June 23, 2008

Apartment Reserved in Kraków
Islamorada, United States

I've been searching high and low for a place to stay ever since Poland turned out to be our point of arrival in Eastern Europe. Given the number of hours we'll be traveling to get there, and the tourist-laden time of year, I thought it best to secure a room in advance (for at least our first night or two in town).

It's not a natural or particularly comfortable thing for me to book a room online before seeing it, but I understand how the game is played during the peak seasons in this region of the world, as so I play.

The predicament encountered (that quickly turned ugly) was the price of accommodations in the city. There are dozens and dozens of hotels in Kraków, but even the average price of a bunk bed in a shared 10-person room was hovering around $13-18/night. And the private rooms? Forget about it. We're talking $65-100/night—the majority of which sported communal bathrooms, or required you provide your own bed linen.

Getting discouraged, and more than a little nervous, I turned to the Lonely Plane message forum and apartment rental Web sites. Although the majority of the rooms for rent were priced at levels that we simply couldn't consider, I sent e-mails off to a handful agencies with our arrival date, intended duration of stay (seven nights), and desired price range.

The LP forum was, as it can often be, a dud. This type of response is typical:

50 PLN a night is dreaming I'm afraid. Thats $22.50. For all the effort getting overseas… especially with child… spend some cash for comfort and more than a park bench with a newspaper and make yourself less miserable.

My response:

(sigh) — if a park bench costs $22.50/night, that's what's going to make me miserable… not the bench itself.

After some back and forth with a few agencies (most of whom scoffed at my desired price), today one finally coughed up a big enough discounted rate on one of their tiny studio apartments.

SODISPAR Apartments consistently gets back to my e-mails very promptly and professionally, and requires no deposit to hold a room (just a copy of the incoming plane ticket). The agreed upon price of 490 Polish zlotys (US$233) for seven nights can be paid on arrival or departure, and offers up the following amenities (according to our correspondence):

SODISPAR Aparthotel & office is located at Lubelska street no. 12, 15 min. walk from the Old Town and 20 min. from the train station or 5 min. by taxi for 8-12PLN/2-3EUR (taxi stand/rank 50 meters).

  • All apartments/rooms have private bathroom and equipped kitchen;
  • Free Internet access in every room and free computer room 24h;
  • Free TV Sat (CNN/BBC, 20 German, 6 French, 3 Italian, Polish);
  • Free laundrette, rooms with hair dryer, iron ironing board;
  • Free towels & bedlinen and cleaning (weekly); and
  • Free local calls (limited) - own phone number and direct dial

So, breaking down the price of the room: That's about $33/night, or $16.50/person/night—about on par with the price of a dorm bed in a shared room. I wish it could be cheaper, and I wish the impending price of our accommodations didn't stress me out the way it does, but I suppose this will be the price we'll have to pay to explore this part of the world (especially with an infant in tow). We're both more than aware that we'll be sleeping in shared dorm rooms at least part of the time we're in Europe.

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