Hotel Rialto, Warsaw. Poland *** (UPDATED)

Q: What is it? A: Opened in 2003. At the time it was the first boutique hotel in Warsaw. Today, other hotels fit the boutique description as well. Still a good alternative if you want to avoid the big dinosaurs.

Hotel Rialto, Warsaw – the exterior
Art déco goes Warsaw and they call the blend Hotel Rialto. The mixture is not at all unappealing although it did not quite live up to the hype. Often listed as a budget alternative. Well, there are few very expensive hotels in Warsaw.

Hotel Rialto, Warsaw – the bedroom
The bedroom. What to say? Fourteen shades of brown and beige. Not exciting. Perhaps even a bit jaded.

Hotel Rialto, Warsaw – the bathroom
At least the bathroom was spotless. It also felt relatively new compared to the brownish bedroom. Well, anything would.

Hotel Rialto, Warsaw – the entrance
At least the people renovating the Rialto decided to stick to one design concept. Fans of art déco will have an overdose of what they came for before even entering the lobby.

Listed as Warsaw’s first boutique hotel…
According to the hotel’s own website it is ”…a magnificent and luxurious 5-star property”. Another site tells that it has “an air of film star glamour about it.” And a third site says that it is “so hip, so cool, so utterly fashionable…” The TV channel CNBC European Business used to rank it as the 18th best business hotel in Europe. If you checked the Condé Nast Travellers Hot List way back in 2004 you found it on 24th place out of 50 hotels. Today, TripAdvisor ranks it #13 of 109 hotels in Warsaw. The most obvious hype is gone but the folks at the Rialto PR department are still busy.

At first you want to believe the hype.
The façade is nothing but grand, especially if you’re arriving at night. The Hotel Rialto opened in June 2003 and it’s 44 rooms (of which 11 are suites) were renovated in art déco or art nouveau style. The elevator even has one of those arrows pointing out the 4th floor et cetera. Don’t get me wrong, the hotel is comfortable and it’s neat and relatively tidy but trust me, you will not have a luxury overdose. And now, at my second visit things were looking at bit jaded. In 2008 I booked a suite. This time (and pictured above) I stayed in a standard room.

“…the perfect spot for honeymooners…”
That’s what one of those countless websites told me. Well, I am not too sure about that. The bathroom of my suite was accessed through two doorways. One to give you access from the hallway and another from the bedroom. The latter has glass windows. Expect an unexpected show if your bride/groom has a bubbly stomach. You will see (and hear) much more than you need. Not overly clever, if you ask me. The standard room was just… standard. Not very honeymoonish, if you ask me.

Trust me, you will drink a lot of gin and tonics.
On my first visit, two complete novices were tending the bar. Any order more complicated than a gin and tonic was met with a shy smile and red cheeks. I detected panic in the eyes of two nice, young girls who tried did their best, but hadn’t been properly trained. This time, the bar is manned with more confidence, although the drink list is not exactly endless. Also, I note that the Rialto breakfast leaves quite some room for improvement. I’m looking for a word here… ”boring…” Yes, that’s definitely it.

Three stars without flying colors.
Last time I was debating with myself whether three or four stars would be appropriate. Staff is friendly but still inexperienced. I will continue to recommend the Rialto if you’re coming to Warsaw and want to avoid any of the big chains. Competition from other small and individually styled hotels is not fierce, but growing. Things are happening in Poland. This year, Atelier Amaro became the first Polish restaurant with a Michelin star. This is only the beginning. In any case, the Rialto will have to step up their game. I hope they will. Yes, I do.

The Hotel Rialto
ul Wilcza 73
00-670 Warsaw
Poland
+48 22 58 48 700


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  1. Pingback: MaMaison Le Regina Hotel, Warsaw, Poland | GUIDEBOOK.SE

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