“And this was Stephen Spielberg’s room while he was filming here”, says Maciej, the manager of the Hotel Monopol Wrocław. He is currently giving us a tour of some of the grandest suites, where the great and the good stay while visiting the city.
We follow him into another, which this time has a luxurious spa bath in the middle of the room with spectacular views of the bustling streets below. “More recently Liam Neeson stayed in this suite,” he adds, before leading us back to our room.
Not only are we learning how the other half live when they visit Wrocław – Poland’s fourth largest city – but that the Monopol is not just your average hotel. Of course Gosia has known this for some time – ever since studying in the city, she has wanted to stay here.
Steeped in history
The hotel was developed by banker Wallenberg Pachaly and architect Karl Grosser. Built on the site of a ruin, where once stood a priory, and next to the 14th century St Dorothy’s Church, the ambitious development would become synonymous with luxury and grandeur.
Opened in 1892, “the pearl of Lower Silesia”, as it was christened at the time, was intended to rival the finest hotels in Europe. Ever since it has attracting the likes of Marlene Dietrich, Pablo Picasso… and of course modern-day movie action stars.
Located on Helena Modrzejewska street, Hotel Monopol Wrocław, has a central location, around a five-minute walk from the city’s Market Square, and next to shops, restaurants, and opposite the historic opera house, which opened in 1841. The neo-baroque style makes the hotel as impressive on the outside as in, with its large, imposing windows, and intricate stone sculptures and columns.
The huge frontdoors swing open to reveal the lobby, which is coated in fine marble and dark wood. On the ground floor is the first of two restaurants, Monopol Wroclaw Restaurant, as well as the Cafe Bar Monopol. On the other side is a light, airy section of the hotel, where a department store once stood, but which was badly bomb damaged in the war. Within this wing of the hotel are the two master suites.
Our room is a double deluxe (room 308) which costs around 500PLN per night (without breakfast). All 121 rooms and suites were individually designed in 2009 during a complete refurbishment, but share the same minimalist design theme, with bare industrial-style concrete walls combined with dark wood, and some trendy art-deco furnishings including wall lights and big leather chairs. The room is huge with high ceilings and floor to ceiling windows, with a centrepiece marble bathroom which takes up half of the space.
Features include a rain shower, heated floor, and whirlpool spa bath– and the L’Occitane products are a nice touch. In the room there is also fresh water– both still and sparkling– which is replaced daily. One thing that’s missing is tea and coffee – an espresso machine would be a welcome addition. Once we are unpacked, it’s on with the bathrobes and a visit to the spa.
There is a small gym, close to the entrance, which has some good, modern equipment. Elsewhere, the spa uses clever lighting – uplighters, spotlights, and simple candles – to create an intimate, relaxing atmosphere, which makes unwinding for a few hours all the more easier.
There is a sauna, where you can still pour water straight onto the coals, and a large, modern steam-room. The 15-metre pool is just about adequate for some laps, and with accompanying jacuzzi, is strikingly lit in contrast to the dark marble surround. The spa also offers facial treatments, body treatments and massages (a classic massage costs 150PLN for 30 minutes).
Hotel Monopol Wrocław has two restaurants. If you are new to Polish food, then the Monopol Wrocław Restaurant on the ground floor could be one of the best places to start, where some classic Polish dishes are given the full à la carte treatment.
Starters, which begin at (27PLN-43PLN), include game terrine with plum chutney; and herring in linseed oil with homemade pickles and sour cream. First courses (30PLN-40PLN), include dumplings with smoked goat cheese, potato and mint; and Pappardelle with mushrooms, parmesan and black truffle.
Mains (65PLN-130PLN) include beef cheeks with potato puree, glazed carrots and kale; and pheasant breast with roasted vegetables with pesto hazelnuts and truffles. Desserts (27PLN-49PLN) include earl grey crème brûlée, apple sorbet and pistachios; and chocolate-hazelnuts tart with vanilla ice cream and muscovado sauce.
But it’s the hotel’s Ristorante Acquario, on the hotel roof with a panorama of the city, which is the one to choose if you are looking for something extra special – plus there is a terrace for a pre-dinner drink.
There’s a four (290PLN with wine), six (395PLN with wine) or eight (485PLN with wine) course taster menu, all prepared under the watchful eye of head chef Mariusz Kozak, who learnt his craft in England, going on to work with one of TV’s most popular celebrity chefs, Gordon Ramsey.
While we might not be able to bring you Gordon’s views on the food, Exceptional Destinations is hoping to post an in-depth review of Hotel Monopol Wrocław’s restaurants later in the year.
Staff and service
The service is of a high standard. Items we request are quickly brought to the room, and staff are efficient and polite. There is a turndown service, which we weren’t expecting; and if required, guests can be picked up and dropped off at the airport and train station for an additional cost.
If you are driving, then you will need to park elsewhere as the hotel doesn’t have a car park (garage), but there is a large car park 50 metres away. Wrocław train station is close by, and a taxi shouldn’t cost more than 15PLN. The airport is 15km from the city centre, and costs around 60PLN in a taxi, but there are also buses which leave regularly.
A few things to do in Wrocław
If you are visiting Wrocław anytime soon, then here are a few suggestions of what to do. Head to the historic Market Square, museum, bars, restaurants, and of course Town Hall (pictured above); pay Wrocław Zoo and aquarium (Africarium) a visit; and hunt for the city’s famous dwarves (read our guide to this unique attraction.)
For further information about Hotel Monopol Wrocław go to https://monopolwroclaw.hotel.com.pl/