9 May 2016

Where to stay in Slovakia: Grand Hotel Kempinski High Tatras

One day, birds woke me up at 6:20 in the morning – I got up just to take a quick peek through the window. I think I must have said “Wow!” out loud when I saw the Tatras perfectly reflecting in the serene surface of Lake Štrbské Pleso as if it was a spotless mirror. Needles to say, I was awake within an instant and forgot about the warm bed; I grabbed my camera and went for a stroll near the lake – no photographer should miss that view.

When I want to unwind, I usually opt for little, cosy and charming couple- or family-run places, preferably in the middle of nowhere and close to nature, with as few rooms as possible. Still, Grand Hotel Kempinski in Slovakia drew my attention with its sublime luxury located in one of the most breathtaking spots in the Tatra Mountains – just at the foot of a glacial mountain lake at 1,351 meters above sea level and with a dramatic panorama of the High Tatras to wake up to every morning. 

The hotel opened in 2009 after years of reconstruction during which the purpose was to preserve the building’s original historic appearance as much as possible. Now it’s a luxurious 98-room hotel made for both active and relaxing stays – it can be a starting point for an adventurous hiking trip in the Tatra National Park, a base for visiting the Spiš region or just a place to rest while enjoying a swimming pool, a jacuzzi or diverse treatments and rituals at Zion Spa Luxury. For the most romantic special occasions, there is a Honeymoon Suite with a hot tub on top of a private tower with a panoramic view at the mountains and valleys. Kids are also welcome – there is a Kids Club, special children menu at the restaurant and therapies for them to enjoy at the spa. 

Even if you don't plan to stay at Kempinski, the Grand Restaurant is a must-visit for a fine dining lover. Chef Tomáš Tejbus, born only few kilometres from the hotel, reinterprets typical Slovak dishes and uses seasonal ingredients from local suppliers to present them in a form of small masterpieces. Traditional pierogi with fresh local cheese, chive and bacon will be the most beautiful – and delicious – pierogi you’ll ever see. You should try exquisite meat from Small Carpathians, such as venison loin accompanied by chestnuts, black truffle, celeriac and rosehip, a cauliflower velouté parfumed with vanilla, and memorable desserts – such as the surprising but indescribably good combination of finest dark chocolate with truffle or Tejbus’s signature dessert – unforgettable chocolate nest with egg liquor. 

The chef’s dishes are a delight to watch and eat, and with an excellent wine pairing performed by a passionate sommelier Matúš Hamara they guarantee a true feast for the senses. Hamara modestly but enthusiastically introduces his guests to some amazing Slovak bottles. He truly understands how a glass of wine can complement a dish – and he complements them perfectly turning this dining experience into the most pleasurable moment. Kempinski High Tatras can also boast with one of the largest wine lists in Slovakia  – over 300 items – including a large collection of famous vintages from Château Pétrus.

The things I’ll remember the most from my stay – apart from exquisite dinners – will definitely be the view, both from the room and the bathroom. The scenery outside the window was always intriguing to look at as the landscape was changing throughout the day, making the spectacular mountains look different depending on the position of the sun or weather conditions. Also some details were memorable, such as sipping a warm infusion of mint, honey, ginger and gentian root while having a nice conversation with an esthetician at Zion Spa, or drinking a freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable smoothie during breakfast just after a morning dip in the pool. Or sitting in the evening near the fireplace in the lobby while listening to live music or other relaxing sounds – from Ana Moura, Anna Maria Jopek and others. And last but not least – a charming carriage ride to the Lakes of Love with a warm, funny and talkative coachman, his dog and adorable white horses.

Grand Hotel Kempinski High Tatras has everything what you would expect from a five star modern luxury experience: comfortable and spacious rooms, excellent world-class cuisine, a fantastic spa and impeccable service. But it is so much more than that – despite being one of the biggest hotel brands in the world, it gives its guests that warm feeling of cosiness, which, together with probably one of the best hotel views in Europe, makes you want to go back very soon, even if only for a short weekend getaway.

Practical info:

  • from 190 EUR/night, breakfast included
  • the room in the pictures: Deluxe Room Lake View
  • nearest airports: Poprad (TAT) – 28 km, Krakow Airport (KRK) – 165 km, Košice (KSC) – 145 km
  • à la carte fine dining restaurant – Grand Restaurant – is available on site serving local and international cuisine
  • address: Kúpel’na 6, 059 85, Štrbské Pleso, High Tatras, Slovak Republic (www)

 And yes, I already miss this morning view from my window...

I was welcomed to Grand Hotel Kempinski High Tatras as a guest. As always, my opinion is my own.


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