Reviewing Bratislava

Reviewing Bratislava - Bratislava, Slovakia

Ever wonder what goes on in the head of a EuroCheapo Editor during a research trip? Wonder no longer. Features Editor Alex Robertson Textor self-administers a little Q and A here, listing his favorite Bratislava hotels and extolling the virtues of Slovak cuisine along the way.

1. Favorite hotels.

I love the Hotel-Penzion Arcus. It's a beautiful small pension with reasonable rates, just a short tram ride (or medium-length walk) from Staré Mesto. It's the very welcoming management that makes Arcus so special. The back garden—inviting in warmer weather—is an additional treat.

Hotel Antares, which sits in a villa in the hills above Staré Mesto, feels like an elegant secret. Its rates may be on the pricey side for our listings, but for those looking for a little boutique hotel splash, it's top dog.

Lastly, the Botel Gracia's simple modern charms are utterly beguiling. If you want to feel like you've entered a time machine and ended up in Bratislava on assignment in the final years of the Cold War, this is the place to shack up for a few nights. Expect fake wood paneling and cute little inset desks in compact quarters.

2. Favorite thing about working in Bratislava.

I'm a huge fan of Bratislava. It's compact, gorgeous, and (aside from the oddly expensive hotels) extremely affordable.

I love how architecturally varied Bratislava is. For me, the juxtaposition of the modern Slovak National Uprising monument next to a Baroque church is a defining statement of the city's architectural mish-mash. Staré Mesto is littered with gorgeous Gothic and Baroque buildings, though the Old Town's architectural gems also include the grand Neo-Renaissance Slovak National Theatre and the remarkable Neo-Classical Primate's Palace.

3. What surprised you about Bratislava?

I'd last visited Bratislava on a day trip from Vienna and didn't spend the night, so I was surprised by how expensive hotels in Bratislava are.

4. Funny story.

I arrived in Bratislava very early in the morning, after an all-night train journey from Poland. I was exhausted, and my hotel didn't have any rooms available. So I wandered the streets of Staré Mesto for several hours, taking a ton of photos as I stumbled around. When it came time for breakfast, I popped into a little café and ordered a toasted sandwich and coffee.

Before I travel I often download music popular in the places I'm going to visit. A song—by, it turns out, a Slovak singer named Peter Cmorik—that I recognized from my advance research was being played on the radio. I tried to ask the proprietor the name of the artist singing the song. In my stupor I forgot that I can't communicate in Slovak, and that my attempts to order breakfast in English and German had been received shakily. "Slowakische?" I asked, pointing to the ceiling, in the general direction of the music. She sort of nodded and we both laughed.

5. Favorite local food.

Pretty much everything they served at Prašná Bašta hit the spot. I followed up my long work days with especially big dinners in Bratislava, and Prašná Bašta's Central European cuisine provided just the right sustenance. Prašná Bašta is a good place for people excited by schnitzels, pancakes, and fried cheese. For those inexplicably unmoved by such culinary genius, Prašná Bašta is probably not the best place for dinner.

6. Highlight of visit.

Would it be too crazy to cite the fried cheese at Prašná Bašta? Haha. Wandering the streets of Staré Mesto just past dawn was quite an experience. With nobody around, I felt as if I were in my own fairytale world.

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