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Warsaw - Poland

Needless to say, Warsaw's hotel scene has undergone a drastic makeover since the fall of communism. Whereas before it may have been difficult to find accommodation that satisfied Western standards of comfort and modernity, the last two decades have seen massive investments in state of the art hotels whose unique attributes range from towering architectural attractions to renovated historical masterpieces. These days the amount of hotels aimed at providing the best quality service to tourist, business jet-setter, and backpacker alike is so abundant that the choice is sometimes difficult. The variety ranges from high-end chic to hosteling camaraderie, with several world-class hotels in between.

If money is no object, there is only one place to consider: Le Royal Meridien Bristol, an establishment in a class of its own. Considered one of the best hotels in the world, the Bristol reopened after decades of disuse to reclaim its place as Warsaw's—and indeed Poland's—leading deluxe hotel. Standing along the fantastic Royal Route overlooking the Presidential Palace and amidst other examples of Warsaw's reconstructed 16th century architectural splendor, Le Royal Meridien Bristol is the epitome of classical elegance.

Plenty more luxury hotels abound in the city which pay tribute to the Warsaw's royal history and Poland's legendary hospitality. Among them are the, Hotel Sofitel Victoria a historical landmark in Warsaw which, following major renovations, emerged as Warsaw's first five-star hotel. Located centrally for city exploration, the Sofitel overlooks the Saxon Gardens and is a short and pleasant walk away from the Old Town and the National Opera. The Hyatt Regency is a newer hotel, located in a quiet area nestled between the breathtaking Lazienki Park and downtown, which offers both tourists and business travelers alike a dreamlike stay with its luxurious rooms and Club Oasis Health Centre and Spa. The Hilton Warsaw Hotel & Convention Centre is the newest addition to Warsaw's luxury lineup, where guests can experience world-class drinking and dining, as well as spectacular views of the city. A stay at the Rialto is a carefully crafted five-star experience. As Warsaw's first boutique hotel, the hotel is designed with an Art Déco theme, with each room uniquely furnished with hand-picked antique European furniture and artwork to recreate this stylish period of early the 20th century.

For business travelers, Warsaw has many options in comfortable accommodation equipped with all the necessary high-tech facilities. The Marriott Hotel has sparkled in the heart of the business district and since its arrival on Warsaw's hotel scene as one of the first major hotels in the post-Communist period. At the time, this modern skyscraper set the standard for Western-style service in Warsaw for its international clientele, and since then has enjoyed its reputation as the business hotel of choice. Located directly across from the Palace of Culture, the hotel offers plenty of spacious rooms, meeting spaces, and a Panorama Bar on the 40th floor offers some of the best views in the city.

However, these days the Marriott has some impressive competition. The Sheraton Hotel along the Royal Route has grown popular both for its superb stays and its hip restaurant and bar, popular among locals and visitors for socializing any night of the week. In the busy Centrum, the Holiday Inn is an excellent choice in value and location.

The French-owned Mercure Frederyk Chopin is another fine hotel close to downtown, and a classic choice for tourists and business people alike for its comfortable rooms and ample conference facilities. The Novotel Warszawa Centrum is also popular with tour groups and business travelers, offering plenty of meeting space and a location not to be beat close to buses, trams, and the major city artery at the intersection of Jerozolimskie and Marszalkowskie. For those looking for a convenient stay near the airport, several excellent choices are available. The first view for many visitors arriving in Warsaw by air is at the Courtyard by Marriott , located directly across from the lobby of the Frederic Chopin Airport. This hotel offers top-notch comfort, meeting facilities, and a first-class restaurant. The Airport Hotel Okecie is another good choice for business travelers, offering economical rates and up-to-date facilities. Novotel Warszawa Airport is also very close to the airport, and offers comfortable rooms, an outdoor swimming pool and garden, and all the amenities for a reasonable price.

Another group of hotels, mid-priced and historically interesting, such as the Polonia Palace Hotel, with its original pre-war façade, and the next door Metropol Hotel, an example of late Socialist architecture, attract people eager to have a more authentic experience. Also interesting is the MDM Hotel, situated on the side of a busy downtown square. It has also been undergoing renovation, and offers a fantastic location at a reasonable price.

The Praski Hotel is an fashioned hotel located in the Praga district on the right side of the river. Though modest, it has a great location in this less hailed district of Warsaw, across from the large Park Praski, Warsaw Zoo, and St. Florian's Cathedral. A view of the Vistula River shows the backside of the Royal Castle and Old Town, where La Regina is the only hotel offering a five star historical experience. This hotel is housed a building renovated to the style of an 18th Century palace full of fine artwork, designer interiors and impeccable personal touches that add up to a uniquely sumptuous experience. Its geographic location as the gateway between Eastern and Western Europe makes Warsaw a strategic stopover for backpackers traversing Europe. Travelers will be pleased to find several pleasant options in hosteling that are inexpensive, clean, and quaint social alternatives to hotels. The staff is usually friendly and helpful for those unfamiliar with the city or the language. The Oki Doki is a funky and fun place located in the heart of downtown, putting Warsaw directly at the feet of those backpackers eager to dive into the madness of Centrum without worrying about arranging transportation. Another nice option is Nathan's Villa Hostel, a franchise of clean and friendly hostels throughout Poland that are both inexpensive and great social hubs for those looking to meet other travelers.

The Garden Villa Hostel is located in the quieter district of Mokotów, but offers a quaint garden, amenities like a small bar and WiFi access, and space for up to 60 people in a lovingly renovated pre-war building. Finding the appropriate type of accommodation in Warsaw is now much easier. From the deluxe Bristol to youth hostels, there is now a wide range of selection to choose from. However, it's still wise to book ahead: while many new places are open and ready for business, Warsaw's popularity could mean a shortage of available spaces for that perfect experience.

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