History In The Heart Of Warsaw
Being one of the oldest hotels in Warsaw - Polonia Palace Hotel - was opened on 14th July 1913. Count Konstanty Przeździecki had invested 1100 000 rubles in its premises and managed the hotel till 1939. His family had already been known for administering European Hotel in Warsaw, built by his grandfather, Aleksander. The name ‘Polonia Palace’ was not a random choice – this was a Period of Partition and such a strong patriotic accent in the heart of Vistula Land’s capital was supposed to raise the spirits of its inhabitants.
The final design of the hotel emerged from the collaboration of two architects: Józef Holewiński and Juliusz Nagórski. After Neo-Renaissance Bristol Hotel, Polonia Palace became the first building in Warsaw which was entirely inspired by Parisian style, starting with a characteristic mansard roof and finishing with Louis XVI style furniture in its French restaurant, where meals were served by French waiters. Additionally the hotel offered such novelties as a telephone in each of 160 rooms and hot and cold running water, even if only six apartments were complemented with bathrooms. Other innovations included: central heating in the whole building including garages for cars (in fact - closed boxes), desks with typewriters, a fire-proof safe and auto-omnibus service transporting guests to all the capital’s stations. There were also attractions like: ‘café with a room for ladies, hairdresser’s salon for ladies and gentlemen, perfumery with most fashionable specifics, wine cellar with excellent choice of wines from European and Polonia Hotels’ offer, and non-chloride laundrette’ with the newest imported appliances.
In 1924 hotel premises were extended by a new dancehall (it was additionally restored and expanded one year before the Second World War) and Rolf Roy, a famous, internationally recognized and prized Viennese dancer, was appointed as its artistic manager. However, it was still the ballroom with its marble fireplaces which remained the most elegant room of the hotel, where the parties and receptions for the most eminent guests were thrown. Polonia Palace Hotel seemed to be an obvious place to such notables for its favorable location; opposite the Warsaw - Vienna Railway Station. At this very station, in 1929 one of the most outstanding guests of the hotel, Amanullah Khan, the Sovereign of Kingdom of Afghanistan was welcome by the officials. The Second Republic of Poland (known also as: Commonwealth of Poland) authorities honored him with the Order of the White Eagle then. Four years before that date there had been held a great ball of dramatists and playwrights in Polonia Palace Hotel and such artists as Jan Lechoń, Stefan Żeromski, Ludwik Solski, Kornel Makuszyński, Maria Pawlikowska, Józef Węgrzyn and Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński had added splendor to the venue. The author of ‘Flirt z Melpomeną’ / ‘Flirting with Melpomena’ and ‘Piekło kobiet’ / ‘Women’s Hell’ had celebrated his jubilee organized by PEN Club, Jan Kiepura was giving concerts during lavish banquets. Also, from the opening day to the outbreak of the Second World War Polish Arts Club operated in Polonia Palace Hotel, organizing a vast range of prestigious events. In 1931 the Pre-Academic School of Hotel Management established by Naczelna Organizacja Polskiego Przemysłu Hotelarskiego / the General Organization of Polish Hotel Industry opened its premises in Polonia Palace. The hotel became a favorite spot for both meetings and accommodation of diplomats and aristocrats, who used to sumptuously celebrate winter and ‘green’ carnivals in there.
During the Second World War Polonia became headquarters for German Officers. At the time of Warsaw Uprising it functioned as a hospital and a supply base for fighting soldiers and civilians, who used its food provisions to survive.
Neither was Polonia Palace Hotel burnt down by Nazis, nor plundered by the Red Army. Members of its loyal staff, formerly relocated to the temporary camp in Pruszków, came back to the capital, risking their lives, and closed the hotel down. As it was the only hotel in Warsaw which had survived the war, in September 1945 it was visited by General Dwight Eisenower. For the same reason, in the post-war period diplomatic missions, consulates and foreign correspondents became residents of Polonia. In 1953 the hotel started to provide food for Eastern Bloc, compulsorily serving meals during banquets for diplomats from communist states on site and in various locations of the capital, i.e. Grand Theatre, where 800 guests were invited to honor Zhou Enlai, the First Prime Minister of People’s Republic of China. Tables were covered with culinary masterpieces – live images of pâté and cold meats formed a carriage pulled by six horses and burning ice-cream formed a shape of a boat with lampions inside. Those delicious works of art were prepared by the former employees of Bristol Hotel. 5th International Chopin Piano Competition revolutionized hotel’s interiors for a while. On the request of the contestants, who stayed at Polonia for the short period, the entire 4th floor was emptied and refurnished with over a dozen of pianos. One of them was used by Adam Harasiewicz. Metropol Hotel was built in 1965; as it adjoined Polonia, the two hotels started to function as one unit.
Knocking down original stuccowork, replacing marble with terrazzo and other changes along with the complete modernization of Ludwikowska ballroom were just few unrealized ideas for the general, post-war restoration of Polonia. Although it had been planned during Władysław Gomułka’s rule, for financial reasons it was conducted when Edward Gierek came to power and therefore when architectural designs and solutions ceased to be so dependent on communist party guidelines. This saved the pre-war character of the hotel. In rooms restored in reasonable manner there were held congresses of technicians, steelworkers, and unions, organized along with events such as Book Fair. The book of guests was full of signatures left by representatives of national football team like Zbigniew Boniek, Grzegorz Lato or Jan Tomaszewski and most popular artists and music bands such as ‘Skaldowie’, ‘Czerwone Gitary’ or Poznańskie Słowiki. It was also there, where the celebrations on the occasion of founding the first Polish Community company were held. From 1974 the hotel along with the neighboring Metropol was managed by the board of Warsaw Tourist Enterprise Syrena appointed by the Mayor of Warsaw. The name of the group which manages Polonia Palace, Metropol and MDM Hotels nowadays – Syrena Hotel Group - relates to the former tradition. It also celebrates the best pre-war patterns, offering – after the two latest renovations; general in 2001-2004 and partial in 2010 – refreshed, but also – thanks to modern solutions – functional interiors. In 2013 the hotel celebrated its centenary.
Diplomatic Missions and Consulates in Polonia Palace Hotel (1945-1951)
The building survived the war and Polonia opened its door again on 13th April 1945. At that time Polonia Palace was the best hotel in Warsaw and many diplomatic representatives had their offices there, i.a.:
1. Argentine Republic 1947-1948
2. Republic of Austria 1947-1948
3. Kingdom of Belgium 1946-1951
4. People's Republic of Bulgaria 1946-1948
5. Republic of Chechoslovakia 1945 - 1946
6. Kingdom of Denmark 1946-1950
7. Kingdom of Egypt 1946-1951
8. Republic of Finland 1946-1948
9. Kingdom of the Netherlands 1946-1948
10. Grand Duchy of Luxembourg 1946-1949
11. United Mexican States 1946-1947
12. Kingdom of Norway 1946-1947
13. Romania (3 names of the country within that period of time) 1946-1950
14. Republic of Turkey 1947-1949
15. Hungarian Republic 1947-1949
16. United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland 1946
17. Kingdom of Italy 1946
18. United States of America 1946-1948
19. Kingdom of Sweden 1945