The Hotel Polski pod Białym Orłem is one of Kraków’s oldest hotels. In city documents from the second half of the 18th century there is a mention of two tenement houses situated at the Royal Route, in the vicinity of St. Florian’s Gate, one of which served as an inn known as “Under the While Eagle”. The other one, located at the street corner, was also home to a small brewery. In 1913 both houses became the property of Prince Adam Ludwik Czartoryski who later modernised them by creating the “Hotel Polski”.
In the 1950s’ the hotel became property of the state under Communist rule. In December 1991, after the change of the political system, it returned to its rightful owners. It was also when it assumed its new extended name: “Hotel Polski pod Białym Orłem” (“under the White Eagle”). Since July 2014 it is run under the management of the Donimirski Boutique Hotels.
The Czartoryski Princely House, using the Pogoń Litewska coat of arms, is one of the most eminent aristocratic Polish families. Closely related to the Jagiellons, it derives its kin from the Grand Duke of Lithuania, Gediminas. Their princely rank reaches back to the 13th century, when their forbears were the rulers of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In 1386 their cousin, Prince Jagiełło (ca. 1352-1434) became baptised and married the Queen of Poland, Jadwiga. Crowned as King Władysław II Jagiełło, he started the royal dynasty of the Jagiellons.
Through the ages, many of the Czartoryski family members held important positions in the country thus contributing to its economic and military growth. During the time of partitions, Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski (1770-1861) became the leader of the Polish Government-in-Exile in Paris which operated in the family residence, the Hôtel Lambert.
The interiors of the Hotel Polski pod Białym Orłem are decorated with reproductions of the works from the collection of the Princes Czartoryski Museum in Kraków. It is the oldest museum in Poland dedicated to the preservation of our patriotic and historical heritage. It owes its existence to Princess Izabela Czartoryska née Fleming. It was her who, upon the loss of Poland’s independence, started her art collection in Puławy in 1801, under the apt motto: The Past to the Future. Initially the collection was exhibited in Puławy, in buildings designed specifically for this purpose: the Temple of the Sibyl and the Gothic House. After the November Uprising was crushed in 1830, a large part of the collection fell victim to Russian looters. The surviving exhibits were eventually evacuated to Paris and placed at the Hôtel Lambert, which belonged to the Czartoryski family. It was there that the collection was restored and extended. In the 1870s’ Prince Władysław Czartoryski decided to have the exhibits moved to Kraków. The Museum, open since 1876, displays West European painting, military antiquities, Near Eastern art, artistic handicrafts as well as ancient objects. Without a doubt the most precious exhibits are Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine, and Rembrandt van Rijn’s Landscape with Good Samaritan. The collection also used to include Raphael’s Portrait of a Young Man, stolen by the Nazis during World War II.