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To the point: The Raffles Europejski Warsaw is everything that you’d expect from the Raffles brand and then some. Exceptional service, attention to detail – the epitome of a luxury hotel, right in the center of Warsaw. Pros: Exceptionally well-appointed rooms, fantastic service, a delicious breakfast, and a chocolatier in-house! Cons: There isn’t a Raffles Europejski in every city in Europe. If we get really picky – No doorman, and limited award redemptions unless you are with Accor.
At the end of last year, I decided to visit Warsaw, Poland, on a quick trip to Europe. One of city’s standout hotels is the Raffles Europejski Warsaw. Opened in 1857 as one of the most luxurious hotels in Europe, it’s managed to retain that distinction 160 years later. The hotel has just completed a five-year reconstruction and refurbishment in May 2018 and reopened as a Raffles property. If you are in Warsaw, this is absolutely the place to call home while you visit.
I booked my stay directly through Raffles.com and selected a rate of 1,113 zloty per night (about $300). I put the reservation on The Platinum Card® from American Express. The booking process included a page where you could add extras to your stay, such as a spa treatment, a Romance at the Raffles package, or a late checkout. I skipped on all three.
The whole process was quick and painless. Perhaps too quick.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more central hotel in Warsaw. On one side of the hotel is Piłsudski Square, home to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the former site of the Saxon Palace, which was destroyed in World War II.
Krakowskie Przedmieście, one of Warsaw’s main shopping streets, is on the other side of the hotel. It’s barely a five-minute walk from the Old Town or the river, and is close to public transportation. Uber is also popular in Poland, and I never waited more than two minutes for a pickup from the hotel.
The only fault I found with my entire stay here was early on. As I pulled up to the entrance of the hotel in my Uber, I expected to someone to be outside greeting guests. There was no one. As it was bitterly cold, I can understand, but even as I got out and began to get my bags out of the trunk, nobody appeared.
Now I have no problem carrying my own bags — Mama du Pont always said, “If you pack it, you carry it.” But at a Raffles property, I definitely expected that there would be someone waiting. Even as I walked inside, no sign of anyone. Once I arrived at the front desk, I didn’t have to lift a finger. But throughout my stay, there was never a doorman. And when that’s the biggest complaint you have about a hotel, you’ve found a decent property.
Instead of a traditional stand-up check-in counter, guests at the Raffles were invited to sit down and complete the check-in process at a desk, which felt much more personal. The agent said they did not have a reservation in my name, and would I like to book one?
I pulled up my confirmation number, and they responded that that reservation was for three nights ago. When I booked, either the date field reset on one of the screens, or I didn’t fill it out properly. So instead of a three-night stay booked for the 16th to the 19th, I had booked one night on the 13th, the same day I made the reservation. Rookie mistake, maybe a technological mistake, but after flying all night, bad news is bad news, no matter whose fault it is.
The Raffles staff could not have been more helpful. They not only credited what I had paid toward my new reservation, they also upgraded my room category. Having just arrived on a 12-hour flight from Los Angeles (LAX), I was incredibly grateful to have the confusion sorted so efficiently and be on my way to a hot shower and a bed.
Despite my protests, the staff insisted that the bellhop escort me to my room. Bartosz took my bags for me and explained a little about the history of the hotel, as well as amenities available as we walked to the room. As he opened my door for me, he said, “Welcome to your home in Warsaw!” And boy, did I ever feel at home here already.
This was one of the nicest rooms I’ve stayed in anywhere, and I’ve stayed in many a fine hotel room. The first thing I noticed as I walked in was the exquisitely polished parquet floors and the burnt-orange half wall that separated the entrance and closets from the bed and the rest of the room.
The bed was one of the most comfortable I’ve ever had the privilege of sleeping in, and not just because I’d traveled so far to get to Warsaw.
The mattress was firm but had a topper that felt like it was hugging me with feathers. A massive duvet and four huge pillows beckoned, threatening to keep me from my objective — seeing Warsaw!
Next to the bed were outlets, a mood-lighting and temperature control panel (that actually worked, as opposed to many hotels where it is just there for your amusement, like the buttons at a crosswalk) and little reading lights that popped out of the wall.
