Words by Chloe Govan
Wroclaw – one of Poland’s best-kept secrets. Chances are you may never even have heard of this scarcely publicised beauty spot, let alone how to pronounce it (it’s ‘vrotts-waff’) but to let it languish in the shadow of fairy-tale Krakow or the ‘little New York’ vibe of Warsaw would be a mistake – Wroclaw is uniquely captivating in its own right.
The Bridge Wroclaw MGallery is not just the only hotel in Wroclaw’s ‘Cathedral Island’ area but also perhaps one of the most beautiful in all of Poland, so it’s a natural choice for a stay.
With a budget close to £20 million at their disposal, the developers of The Bridge were determined to secure the best location in town, and their efforts didn’t disappoint. Almost indisputably the most picturesque area in Wroclaw, Ostrow Tumski (Cathedral Island) is the perfect scene of a medieval fairy-tale, packed with 11th century buildings and bridges and even a caped lamplighter who appears every evening as dusk falls on Cathedral Square.
Set right at the heart of this scene, The Bridge offers phenomenal views from the windows, and guests share the panoramas with the likes of the local Archbishop, whose residence is very close by. Meanwhile, the best in-house hot spot is the sixth floor spa and chill-out zone, boasting stunning views over the rooftops and offering everything from massages to natural herb-based aromatherapy.
Options range from a classic room to a lavish presidential suite, but regardless, guests can expect excellent views. Interiors are also stunning, featuring wall portraits of important local figures from the past. Everything in-room is fully automated via a panel close to your bed, so no scrabbling around for light switches or fiddling with the ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door handle. Master lights, hallway and canopy lights, and privacy settings can be adjusted with one click and you won’t even need to sit up! Best of all is the ability to bring to life a set of glowing mechanical candles above your bed – it provides the ideal mood lighting.
Craft restaurant, where all meals are served, boasts commanding views of the district from its full-length windows. Pick a window seat at the right time as darkness falls and you can catch sight of a nearby gas lamp being ignited by hand. It’s a romantic experience hinting at an era that time forgot, and in-room after the meal you can recreate your own atmospheric lighting conditions courtesy of the candles.
The next morning, the scrumptious breakfast is worth the effort of an early rise – there’s a huge variety on offer from smoked salmon or Greek salad to as many cheese varieties as you can fit onto your plate. For lunch or dinner, on the other hand, the churros, generously garnished with spicy jalapeno mayonnaise, make for mouthwateringly moreish snacks, and they’re a perfect prelude to a main course.
Skip the burgers and fries on the bar menu and head straight for the local cuisine offered on season-sensitive menus. From Marmite-style options like cauliflower with whey and walnuts to mainstream favourites such as risotto and locally-farmed ox cheeks, there are dishes to satisfy most palates. Each meal comes served with melt-in-the-mouth home-made bread – and from ice lolly desserts to forest berries, buckwheat and prosecco fusions, the afters are excellent as well.
From romantic riverside walks to exploration of the cathedral area – including preserved pre-Second World War church interiors – there’s plenty to do, and the hotel can easily organise a private guide for a walking tour of the best spots in the city. Some locations close to the hotel mimic the vibe of the streets of Oxford, but with a distinctive Polish twist. Meanwhile the old town square is memorable for its architecture, with ornate and brightly coloured buildings at every turn.
Wroclaw is also famous for its quirky gnome statues, with literally hundreds hidden throughout the city in all different guises. They include one with its own camera conducting a photo shoot, a plump one feasting outside the pizzeria, an imprisoned one padlocked behind bars outside a former jail, and even an entire orchestra of 19 musicians – all in statue form adorning the streets.
Imagine a white Christmas at The Bridge, glancing out of the window of Craft restaurant and catching sight of the town’s lamp-lighter trudging through the snow to illuminate the streets.
Alternatively, if you can time your stay to avoid the rain, autumn is idyllic, with crisp fall leaves swirling onto cobbled streets. The typically bracing, yet not too chilly, wind boosts the atmosphere of riverside walks, while some buildings – such as the National Museum, only a few minutes’ walk from the hotel – are covered in red foliage. Meanwhile the charms of the warm spring and summer seasons are obvious – so it’s a great spot all year round.
In a nutshell
Stay on a 1000-year-old former island, surrounded by river pathways and some of the most picturesque buildings in Poland. A competent rival to more well-known spots like Krakow, with its notable beauty spots such as the ‘Little Vatican’ area, Wroclaw deserves pride of place on any 2021 wish list – and for lovers of luxury, The Bridge is the place to be.
Address: plac Katedralny 8, 50-329 Wrocław, Poland
Images courtesy of The Bridge Wroclaw MGallery