Apr172016

Hampton Inn Krakow Poland 5K per night, but air pollution may kill me prematurely

The elusive Hilton HHonors category 1 reward hotel at 5,000 points per night has aligned with my travel path in Krakow, Poland this summer. Hampton Inn Krakow is a category 1 hotel reward. That makes for $25 hotel nights with Wednesday’s Daily Getaways sale of 100,000 Hilton HHonors points for $500. Or $20 per night if you are elite on a 5th night free reward rate.

Hilton brand hotels in Poland at 5,000 points per night or 20,000 points for five nights with elite member 5th night free.

Hampton Inn Krakow July 2016 sample rates

Hampton Inn Krakow Jul16 rates

Yesterday I purchased my wife’s award ticket home from Europe in July using 57,500 AAdvantage miles + $61 for Copenhagen to Monterey in Business Class. That was the final missing piece of our summer European flights and date puzzle. Once we had the city airport and date set, I was able to quickly line up the travel itinerary for Sweden, Poland, Denmark and Norway.

Krakow, Poland Tourism

or as I am commonly seeing, Cracow?

I never studied Poland tourism much, even though a 1996 The Rough Guide Poland book has spent several of the past years beside my bed.

While 1996 may seem to be a horribly irrelevant outdated guide to Poland, the first paragraph in the 1996 edition on Krakow kind of sums up some of what I have learned.

Krakow, the ancient capital of Poland and residence for centuries of its kings, was the only major city in the country to come through World War II essentially undamaged. Its assembly of monuments, without rival in Poland, is listed by UNESCO as one of the world’s 12 most significant historical sites. All the more ironic, then, that the government of the 1970s had to add a further tag, that of official “ecological disaster area” – for Krakow’s industrial suburbs represent the communist experiment at its saddest extreme.

Krakow, Poland – The Rough Guide (1996 edition)

Having returned from Lithuania last week, I learned a little bit about the Lithuania-Poland historical connections as major ruling powers of central Europe 600 years ago when an empire stretched from the Baltic to the Black Sea.

Krakow is considered the top tourist spot in Poland for its historic architecture. I also learned Krakow ranks #3 in two other European rankings:

  • #3 lowest daily travel expenses (#1 Kiev, Ukraine; #2 Bucharest, Romania).
  • #3 worst air pollution in Europe (#1 and #2 are Pernik and Plovdiv, both in Bulgaria). Culprit appears to be cheap locally sourced coal burned for residential heat and topography of Krakow city situated in a valley. I assume summer is nowhere near as bad as winter when heating is needed.

The first data point is something I have been aware of for a couple years. The second data point I only became aware of yesterday.

Krakow, Poland ranks #3 as cheapest city of 56 cities in Europe on 2016 Backpacker Index

Krakow, Poland ranks #3 of 56 European cities on the 2016 Backpacker index. The index calculates the cost of a hostel room, daily transportation, meals, drink, entertainment and attractions. Krakow comes in at about 100 PLN or about $26.50 USD per day.

Of course, I prefer hotels to hostels, so I have to bump up the cost of a $10 hostel to the price of a $25 Hampton Inn for a hotel traveler index of $42 per day for 5 nights at Hampton Inn Krakow.

Kiev and Bucharest come in at #1 and #2 in case you are curious. Vilnius, Lithuania, a city I enjoyed spending the week in this month, ranks #11 at around 30 EUR per day or about $34 USD. I stayed in Vilnius using IHG Rewards Club points at 5,000 points per night for a nightly rate of about $30 at Crowne Plaza Vilnius.

Four airline tickets Stockholm to Krakow to Copenhagen are only around $200 all-in for the two of us. Then I was blown away as I actually had dates and could plug in room rates and award night dates to do a hotel rate analysis.

Two observations became immediately clear as I searched hotel rates in Krakow:

1. Poland has some of the lowest hotel rates in Europe, and probably the world for 4 and 5 star hotels.

2. Poland has some of the lowest hotel award rates in the world that make reward nights an even better value than paying low room rates.

The question is not which hotel loyalty program provides good value for hotels in Krakow? I have found so many good values that I have to make a choice.

Radisson Blu Krakow $71.60 per night with Club Carlson Gold Elite 2-for-1 rate. Hotel’s TripAdvisor rank #21 of 252 Krakow hotels.

Holiday Inn Krakow 15,000 points per night = $84.75 per night buying 100,000 IHG Rewards Club for $565 in Daily Getaways.

Best Western three hotels in Krakow for 8,000 points per night.

