An in-room library at the newly opened Raffles Europejski Warsaw.
Courtesy of Raffles Hotels

Our new series, Reasons to Travel Now, highlights the news, events, and openings that have us scoping out plane tickets each day. 

Benjamin Kemper
May 15, 2018

The city once derided as Kraków's gloomy Soviet sister has become Eastern Europe's next up-and-coming destination with the addition of Raffles Europejski Warsaw, a stately, meticulously restored 1857 property located next to the Presidential Palace in the heart of the old town. Inside, the design is something of a love letter to the city: in the lobby, art installations evoke local landmarks and Poland's past, and a series of galleries feature art and photos from the hotel's previous incarnations. Upstairs, the 106 rooms and suites—the largest you'll find in Warsaw—are furnished with bespoke pieces by local craftspeople. Even the bathrooms have a sense of place: the marble paneling is patterned after the city's skyline.

Warsaw Old Town Market Square.
Allan Baxter/Getty Images

The hotel offers a new entry point to Warsaw's surprisingly cosmopolitan appeal. Start your day with a cup of single-origin coffee at Ministerstwo Kawy or Niezłe Ziółko, cafés in the quirky Plac Zbawiciela neighborhood.

Then take in some culture, beginning with a visit to the Warsaw Uprising Museum, honoring the 1944 Polish-resistance-led insurrection to drive out the Nazis. Head next to Wilanów Palace, the 17th-century royal residence. At the little-known Fotoplastikon, a stereoscope theater built in 1905 projects street scenes from turn-of-the-century Warsaw in 3-D. For a more modern brand of nostalgia, there's the Neon Museum, which has floor-to-ceiling displays of neon signs, colorful relics of the Cold War.

Warsaw's blossoming culinary scene challenges the notion that Poles eat only pierogi and borscht. At new food courts like Hala Gwardii and Hala Koszyki, you can sample vegan Palestinian dishes, Georgian khinkali, Italian cheeses—and yes, pierogi and borscht. Save room for a nightcap at Kita Koguta, where mixologists conduct a brief interview ("Gin or vodka? Classic or experimental?") before making drinks to individual tastes.

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