Big business in Poland, part four

The featured photo for this post was taken in November 2008, when Bill and I visited Wroclaw for a few hours.

I’ve now come to the part of my series in which it’s time to write about the hotel. This week, I’ve spent a lot of time at the Sofitel Wroclaw, mainly because this wasn’t a pleasure trip. Bill had a choice of several hotels that were within the per diem set by his company and would be offering transportation to his conference this week. He chose Sofitel because they were the one hotel that could offer him a double room at an acceptable rate. We have also stayed in at least one Sofitel before– it was in Luxembourg. I had a mostly good impression of that property. Now that I think about it, we also stayed at a super nice Sofitel hotel in Hamburg called the Alter Wall. That one is newer that either the one in Luxembourg and Wroclaw and it’s pretty posh.

First thing’s first. This is a “five star hotel”. But five star means something different in Europe than it does in the United States. In America, we tend to think of five star hotels as super fancy. Here in Europe, a five star hotel is not necessarily fancy; it simply offers a lot of amenities. This particular property is a bit dated and could use some upgrades, but overall, it was a decent place to spend five nights. It is not on any level on par with the Jumeirah Frankfurt, which is five star in every sense of the expression.

First off, the hotel’s location can’t be beat. It’s a mere block from Wroclaw’s impressive main square. There are several good restaurants very close to the hotel, as well as a restaurant in the hotel itself. The staff is friendly, helpful and accommodating. For instance, Bill managed to get us a late checkout, since our flight doesn’t leave until 7:00pm. I am typing this review as checkout time lingers, but am welcome to stay until 3:00pm, even though the hotel is pretty well booked for the weekend. Christmas markets start today.

As it is, I’ll probably write this review and leave the room, since it’ll be about lunchtime, anyway, and Bill is planning to pick me up at about 3:30pm. I’ll just go across the street and hit the awesome Doctor’s Bar again, drink some craft beer, and see how far I can get into one of their specials. Or maybe I’ll go to a different restaurant… I have plenty of choices, which is a nice thing. Breakfast, by the way, is pretty good. They have a large array of hot and cold items available, as well as an omelet stand. Service is friendly and professional, and they were good sports about hordes of Americans in Army uniforms descending on them at 6:30am every day this week. I was reminded of college!

This property has a spa, which I did check out, but never used. They have Balinese massage on offer, as well as a jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, and a very small gym. I actually meant to use the spa during our time here, but never got around to it.

There’s also a bar, with friendly bartenders, creatively prepared cocktails, local craft beers, and funky music. The prices in the bar are high; you can certainly drink for less money at any of the local restaurants. Nevertheless, we used the bar on several nights because it was handy and a good place to mingle with others who were at the conference.

The hotel itself is in kind of a mall… not really a proper mall, per se, but there are some offices and a couple of shops in it. Underneath the building is parking, which we didn’t use this time, although I think we did use it in 2008, when we first visited this city. I remember when we came here the first time, people were parked bumper to bumper wherever there was space. Now, they seem to have come up with other options and parking is no longer as chaotic. This time, I haven’t seen anyone double parked, like I did in 2008.

The room we rented faced the street and when the drapes were open, we could see people working in their offices. Had we been on the other side of the hall, we would have had a view of the courtyard/mall. We had a good bed, even though I still had some back problems this week which cramped my style a bit. I noticed today and yesterday that the pain was lessened. I think the mattress on the bed in our room is better than the one we have at home.

WiFi worked well, and there is also a good television that offers a couple of channels in English. I didn’t bother with the TV. There’s also a minibar and coffee/tea set up. I didn’t use the minibar, as the prices were pretty exorbitant and there’s no telling how long the stuff has been sitting there. I noticed during working hours, I could hear people in the street or on the other side of the wall, although it wasn’t an issue at night.

One main complaint I did have about this room is that the shower pretty much sucked. It’s a shower/tub combo with a glass screen that doesn’t do the best at keeping the water off of the floor. Getting hot water often took a long time, and there wasn’t much pressure from the spray nozzle. However, they did provide good toiletries from Lanvin (Paris), and they were generous with them. The housekeeper did an outstanding job getting the room cleaned early so that I came back to a fresh room in the early afternoon. If there’s one thing I dislike, it’s coming back to an unmade room at 4:00pm.

Another complaint is that the air conditioning/fan system seemed to be on by default. I could turn the fan off, only to have it come back on at some point. The air was a bit chilly/drafty, and the duvet cover was almost not enough. Fortunately, the weather in Wroclaw was very mild temperature wise. I barely needed a sweater, even though there was some rain.

Another minor grumble about this hotel is that the elevators are a bit of a pain to use. You have to use your keycard to get it to work, and although there are three of them, they take awhile and get crowded. Also, there is no restroom in the lobby, which is kind of a pain when you’re in the bar and have to pee. You have to go to the first floor.

Overall, though, I enjoyed my stay at Sofitel Wroclaw, and would consider staying again. At the same time, I look forward to flying home this evening, taking a shower with plenty of hot water and pressure, and sleeping in my own bed for as long as I want with no worries that I’ll inconvenience the housekeeping staff. In fact, I really enjoyed Wroclaw… wish I could have seen and done more, but now we have an excuse to come back on our own terms and see more of Poland. It was nice to be with Bill this week instead of sitting at home alone, and I’m grateful that we were able to make it happen and were so well accommodated by the Sofitel staff!

Here are a few pictures of our room, as seen when we first arrived on Sunday, the 17th.


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