Best Westerns Krakow 8K   Best Western Krakow 8k rates

  1. Best Western Krakow Hotel Galicya = 8,000 points.
  2. Best Western Premier Krakow Hotel = 8,000 points
  3. Best Western Efekt Express Krakow Hotel = 8,000 points.

Rates shown are lowest paid room rates, while many of the reward nights offered higher category room levels for points.

Best Western points were available for sale on April 7 at the rate of $55 per 10,000 points, up to 50,000 points on Daily Getaways. The cost for 8,000 points was $44.

Best Western Premier Krakow Hotel offers a 3-night Suite rate at $99.89 per night. Or pay 8,000 points per night for a Queen standard room with free breakfast.

Best Western Premier Krakow Suite $100

For a hotel with a more central tourist location is Best Western Krakow Old Town where a Premium room with a sitting area can be booked for $98 per night.

Best Western Krakow Old Town

Sheraton Krakow is in a good tourist location by Old Town, however, the room rates are over $200 per night most dates in July and the reward rate is 10,000 points. Sheraton Krakow ranks #23 on TripAdvisor. There are so many other lower priced chain options available for points spenders in Krakow.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »

Pingbacks

  1. […] Hampton Inn Krakow Poland 5K per night, but air pollution may kill me prematurely (April 17, 2016) shares information about some of the low room rates and reward rates in Krakow across different hotel chains. Hotel suites for $100 per night? I found those in Krakow. IHG hotels for 15,000 points, Hilton brand hotels for 5,000 to 20,000 points, Best Western Rewards nights for 8,000 points at several hotels. Radisson Blu Krakow for $71 per night. […]

Comments

  1. My family of 5 spent Christmas in Kraków several years ago. The kids were only ages 6-9. I didn’t notice horrible air pollution but maybe the summer heat brings it out? We had a great time. Old town is the best, say hi to the dragon for us!

  2. I visited Krakow last spring. The Hampton Inn is not in the best location. Try to stay close to Old town. You’s want to be around the old town at night. The better located hotels are quite pricey.

  3. Ric, do not worry about pollution too much. Kraków is not Beijing. Smog supposedly happens from time to time but the last time I experienced that was in the 1970s when I was a kid on a school trip to Auschwitz. (And I go there every other year or so for 2-3 days.) The quality of air has improved dramatically from the communist and early post-communist times since the nearby polluter Nowa Huta (New Steelworks) was upgraded. You are already surprised with the low cost of accommodation but expect more surprises such as great breakfast (usually included in price) and excellent restaurants, both much better than we typically have in California. I am spoiled by the quality of 5* hotels in Kraków and Warsaw, and I wish you the same!

  4. We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn Krakow using BRG’s and it was fine. a short tram ride to the Old Town.

  5. We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn last fall and would recommend it. The breakfast was excellent, and we had lunch in the restaurant as well, which was equally good, and reasonably priced. It is a 10-15 minute walk to the castle from the hotel and from there just a short way into the center of the old city. We used our visit in Cracow as a stop along the way to Auschwitz. If you are in Cracow, I would encourage you to visit Auschwitz and Birkenau. You do need to reserve entry in advance, on the website, but it is free to visit.

  6. My husband and I were in Warsaw and Krakow in June 2005 – we thoroughly enjoyed both cities. We stayed 5 nights at the Radisson Blu Krakow (on a corporate rate at the time, so don’t remember how much). The location was great. There were some tour group folks there, but nothing intrusive. There is much to see in and around Krakow. The old town is stunning – sit in an outdoor cafe and people watch. In addition to the standard sites (castle, cloth hall), we took a local bus to the Wieliczka Salt Mine, a tour of Collegium Maius at Jagiellonian University (original Copernicus manuscript on display), walked through the old Jewish Quarter and cemeteries – an area where Speilberg filmed “Schindler’s List”, took a Trabant tour, and sat on the riverbanks with thousands of locals celebrating Wianki, the summer solstice festival. It was a wonderful trip, and we would love to return to see more of Poland.

  7. I spent a week there two years ago and didn’t notice the air pollution. Stayed in Old Town and as one poster previously stated, night time in Old Town is pretty damn cool. Schindler’s Factory tour is a must. Salt Mine is debatable. If you do check it out don’t do the “tourist route” tour, do the “miner’s route” tour as it takes you deeper into the cave and you get to take part in doing some “mine” chores while you are underground. Restauracja Farina is a fantastic seafood restaurant in Old Town. And yes, things are very inexpensive there! Have fun!

