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When I first started traveling extensively on my own, I was still a poor law student who could only afford to stay in hostels. Since I was doing a lot of solo travel at the time, I loved the social and community aspects that hostels offered. The communal living spaces and shared amenities made it easy to meet fellow travelers and make new friends from all over the world. As the years went by, however, and I had the financial capability to stay at nicer hotels, I started to miss the community aspect of travel. I wanted the privacy of my own space and the nicer amenities I had in hotels, but I also wanted the opportunity to meet fellow travelers. This hotel vs hostel debate went on for a while in my head, with hardly a solution in sight. That’s why I was so excited when I discovered Cracowdays, a hotel in the center of Krakow, Poland that offered both the privacy of hotels and community elements of hostels. Finally, the hotel vs hostel debate was over, and I was able to get the best of both worlds at my Krakow home away from home, Cracowdays.
Home Away From Home
Cracowdays is located inside an apartment building on a mostly residential street not far from the Krakow Old Town Square. Surrounded by Krakow apartments on both sides, the location instantly made us feel like we were going back to our apartment at home rather than to a cold hotel in a foreign city. Nina greeted us at the front door, showed us to our room on the ground floor, and led us upstairs to enjoy some honey vodka (a local treat) and coffee while we filled out a couple of forms to complete the check in process. To make us feel more at home, Nina also provided maps, restaurant recommendations, and even some common phrases we might want to learn in Polish. I was very grateful for this as I always try to learn a few words in the local language of every country I travel to, and it was my first time visiting Poland so I needed all the help I could get.
When we got back downstairs, we walked through the long hallway past the couches, computer station, kitchen, and a few other rooms to our room at the end of the hallway, but not before stopping by the kitchen to much on some cookies that had been set out for the guests.
The fully stocked kitchen also included a minibar, which you could take from freely and charge to your room at the end of your stay. I was surprised that there was no system in place to calculate how many drinks you’ve taken, other than to keep track on your own and honor the honor system. To me, that was not only another sign of how the staff at Cracowdays treats its guests like family, but it also spoke to the quality of guests who stay at Cracowdays, an important factor as you’ll be sharing the common spaces with other guests. In the mornings, we were able to make coffee in the kitchen and bring it back to bed to sip on before we headed out for the day, just like we do at home.
If you’re looking to socialize, the kitchen is a great place to do so, as are the couches in the hallway near the computer station. There is also a bulletin board in the hallway near the computer station with a list of activities to do in the city, like free walking tours and pub crawls that you can check out with your new friends or go on to make more new friends in Krakow. And just in case it’s raining when you visit Krakow, and you’re like me and never bring an umbrella when you travel, rest assured that Cracowdays provides a bucket of large umbrellas that you’re free to borrow in case you’re caught with some bad weather. The staff at Cracowdays really have thought about every detail when it comes to making its guests feel at home.
Spacious, Cozy Rooms
There was no lack of space in our Standard ‘Chianti’ room at Cracowdays, so I can only imagine how spacious a Superior room or Independent Studio would feel. The first thing I noticed when I walked in was a large ceramic tiled stove that looked like it had been transported there from hundreds of years ago. Even though the stove was only meant as decoration and was not functional, I felt that it gave the room more warmth and coziness.
One of my favorite things about the room were the lights. As soon as I turned on the lights, I felt an even stronger sense of warmth, as the soft red lights lit up the room and reflected beautifully off the walls.
The bathroom felt equally as cozy, with a heated towel rack that I really enjoyed after coming in from the cold outside. Rather than providing individually packaged toiletries, there was a soap dispenser inside the shower that held shampoo and body wash, a small detail that can make a big difference in eliminating plastic waste and benefiting the environment. With all the negative effects travel can have on the environment, I have been looking for even the smallest ways to reduce my waste while traveling. Although I didn’t even notice this detail while researching the best place to stay in Krakow, I thought it was a great initiative that other hotels should consider implementing as well. If you’re wondering where to stay in Krakow, I urge you to consider this environmental component when choosing your Krakow home away from home.
Earlier I mentioned that Nina provided us with a list of recommended restaurants in the area when we checked into Cracowdays. What I didn’t mention was that many of those restaurants offer discounts to Cracowdays guests. I’m actually quite surprised I haven’t seen more hotels do this, but I think it’s a great way for local hotels and restaurants to partner together in their business pursuits. One of the partner restaurants with Cracowdays is Zielona Kuchnia Restauracja, an ultra modern and chic restaurant serving healthy, modern Polish cuisine that is located right across the street from Cracowdays. Since we hadn’t had anything to eat for almost the entire day before arriving at Cracowdays, we decided to go there for dinner on our first night in Krakow. I ordered a pan-seared duck dish, and my fiance ordered a fish filet dish, and both were delicious and filling, with a good mix of familiar and unfamiliar flavors.
Most of the restaurants on the partner list with Cracowdays were on the nicer side, so if you’re looking for something quick, casual, and cheap, you might want to look elsewhere. We saw many tasty-looking food stands serving Mediterranean food, and we also found a delicious pierogi restaurant called Pierogarnia Krakowiacy, which you’ll walk past on your way from Cracowdays to Old Town Square, that I can wholeheartedly recommend. We had a hard time choosing from so many types of fillings but ultimately settled on a plate of the pork and beef meat pierogis and a plate of the duck and apple pierogis, both of which were delicious. Could we have eaten a third plate if we tried really hard? Probably, but we were more than satisfied after sharing two plates between the two of us.
If you get a hankering for some local vodka after your meal, head across the street to Pijalnia Wodki, which Hope wrote about in her 24 hour guide to Krakow. Popular mainly with college students and hostel stayers, there’s no harm to stopping in for some $1 shots while marveling at the communist-era decorations inside regardless of which age group or demographic you fall into.
I couldn’t have asked for a better place to stay than Cracowdays on my first visit to Krakow, a city that pleasantly surprised me with how much it has to offer and how livable it is. I could see myself getting into a daily routine of going for a morning run through the park or along the riverfront, getting some work done at a cafe while people watching in Old Town Square, and going out at night in the lively Kazimierz district. So if you’re like me and find yourself running the hotel vs hostel debate through your head every time you look for accommodations on your travels, let this be proof that you can get the best of both worlds in one accommodation. If you’re still wondering where to stay in Krakow, stop wondering and go find your home away from home at the best place to stay in Krakow: Cracowdays.
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A big thank you to Cracowdays for making our stay possible. As always, all opinions are 100% our own.