Poland has a wide choice of accommodation to suit all budgets. Advanced booking is recommended for popular destinations such as Kraków, Zakopane and Gdańsk.
- Hotels Hotels account for the majority of accommodation in Poland, encompassing a variety of old and new places, ranging from basic to ultraplush.
- Pensions Pensjonaty (pensions) are small, privately run guesthouses that provide breakfast and occasionally half or full board. They are generally clean, comfortable and good value.
- Hostels Polish hostels include both the newer breed of privately owned hostels and the older, publicly run or municipal hostels. There are also simple, rustic mountain lodges.
- Warsaw is the most expensive place to stay, followed by Kraków, Gdańsk and Wrocław. The further away from the big cities you go, the cheaper accommodation gets.
- Watch for seasonal fluctuations in rates. Summer resorts, particularly on the Baltic coast or in the mountains, have higher prices in July and August. Ski centres increase prices in winter, particularly over the Christmas and New Year holidays.
- Hotels in large cities often offer discounts on the weekend. Similarly, resort properties may offer lower room rates during the week.
- Prices normally include breakfast but not parking, which can range from 10zł a night in smaller properties to 100zł a night for garaged parking in Warsaw and Kraków.
- Room rates include VAT and should be the final price you pay. A small number of municipalities levy a tourist tax on lodging, but this seldom costs more than around 2zł a night per room.
- Prices are quoted in złoty, though some larger hotels geared to foreign clients may also quote rates in euros. All hotels accept złoty as payment.
Types of Rooms
Polish hotels offer a standard mix of rooms, including singles, doubles, and apartments or suites. Often hotels will also have rooms for three or four people. Hotels normally display a sign at the reception desk, listing the types of rooms and prices. Look for the following:
|single room||pokój 1-osobowy|
|double room||pokój 2-osobowy|
|with bathroom||z łazienką|
|without bathroom||bez łazienki|
|basin in room only||z umywalką|
- Prices for double rooms may vary depending on whether the room offers twin beds or one full-sized bed, with the latter generally more expensive.
- Some properties do not have dedicated single rooms, but may offer a double at a reduced rate. It never hurts to ask.
Hotels account for the majority of accommodation options in Poland, encompassing a variety of old and new places, ranging from basic to ultra-plush.
At the top end are various international and Polish hotel chains that offer high-standard accommodation to a mostly business-oriented clientele, usually at prices aimed at corporate expense accounts.
Going down the chain, there are plenty of smaller, privately owned hotels that cater to the midrange market. Many are very nice and represent excellent value, but it always pays to check the room before accepting an offer. Rates vary, but expect to pay around 160zł for a single and from 190zł for a double room.
Pensjonaty (pensions) are small, privately run guesthouses that provide breakfast and occasionally half or full board. By and large, these are clean, comfortable and good value.
While prices vary depending on the location and comfort, they are usually cheaper than comparable hotels. Singles/doubles typically run around 130/170zł. We’re big fans of Polish pensions. Our only gripe is that breakfast buffets can sometimes lack imagination (mostly simple ham and cheese plates) and they often have only instant coffee.
Polish hostels include both the newer breed of privately owned hostels and the older, publicly run or municipal hostels. There are big differences. There are also simple, rustic mountain lodges operated by PTTK (Polish Tourist & Sightseeing Association).
You will usually only find these in cities like Kraków, Warsaw, Zakopane, Wrocław, Poznań and Łódź. Standards are often higher than in basic youth hostels and prices are roughly the same. They typically offer shared dorm-room accommodation, with higher prices charged for rooms with fewer bunks.
- Private hostels usually provide group kitchens, laundry facilities and sometimes a lounge and bar.
- Beds normally come with sheets included, and rooms should have lockers to guard your things when you’re not around.
- Free wi-fi and computers are often available to surf the net, and friendly multilingual staff can help answer questions.
- Although marketed toward backpackers, there are no age restrictions or curfews.
Poland has around 600 schroniska młodzieżowe (youth hostels), which are operated by the Polskie Towarzystwo Schronisk Młodzieżowych (PTSM; Polish Youth Hostel Association; www.ptsm.org.pl), a member of Hostelling International (HI).
Of these, around 20% are open year-round; the rest are open in July and August only.