  8. We will be in Krakow for five days and probably stay in Old Town area rather than Hampton Inn, some 20 minutes out of town center. That 5,000 points room is tempting, but Kelley preferred being closer to Old Town in Vilnius at Holiday Inn than a mile walk from Crowne Plaza. I have reservations at a couple of hotels in the Old Town Krakow area. I need to decide which ones to keep.

    Kelley wants to see Auschwitz. I am not too keen on prisons and death camps. I still have memories of Dachau from a tour when I was 10 years old. We will definitely plan on Auschwitz, unless the weather is oppressively hot.

    Salt mine is most likely not going to happen. Kelley does not like caves and I already have a life story about being lost in a salt mine in Salzburg, Austria, also from when I was 10 years old. I was not really lost. That was the perspective of the tour group who I had become separated from during the trip. I ended up on the deluxe tour with the salt mine grotto boat ride that my original tour mates did not have included on their tour.

    Glad to hear people did not find pollution noticeable in Krakow. As someone who spent part of my childhood in Los Angeles County and spent most of my adult life in far cleaner air by the beach, I tend to notice air pollution. London usually gives me some blood in my nose from breathing in the particulate matter after a day of walking around the city. I’ll report my take on the air pollution of Krakow.

    From what I gathered in my research, Poland food prices look like they will be about the same as we experienced in Vilnius, Lithuania last week.

    One of the areas that intrigues me about Poland are the National Parks in the mountain region and rivers around the Slovakia border, about 2 hours south of Krakow. If Krakow is appealing to me as a destination after our time in July, I may return in September and head into the mountain parks for hiking.

  9. We were in town for four nights,last week. Stayed on points in the Hilton Garden Inn. It requires a short transit ride to Old Town or the Castle, but other than that it was great for 20k points. Breakfast included if you have Gold or above, and it was pretty good. Noticed no air pollution, found everything inexpensive. One eats very well.

  10. I may end up at Hilton Garden Inn Krakow due to being Diamond with a chance of upgrade, free breakfast and $100 rates if I buy 100,000 HHonors points for $500 on Wednesday’s Daily Getaways. My primary reluctance is I already have points in other programs I can redeem for other good deals or I can simply book a $100 suite and earn points at other hotels.

    I like the idea of returning to Krakow in September and hotel hopping to all the bargain reward hotels and low rates available in the city. Krakow gets nearly 14 million tourists a year, making it one of the most visited cities in Europe. I think there would be good value in making a comparative study of the hotels in different chains to determine if cost savings is worth being farther away from city center.

  11. Re: “Kelley wants to see Auschwitz. I am not too keen on prisons and death camps. I still have memories of Dachau from a tour when I was 10 years old. We will definitely plan on Auschwitz, unless the weather is oppressively hot.”

    When we were there in June 2005, I remember it got quite hot. July may be very hot for you.

    We had seen Dachau on a trip to Germany in 1988, and it, too, was enough for both of us (plus we have been through the Holocaust museum in DC and Jewish Museum in Berlin). Although my husband is a non-practicing Jew, he did not want to see another death camp. But we enjoyed visiting the old Jewish cemeteries and eating in the ghetto area – it was quite memorable for both of us. Unfortunately, the Schindler factory did not have a museum tour back then.

  12. If you go to Auschwitz, the entry is free but it makes sense to pay for a guide (I think about $10 pp). Auschwitz was built by Germans in 1940 as a cc for Polish political prisoners while Auschwitz II (Birkenau) was a death camp built in 1942 for Jewish prisoners. The National Park in Poland is more than well-worthy of a visit. It has the largest proportion of land in management in the EU, and most of the Parks are shared with Poland’s neighbours. Tatra Mountains (with Slovakia) offer many excellent and well-marked hikes but in the summer are crowded. Late September or early October may be the best time to go there. Two great parks of Białowieża (with Belarus) and Bieszczady (with Ukraine) are slightly less accessible and because of that less crowded. The first one consists of the only primeval forest left in Europe and has the only bisons living outside of America (a “żubr” looks more scary than a bison!); in the second one you will find a New Zealand-like orgy of greenery and a network of beautiful Orthodox and Catholic small churches scattered around the region. As of your plans to do research on Kraków hotels, I am looking forward to reading it! I think that Warsaw’s hotels are even better, with my favourite being Hilton. If you have some time for a day trip, there is a new fast train Pendolino that connects Warsaw and Kraków.

  13. I will be taking my 85 year old Father there late October and we are worried about it being too cold then!! (he lives in S. Calif). We are having a similar debate about staying for free in chain hotels vs a local place for the “charm”, but will probably opt for using our points. We are looking at places close to Old Town like the Radisson, Sheraton, etc etc. I will be watching your blog for your updates Ric!!

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