like that, who cares?
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Up until very recently, one of the top places to stay in Warsaw, Poland was Le Meridien Bristol, a gorgeous landmark building located right in the center of the city. And technically, the Bristol still ranks as one of Warsaw's top hotels, except as of earlier this month, it's going by a new name.
An eight-month, EUR 12 million renovation resulted in several major changes to the property: refreshed guest rooms and public spaces, a new restaurant and wine bar, and, most importantly for SPG members, a re-branding from Le Meridien to Luxury Collection. Ooooh!
As of January 17, the elegant 112-year-old hotel began flying the LC flag, thus joining the ranks of such renowned places as Venice's Hotel Danieli, Manhattan's The Chatwal and Shanghai's brand new Twelve at Hengshan.
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It's hard to believe that one of our favorite parts of the world, Eastern Europe, has only been easy to travel to for the last twenty years – that's how long it is since the Berlin Wall fell, and that's also the reason why Marriott is celebrating with the Marriott's Go East! Package, with specials in five major eastern European cities. We like these deals because they're not just a bed and some food – they also feature some little touches to help you get to know the Cold War historical sides of the cities.
In the city where it all happened, you can stay at the Berlin Marriott Hotel with a Go East! package for €199 ($290) including a double room, breakfast, the Berlin Welcome Card and tickets to the very cool Berlin Wall Museum at Checkpoint Charlie. At the JW Marriott Bucharest Grand Hotel in Romania (pictured), the deal starts at 660 Lei ($226) and gets you a double room, breakfast, 20% off any other food and drinks during your stay, and two tickets to visit the city's Parliament Palace.
We went looking for a place to stay in the Polish capital, Warsaw, and we think that Le Regina will suit us pretty well. Apart from coming up at numero uno on the TripAdvisor ratings, Le Regina just looks cool. It was even named the most prestigious hotel in Poland by Forbes magazine.
It could be a little on the pretentious side, but Le Regina is housed in a gorgeoous Old Town building in central touristy Warsaw, and it's got everything you need from free wireless internet to a pool and sauna. It's nearly too much and there's a chance you'll stay inside instead of exploring Warsaw.
Le Regina is small--just 61 rooms--but still has a plethora of package deals to drag in the customers. We like the Warsaw Diamonds Package which gives you extra-luxury during your stay, including limousine pick-up and special dinner; but it's only valid for stays of 2 nights or longer and you have to arrive on Friday or Saturday. The Diamonds deal will set you back 265 Euro for a double.
· Warsaw is No Prague [HotelChatter]