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As part of Eurotrip 2014, I found myself in the position of being on a train to Bratislava, Slovakia.
Once there, me and my friend Angie got out of the train station, hopped in a cab, and promptly got scammed by a cabbie with a hot meter. Between that and the somewhat griminess of the train station, I was
kinda definitely thinking, “What the hell did I get myself into?”
However, I am happy to report, I ultimately found Bratislava to be a progressive city, one rebuilding itself, modernizing in the right ways, and moving full-force into new and diverse industries. The atmosphere of the city was energetic. I could feel the momentum and drive in the air, which was wonderful.
And aside from that one cab driver, everyone else was completely kind and even eager to talk. I also saw lots of tourists, which apparently Club Carlson hasn’t caught onto yet, because the Park Inn by Radisson Danube is a mere Category 1, requiring just 9,000 Gold Points for two award nights (if you have the US Bank Club Carlson Visa Signature card).
The Park Inn by Radisson Danube shares a space with lots of vendors on the ground/retail floor, but it’s fairly obvious where it’s located – at the base of a little square, nearest to the river. I had to look for the sign and wasn’t sure exactly where I was going, but I went with it and ended up at the right place (the taxi driver only gave vague hand motions and spoke no English so I wandered away after being scammed for 20 Euros – grrr).
Check-in was very routine. I was placed in a “Business room.” The agent acknowledged my Gold status and thanked me for staying. Then I headed to the elevator and up to my room.
Everything about it was very Park Inn-ish, from the hallways, carpets, and windows, to the footer/runner thing they always put at the end of the bed. I always throw that thing in a corner. That thing just kills me.
The bed was incredibly comfy and was tucked into its own little “cove”. There were blackout curtains on the windows.
The room was arranged well and had a nice flow, very logically put together. The bathroom was broken into two separate rooms – the toilet was its own separate room, and the sink and shower were in another.
The only toiletries provided was a little squeeze pump of generic soap, just like the Park Inn at Munich. Can’t I even get one of those little shampoos?
I was located on the 4th floor, but had a great view of the Danube River, and of Hrad Castle, which was situated right across from the hotel.
It’s really well-located, an easy walk to the old town, the castle, and the Danube River. I had a great time in Bratislava with the Park Inn as my home base.
Breakfast was included for free in the room rate, so of course every day was a $#!+ show down there. I managed to weasel into a seat each day, but man, people are so hard to deal with first thing in the morning.
It was pretty basic, the usual staples. Four tables in a square shaped lined with everything, and another against a wall with yogurts and granola.
The Park Inn here was, as stated, very Park Inn-ish, but a mish-mash in other ways.
There is a fairly nice-looking cocktail lounge on the main floor and then an unaffiliated but attached Asian restaurant called Buddha Brothers right next to it.
There was very little decor or indication where the Park Inn stopped and the other things began, so I relied heavily on branding and signage to figure out what was what.
And then there was some truly bizarre art hanging around:
But on the plus side, Bratislava had great local beer and I got a t-shirt at the castle:
And the to-go cocktails were mad cheap. Anybody want a roadie?
In all seriousness, Bratislava surprised the hell out of me. The medieval parts of the city are stunning. You can still see the old walls and feel all the history that has happened there, but they’re modernizing well and trying so hard to get into the Eurozone. I found nothing more than a city finding its footing, and doing it really elegantly. I would bet that in another 10 years, people will be talking about Bratislava. It’s literally 30 minutes from Vienna but nowhere near as diverse with their economy and culture – yet. Really curious to see how this city transforms itself in the next decade.
13,500 Gold Points for a room that would’ve otherwise cost me $262 (that was was a “premium” award!)? Yes, please. That’s nearly 2 cents per point – amazing for hotel currency.
My friend stayed at a Starwood property on the other side of the old town and reported a very pleasant experience there as well.
After Bratislava, I headed to Budapest to continue Eurotrip 2014.
I found the Park Inn by Radisson Danube to be a great base to begin getting to know Bratislava. It was cheap, clean, and more than ample. Quiet, well-located… I had a great stay here and would gladly return. In fact, I want to soon. I find it fascinating to watch cities undergoing transformations as drastic as what I sensed in Bratislava.
Has anyone else been to this Park Inn or to Slovakia? Would love to hear some insider stories about Bratislava!
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