- Hostels are normally marked with a sign featuring a green triangle with the PTSM logo inside, placed over the entrance.
- Curfew is normally 10pm, and almost all hostels are closed between 10am and 5pm.
- Facilities and conditions of public hostels differ markedly. Some hostels are in poor shape, while others are pleasant and modern.
- Seasonal hostels are normally located in schools while pupils are on holidays, and conditions are much more basic, with some lacking showers, kitchens and hot water. Bed sheets may not be available, so bring your own.
- Youth hostels are open to all, members and non-members alike, and there is no age limit.
PTTK & Mountain Hostels
The Polskie Towarzystwo Turystyczno-Krajoznawcze (PTTK; Polish Tourist & Sightseeing Association; www.pttk.pl) has built up a network of its own hostels, called dom turysty or dom wycieczkowy.
They are aimed at budget travellers, providing basic accommodation for hikers and backpackers. Single rooms are a rarity, but you’ll always have a choice of three- and four-bed rooms, usually with shared facilities, where you can often rent just one bed (not the whole room) for around 35zł to 45zł.
PTTK also runs a network of schroniska górskie (mountain hostels). Conditions are simple, but prices are low and hot meals are usually available. The more isolated mountain hostels will usually try to take in all-comers, regardless of how crowded they get, which means that in high summer beds can be scarce. Many hostels are open all year, though it’s best to check at the nearest regional PTTK office before setting off.
Many private homes offer rooms to let for the night. These are particularly prevalent in mountain areas or places that draw large amounts of visitors. Look for signs reading ‘pokoje’, ‘noclegi’ or ‘zimmer frei’ in the window.
Private rooms are often a lottery: you don’t know what sort of room you’ll get or who your hosts will be. It’s therefore a good idea to take the room for a night or two and then extend if you decide to stay longer.
- Private rooms may or may not offer their own bathrooms.
- Breakfast and other meals may be available but not included in the basic room rate. It’s best to sort this out at the beginning before taking the room.
- Hosts are unlikely to speak English well, but will be used to accommodating guests, so communication is usually not a problem.
- Expect to pay 40zł for singles and from 70zł to 100zł for doubles, depending on the standard.
Short-Term Apartment Rental
A short-term apartment rental can make sense for longer stays (three days or more) in big cities such as Warsaw and Kraków. They range from simple studios to two-bedroom luxury establishments, and are often centrally located.
- Expect apartments to be fully equipped with towels and bed sheets. Better places may have a washing machine as well as kitchen appliances.
- Note payment is usually made in cash upfront or by credit card transfer over the internet. It’s always a good idea to look at the property first before surrendering any money.
- Peer-to-peer rental sites have become popular in recent years, and large cities like Warsaw and Kraków now have dozens of private apartments listed on these sites.
Poland has over 500 camping and bivouac sites registered at the Polish Federation of Camping & Caravanning. The sites are distributed throughout the country and can be found in all the major cities (usually on the outskirts), in many towns and in the countryside.
About 40% of registered sites are camping grounds with full facilities, including lighting, electricity, running water, showers, kitchen and caravan pitches. The remaining 60% are bivouac sites, the equivalent of very basic camp sites, usually equipped with toilets and not much else.
- Many places also have wooden cabins for rent, which are similar to very basic hotel rooms.
- Most camping grounds are open from May to September, but some run only from June to August.
- Fees are usually charged per tent site, plus an extra fee per person and per car. Some camping grounds levy an additional fee for electricity use.
Reserving a room
Reserving a room, even if only for the first night, is the best way to ensure a smooth start to your trip. While, admittedly, you’re unlikely to have to speak Polish on the phone with a hotel receptionist (particularly if the hotel is used to dealing with foreign visitors), the following phrases should see you through if English isn’t spoken.
Hello. Cześć. cheshch
I would like to book a room. Chcę zarezerwować pokój. khtse za·re·zer·vo·vach po·kooy
My name is… Nazywam się… na·zi·vam shye…
from… to… (date) Od… do… od… do…
How much is it…? Ile kosztuje…? ee·le kosh·too·ye…
per night za noc za nots
per person za osobę za o·so·be
Thank you (very much). Dziękuję (bardzo). jyen·koo·ye (bar·dzo)