BACKGROUND One of the oldest Starwood properties in the world, this November will see bring the 110th birthday of Le Meridien Bristol. The building was used as a hospital for German soldiers during World War II, which explains why it is one of the few buildings in Warsaw to have been kept intact, although its elegant white façade had to be restored. Margaret Thatcher re-opened the property in 1993, and the hotel was christened as a Le Meridien in 2005. Starwood also operates a Sheraton and a Westin in Warsaw.
WHAT’S IT LIKE? A golden plaque inside Le Meridien Bristol’s lobby by the entrance lists the famous and royal guests of the hotel – the Rolling Stones, Pablo Picasso, Michael Jackson and Queen Elizabeth II are all up there. Stepping into the marble lobby, your eye is drawn to the ceiling, which is painted with a mesmerising red, gold and blue concentric circular design, and to your right is a gold-framed glass elevator, which adds a glamorous touch.
The hotel’s 204 rooms and suites are spread over seven floors, and will undergo a refurbishment early next year. Currently, each room is individually designed, but all adhere to a homely, Parisian art deco style. Service is exceptional – smartly dressed porters will go the extra mile to make sure you have what you need. Even when I’d already checked out of the hotel the day before and was returning to meet somebody, knowing that I needed to check the internet, one of them led me to the business centre and offered to get me a drink, and made sure a taxi was available as soon as I was ready to leave.
WHERE IS IT? Located on the capital’s Royal Mile, Le Meridien Bristol is situated within walking distance of some of Warsaw’s main cultural attractions, including the Old Town Square, the Royal Castle, the Fryderyck Chopin Museum and Warsaw University. Away from the congested Centrum, where the Palace of Culture stands, its location is still close to the city’s business district. A taxi journey from Warsaw Chopin Airport took half an hour and cost me PLN 80 (£15).
ROOM FACILITIES I stayed in a non-smoking Executive room on the sixth floor, which was a Starwood Preferred Guest Room, reserved for members of the hotel chain’s loyalty scheme. The room was divided into several different areas: a lobby area with a chest of drawers and minibar, the main bedroom, a walk-in wardrobe with a laptop safe, a separate lounge with a sofa, coffee table and a spacious bathroom.
The room was furnished with antique pieces (mahogany furniture, floral armchairs) and contemporary pieces influenced by Victorian décor, such as the chartreuse chaise longue at the foot of the bed. The golden wallpaper with a green floral print and strategic lighting gave the room a lovely warm atmosphere as I entered. The view from my window looked out on to the hotel courtyard, and was not particularly interesting.
The bed was extremely comfortable, and the large flat-screen Philips TV offered a variety of channels, with several in English such as CNN, Bloomberg and NASN Sport. The pale grey marble bathroom had a shower over the bath and a bidet, with Cinq Mondes products and a speaker in the ceiling that linked to the television in the bedroom, which was a nice surprise, and reminded me that I’d left the TV on. The work desk was a decent size, and wired internet costs PLN 68 (£13) for 24 hours, with wireless at PLN 60 (£11). Other amenities in the room included a robe and slippers, two complimentary bottles of water, hairdryer, iron and an ironing board. There was 24–hour room service but no tea and coffee-making facilities.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS A bearded Grecian bust stands at the centre of the chandelier-clad Marconi Restaurant. With high ceilings, framed cartoon-like sketches of Victorian gentlemen on the walls and extremely white tablecloths, 20th century grandeur is the theme. A breakfast buffet is served from 6.30am-10.30am, offering potato pancakes, sweet pancakes with syrup or fresh cream, meats, breads, fish, cheeses, cereals, scrambled eggs, boiled eggs, sausages, smoothies and champagne. A variety of teas, juices or coffee can be served to your table, and there’s also a set menu with intriguing dishes such as spiced oatmeal soufflé and warm goats cheese custard.
Classical music plays softly as you dine, and a selection of newspapers is available. For lunch and dinner, Marconi’s cuisine is contemporary Mediterranean and Polish dishes, and dinner is served until 11pm. A lovely outdoor patio in the hotel’s central courtyard is open in the summer – it runs along the side of Marconi. The hotel’s Column bar continues the neo-classical theme, with towering Grecian columns stretching right up to earth-coloured ceiling paintings.
The elegant bar serves a good range of drinks and is open until 1am, with live piano music from 8pm-12am. Café Bristol is the hotel’s Parisian coffee shop with a street entrance. Its authentic feel and delicious cakes attract locals – apparently the hotel’s Florentine cake was so popular that a couple of years ago, when the hotel decided to stop serving it, a radio campaign was launched demanding its reinstatement on the café’s menu – the campaign succeeded. The café has a breakfast, lunch and dinner menu, served until 8pm.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES There are 13 meeting rooms in total, the largest of which is the reception hall, which can seat a maximum of 144 people around 12 round tables. All rooms are classical and fancy, with art nouveau features. The 128-sqm Malinowa, or“Raspberry” room, is named after the rich pinky-red colour of its walls and would be a great space for an intimate dinner or cocktails, and Salon Slowacki has pea-green wallpaper, wooden paneling and bookshelves for browsing – this room can hold 30 for a lunch buffet set up. All rooms have projector screens, and the hotel collaborates with and external AV team, and is able to provide translators.
LEISURE FACILITIES On its basement floor, the hotel offers free use of its fitness facilities to its guests, open 6.30am-11pm. There is a good-sized gym, an indoor swimming pool, a Finnish sauna and a Turkish steam bath. There is no spa, but massage treatments are available.
VERDICT A glamorous hotel in a lovely location, with high standards of service.
HOW MANY ROOMS? 204 rooms and suites divided into seven categories: Superior room, Executive room, Business suite, Junior suite, Senior suite, De Luxe suite and the Presidential suite (named “Paderewski” after Poland’s second prime minister, who was the original owner of the hotel).
ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The comfortable bed and the amount of space.
PRICE Internet rates in November start from PLN 470 (£93) per night.