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Photo courtesy of Andel's Lodz © Vienna International Hotelmanagement AG

Checking In: Poland’s New Polish

As the country prepares to host the Euro 2012 soccer tourney, its distinctive cities shine with stylish hotels.

By Mark Baker

From the October issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine.

U Pana Cogito › Krakow

Krakow—a favorite destination of Poles in their own country—joins Prague and Budapest as Central European must-sees. Trouble is, the city can get crowded. U Pana Cogito occupies a peaceful setting in a former villa across the Vistula River from the Old Town. Though it’s just ten minutes by foot to Wawel Castle, it feels worlds away from the throng. The rooms themselves are bare bones—white walls and beige spreads—but are comfortable. A breakfast buffet of Polish sausages and cheeses—and a plate of herring if you’re lucky—is served in the villa’s 
sunroom, with a relaxing view of a small, secluded rose garden. From $90.

Andel’s Lodz › Lodz

Poland’s largest city after Warsaw and Krakow doesn’t make it onto many itineraries, but it should. Once a mighty textile producer, Lodz is on the rebound. It’s only fitting, then, that the Vienna International hotel chain chose an abandoned textile mill for its chic Andel’s property. The designers went for a loft aesthetic, retaining original elements of the mill such as arched redbrick ceilings and iron support posts while sprinkling the public areas with festive mid-century chairs and sofas. The centerpiece of the lobby is an oversize, oval-shaped skylight that bathes the space in light. An added bonus: Just outside the hotel’s doors is Manufaktura, one of the largest shopping and entertainment complexes in Europe. From $253.

Hotel Monopol › Wroclaw

Wroclaw is one of Poland’s best-kept secrets. Once known as the German city of Breslau, it was leveled late in World War II. These days, the main square—the Rynek—rivals Krakow’s in terms of size and pageantry. The Monopol, a formerly fusty 19th-century landmark, has been given a face-lift. The luxury Likus group kept the neobaroque cupola and balustrades on the exterior but tossed out the old worn carpets and chintz curtains. The new look is starkly contemporary. Black marble lines the walls of the lobby; the staircases are polished sandstone. Actress Marlene Dietrich stayed at the Monopol during her visits to Wroclaw. She’d probably like it even better now. From $190.

What chic stays have you discovered in Poland? Tell us in the comments section below.

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