Location: Old Town
A couple of friends were in town just before Christmas and were staying at the Tulip House, which gave me my second opportunity to check out what is widely regarded as one of Bratislava’s best boutique hotels.
Second viewings concluded what the first had: that there’s very little to fault. The Tulip Cafe at street level sets the tone: those smart whites, beiges and dark-wood trim that a lot of upper-end places across Slovakia favour; that elegance that seems torn between sticking to the traditional and striving to be modern.
The theme continues up to the rooms. The rooms are all suites, here. You could fit two of most normal hotel rooms into each. The reception areas are large (made larger by the presence of strategically placed mirrors) with tea- and coffee-making facilities, the rooms have wall-mounted plasma TVs and, among other more unusual features, bed mattresses are designed to be allergy-proof and shoe shine services are offered whilst you sleep (!). They were serving complementary mulled wine upon arrival, too. The “but” which of course you sense is coming? Something is lacking. Atmosphere. Esotericism. Struggle as I might, I could find nothing exceptional to say about the Tulip House (and I can be verbose): for a 5-star boutique hotel in a capital city, it falls short of my expectations.
From outside the looks are promising. A haughty old building smack bang in Bratislava Old Town, and within five minutes’ walk of all the city centre attractions, and nothing but a very elegant layout inside which would make any business traveller very content: one could say I’m being too critical. Perhaps it’s because, at the end of the day, we’re pretty quirky ourselves at englishmaninslovakia.com. And when I stay in a boutique hotel, I want it to be rich in character. I want its take on luxury to be OUT of the ordinary. That would be why I would stay, instead of, for example, at a bona fide business hotel. Character, Tulip House? Rather lacking for me. But for large, smart, centrally-located Old Town rooms, you could not fare much better.
For the finer details, breakfast and lunch, and coffee and cakes, are served in the Tulip cafe; the Rhapsody Restaurant is for more formal dining. There’s also a spa (Turkish bath, Finnish sauna) and fitness centre.
The disclaimer with the Tulip House is that its real speciality, for those who really wish to splash the cash on their stay in Bratislava are its penthouse suites – five of them – with the pièce de resistance having a fireplace, a terrace with good views of Bratislava castle, and 200 metres squared of leg room. So there’s two sides to every story.
ADDRESS: Štúrova 10
PRICE: For 2015, suite prices (there are five different kinds including the two types of penthouse) start at 102 Euros. But for this you need to book online – and in advance, often, and the cheapest deal by the time you book will likely be in the region of 200 Euros. However, the penthouses will set you back around 550 Euros for the smaller ones or 850 Euros for the biggest one.