A crossroads of artists and intellectuals when Poland opened up to trade and industry. Today five hundred works of art between the hall and the suites
The architect Enrico Marconi spent most of his life in Warsaw, so much so that he was known as Henryk. Belonging to a family of architects from Mantua, after graduating from the University of Bologna, he moved to Poland in 1822, then “Kingdom of Congress” – a vassal state under the control of the Russian Empire. Here he gets his first assignment from the Polish general Ludwik Michał Pac to finish building a palace at Dowspuda. Satisfied with the results obtained, Pac introduces him to the capital’s environments for new orders. Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, Marconi works for the Council of State, building the Church of All Saints and the Zamoyski Palace, the current headquarters of the University of Warsaw. During the mid-nineteenth century, Enrico Marconi was commissioned to build the Hotel Europejski, designed to accommodate foreign bankers and merchants who had come to the city, which had become a center for trade and industry in those years.
Opened in 1857, the hotel is within easy reach of the Royal Road, the Academy of Fine Arts and the University. Columns, pilasters and aedicule windows create panels and frames on the façade – neo-Renaissance symmetry. The elite of the Polish society of the time passes from here. Intellectuals, painters, writers and poets gather in the salons or at the tables of the Lourse Warszawa – the pastry shop inside the hotel. Visit the Salon des Refusés on the second floor, the gallery of Aleksander Krywult, an art merchant who presents Polish realist and impressionist artists of the time – Leon Wyczółkowski, Józef Pankiewicz or Józef Chełmoński -, breaking with academicism in painting. Chełmoński’s own studio – considered the birthplace of Polish realism – is located in Europejski, on the top floor and shares it with Antoni Piotrowski, an illustrator who works for the Times, Le Monde and The Graphic.
During the Second World War the hotel was damaged and in 1948 the building ended up under the control of the Ministry of National Defense, destined to host the Military Academy of Feliks Dzierżyński. Between 1957 and 1961 the building was adapted for receptive purposes under the name of Orbis Europejski and for much of the second half of the twentieth century it is considered the best hotel to stay in the People’s Republic of Poland. Once independence was obtained from the Soviet Union, after several years of mixed fortunes, it was only in 2005 that the heirs of the rightful owners regained possession of the Hotel.
Inaugurated again in mid-2018 and managed by the Asian hotel chain Raffles, Europejski has renewed itself by relocating itself as a reference point for the hotel industry in the Polish capital. The works were carried out in collaboration with the Office for the Conservation of Monuments: the neo-Renaissance facade has been restored, while the interiors, designed by the designer Boris Kudlička, preserve the features of the original structure, combined with contemporary architectural elements. Venetian chandeliers illuminate the interior spaces, alternating with neon lamps and modern design furniture.
The patron of art Vera Michalski-Hoffmann, one of the owners of the Europejski, carries on the artistic vocation of the hotel, which today exhibits over five hundred works in an installation by art historian Anda Rottenberg and curator Barbara Piwowarska. Guests are accompanied by an art concierge who tells the collection, distributed in the common areas and in the 106 rooms.
The Europejski Grill restaurant, designed by the Spanish designer Lazaro Rosa Violan, is adorned with hand-painted ceramic plates in shades of blue and white, which pay tribute to the craft tradition of Polish ceramics from Nieborów, a manufacture founded in 1881 by Prince Michał Piotr Radziwiłł. The eklerki – creamy Polish cream puffs – are still served in the Lourse Warszawa pastry shop, where in the afternoon you can find yourself having a cup of tea observing an installation on the border between sculpture and architectural deconstruction by Monika Sosnowska or a painting by Wilhelm Sasnal . At the Long Bar, the atmosphere is that of the 1920s – leather stools surround the long marble counter. Looking at the work of Jarosław Fliciński behind the barman (Fliciński is a contemporary painter who enters a creative dialogue with architecture, his works are abstractions, composed of geometric models: stars, circles, opattern lines), you can order a Singapore Sling – the signature cocktail created in 1915 by Ngiam Tong Boon in the Raffles hotel in Singapore – or its revisitation in a varsaviana key.
Text Agnieszka Faferek
Krakowskie Przedmieście 13,