The Grand Hotel is almost a century old. The Sopot icon is still a symbol of luxury

Sopot’s Grand Hotel is one of the most famous hotels in Poland. Construction of the building, now operating under the name Sofitel Grand Sopot, began a century ago. The hotel was very luxurious and popular from the very first days after its opening. During its long history it has hosted the most famous people from the world of politics, music or cinema. Today, it is still very popular with celebrities from all over the world, being a great pride not only of Sopot, but of the entire Polish coast.

The mighty hotel was built between 1924 and 1927 in an eclectic style, combining features of Neo-Baroque and Art Nouveau. Initially, it was mainly intended for the guests of the nearby casino (Spielklub Zoppot), hence the building’s name, Kasino-Hotel, referring to it at the time.

Kasino-Hotel in Sopot, mid-1930s Source:

The design by two professors of the Royal Technical College in Gdansk, architect Ott Kloeppel and designer Richard Kohnke, was a paraphrase of the Grand Hotel built in 1911. Grand Hotel in Szczawno-Zdrój, renamed a few years later as the Silesian Manor (Schlesischer Hof), now the hospital-sanatorium Dom Zdrojowy. At the time of its commissioning, it was the most expensive, luxurious and refined hotel both in Sopot and in the whole of the Free City of Danzig.

Grand Hotel
Sopot with the hotel before the war. Source: NAC – National Digital Archive

The hotel was ceremonially opened in 1927, although it was finished successively until the Second World War. The “dancing floor” (Freiluft-Tanzdiele) built in front of the hotel from the sea was used for dancing by, among others, the American jazz band of Erich Borchard and the orchestras of Erich Bördel from the state radio in Königsberg and Arnold Hilden from the Mokka-Effi-Bar in Berlin. The palates of the guests were looked after by, among others, the famous confectioners from the Czech town of Karlove Vary. In 1931, an exclusive casino (International Sporting-Club) was opened in the hotel on the south side. In 1939, two shelters were added to the building.

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Grand Hotel in 1949. Photo: National Library of Poland, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

After the outbreak of World War II, battles for Oksywie and the Hel Peninsula were directed from the building. In the second half of September 1939, the hotel served as the headquarters of Adolf Hitler, who left Sopot twice for the outskirts of defending Warsaw. The Führer’s Sopot quarters were guarded by, among others, two hundred officers of the SS-Wachsturmbann “Eimann” unit. From 1944 to 1945, it housed the Military Evacuation Hospital.

The Grand Hotel in 1949 and 2018. Photo National Library of Poland , Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons and DerHexer, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The second time the hotel made history was when, from the capture of Sopot on 23 March 1945, the building served as the headquarters of the Red Army’s White Front. The edifice fortunately avoided total destruction, although it was damaged to some extent. In the spring of 1945, it was handed over to the Polish military authorities, who, with the forces of the K. Rudzki i S-ka of Warsaw removed the war damage (under the direction of Wacław Przerwa), placed the Evacuation Hospital No. 62, which had been transferred from Lublin, in it, and then the local military command.

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Grand Hotel cafeteria, 1960s Source: State Archive in Gdańsk – Gdynia Branch

A year later, at the request of Antoni Turek, the mayor of Sopot, the building was handed over to the city authorities by the decision of Marshal Michał Roli-Żymierski. The building was reopened as a hotel. Since then, it has hosted hundreds of eminent figures: statesmen (monarchs, presidents, prime ministers, politicians) and stars of stage and film. Among those who have stayed at the hotel are King Alfonso XIII of Spain, Nina Andrycz, Charles Aznavour, Josephine Baker, Fidel Castro, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Charles de Gaulle, Henry Kissinger, Demis Roussos, Shakira, Omar Sharif, Boney M or Annie Lennox.

29 August 1976 The “Skorpio” team, from right: Karoly Frenreisz, Gyula Papp, Gabor Nemeth, Antal Szucs, on the steps of the Grand Hotel. Source: NAC – National Digital Archive

After the Second World War (until around the 1960s), the hotel continued the stage tradition of the ‘dancing floor’, with guests being entertained by, among others, Leopold Hermann’s Dixieland orchestra. In the summer of 1970, Poland’s first disco, the “Musicorama”, was launched in the hotel’s Tourist Hall.

In 1990, a casino was opened in the hotel, the third in Poland after Warsaw and Krakow. In 2006, the building was modernised, after which it was classified among the highest standard facilities in the country (***** Palace), with a library, among other things. Currently, the hotel operates under the Sofitel brand, a chain owned by the French hotel group Accor. It is the most prestigious hotel in the entire Tri-City, next to the pier and the Forest Opera House it is a landmark of Sopot.


Read also: Architecture in Poland | Hotel | Monument | History | Eclecticism | Sopot

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