The two closets on either side of the door were stacked with all manner of amenities. Standard wooden hangers, satin-padded hangers, a tie rack, shoehorns, an umbrella, fluffy bathrobes and delightfully comfy slippers that of course fell into my suitcase and have now taken up residence in my closet in New York.
Bartosz mentioned as we walked to the room that they would be happy to press two shirts for free — laundry bags and the card for this service were also in the closet.
Next to the closets were an amenities space with a kettle, Nespresso machine, complimentary water and a selection of glasses, a selection of loose teas, and some literature. Also, the closets and amenity spaces were all adorned with mirrors — you could assess your look of the day from all angles before heading out!
There was a wall-mounted flat-screen TV in every room, and a desk to bang out some work.
A particularly nice touch, I thought, was the plate of fresh fruit left for me when I arrived, as well as pralines and chocolates from the in-house chocolatier.
Then there was the bathroom: marble from floor to ceiling, his-and-her sinks, amazing water pressure complemented by both a rainfall shower head and a wand, Blaise Mautin amenities and a gorgeous bathtub with the Warsaw skyline in marble behind it.
To top it off, the bathroom door was thick enough to secure a vault at Fort Knox. Whether it’s your terribly off-key singing in the shower or you’ve had too many pierogis and it’s time to evacuate, your partner won’t hear a thing.
Basically, I was madly in love with my room and would gladly have been snowed in here for weeks on end.
Food and Beverage
The Raffles Europejski had a number of interesting food and beverage options. As I’m sure you’ve already gathered, I could’ve happily taken up residence here and eaten my weight in truffles, pralines and macarons at the in-house chocolatier, Lourse Warszawa.
Also of note was the Long Bar, inspired by the Long Bar at the original Raffles Hotel in Singapore.
They had an intriguing cocktail selection, including a Warsaw Sling, which I highly recommend.
The Europejski Grill was the signature restaurant at the Raffles Warsaw, and it was also where breakfast was served. The service at breakfast was every bit as top-notch as the rest of the stay. As soon as I sat down, I was offered coffee or tea and asked if I preferred filtered coffee or an espresso drink. Fresh juice was brought to the table, and I was offered newspapers in five languages.
I was blown away by the vast selection of breakfast goodies available at the buffet.
If breakfast was included in your rate, then that included the à la carte menu, as well.
Honestly, though, my favorite part about breakfast was the floor-to-ceiling windows next to the table and the views. As I sat down at my first table, the hostess noticed that there was condensation on the window and immediately moved me to another table while snapping at someone to clean the window. Talk about attention to detail!
The standout amenity at the Raffles Europejski was definitely the Raffles Spa. It offered everything from hydrotherapy to massages and facials — you could even arrange a nutrition consultation or time with a personal trainer. Having spent most of my time in Warsaw drinking wine and eating pierogis, I probably should have signed up for both but in the end didn’t do either.
The other amenity I found hugely useful was the pressing service. I was told on arrival that, as a member of the LeClub program, I could have two shirts pressed for free. Later that afternoon, I brought two travel-weary, wrinkled shirts to the front desk to take advantage of the service and was nearly scolded by the woman at the desk.
“Please, Mr. du Pont,” she chided. “There’s no need to bring your shirts down. Next time, please just ring for the butler, and we will come to your room right away.”
Here I was thinking I was saving them a trip to my room, but it’s clear that here at Raffles, service is very much a part of the culture. What a breath of fresh air!
I am so impressed that the Raffles brand managed to bring its culture of service and attention to detail to Europe. It’s rare to find here, and the Raffles Europejski Warsaw truly is a standout property. I would happily move in here tomorrow (even if I did have to lug my own bags inside). The staff was lovely, everyone spoke English flawlessly, the bed was comfortable, the Wi-Fi was fast, breakfast was delicious and the cocktails were strong. What more can you ask for?
Aside from the doorman, the only other potential downside is that there’s no tram or train service nearby (everything is a 10-minute walk or so), but with Uber so prevalent in Poland, that’s really not a problem. Well done, Raffles Europejski Warszaw! Dziekuje bardzo, and I hope to return soon!
All photos by the author.
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