In a city where nearly every hotel is priced somewhere between $60 and $140 a night, the Golden Royal Hotel of Košice stands out. That’s because it’s the only one with, get this, an ayurvedic spa run by staffers from India.
When you’re the second city in the second country of the former Czechoslovakia, it’s hard to pull in a flood of tourists, especially when you’re not on a major river like Slovakia’s capital, Bratislava. For adventurers looking to get away from Europe’s throng of tour buses and crowded monuments, however, the historic city of Kosice is a score. The well-preserved center is pedestrian only for what feels like a mile. Anchored by a Gothic cathedral, a 14th-century chapel, and an 1899 state theater, the sidewalks are lined with lively cafes pouring great local beers for a shade over a euro. (Less at happy hour.)
Golden Royal is a rambling 24-room hotel that looks deceptively smaller from the outside than it really is. Rooms branch off in several directions in connected buildings, with passages up and down short staircases that lead to hallways you didn’t think existed. In the middle, the former courtyard is a covered “winter garden” used for functions.
The main restaurant is a casual buffet set-up for breakfast, included in the rates. In the evening the space transforms into an elegant, more formal affair with a good wine list and pretty versions of local classics. Alas, the Michael Bolton CD stuck on repeat on the sound system during my whole visit didn’t make me want to linger any longer than necessary.
Rooms are quirky and interesting, befitting a historic building. with a mix of furniture styles and baths that may be shower only or have a hand shower in a tub. Wi-Fi is included and works well in most rooms, while other amenities include a minibar, turndown service with a chocolate, towel warmers, satellite TV with a couple English channels, and basic toiletries.
Service is friendly and the front desk staffers speak English well.
Rates at the Golden Royal in Kosice officially run 85 to 145 euros, though you’ll often find it for less through European booking sites. Massages and other ayurvedic treatments are very reasonable and even if you don’t take advantage of those, the spa facilities are open to guests.
For more information on the hotel, see the Hotel Royal Kosice site. For more info on Košice and its surroundings, see the Slovakia Travel site and follow this end link for all the activities coming up when the city is a European Capital of Culture in 2013.
Book online at Priceline.
Review and photos by Tim Leffel, author of The World’s Cheapest Destinations. He was a guest of Slovakia Tourism while doing research for another publication.