Back in the early 19th century, when Frenchman Jean Georg Haffner returned to Sopot, his aim was to build a spa and health resort in the wonderful place he’d discovered while marching east as a doctor with Napoleon’s army some years before.
In 1823, he opened the first Bath House (Warmbad to the Germans) which offered a range of treatments and baths. The first Resort House (Salon or a Kursaal) was opened in 1824, changing rooms added on the beach and a small pier built.
Haffner died in 1830, but his legacy didn’t. Stewardship passed into the hands of the Böttcher family who added another storey to the Resort House, featuring 12 modest hotel rooms, while Haffner himself entered folklore, today revered as the father of modern Sopot. It’s for this reason you’ll find the town bristling with hotels, streets and monuments in his honour.
When Sopot, or Zoppot as it was then known, was connected by rail to Berlin in 1870, the resort’s popularity grew. The existing buildings were pulled down and a new complex, in effect the second Resort House was built.
Opened in 1881, this symmetrically fronted building with its two towers faced the sea featured a magnificent vestibule opening onto the restaurants and a ballroom and more hotel rooms were added.
There was a concert arena located in the northern wing of the Resort Square (recreated next to the Sheraton) and the area was crowned by a magnificent fountain in 1903.
Still the resort grew and in 1903 and 1907 new complexes of baths were added and the pier extended by 160m in 1910. The Second Resort House, barely 30 years old, and despite renovations, was no longer suitable for the demands placed upon it, and in 1909 it was levelled to the ground and replaced by a third. Gdansk architect Carl Weber designed and built the new Resort House which was constructed in record time between September 30th 1909 and 15th June 1910. The new Resort House was like nothing that had come before, containing snazzy mod-cons like boilers, cold storage rooms and a telephone switchboard. Pride of place went to a 540 sq/m concert hall known as the Red Room. Good times were seen as key to success, and as such the Resort Square side was given over to restaurants with a combined capacity for over 2,000 guests.
The square itself was extended from 6,000 to 9,000m2, an 80-room hotel built and the brick verandas added on the eastern side. These wind breaks were replaced by galleries in 1928, and still exist in their original form.
In 1919, and with Sopot about to become part of the Free City of Danzig, the famous casino came into being with Roulette played in one room, Baccarat in another and a Kasino bar in the third. This was to become the focal point of Sopot and the inter-war period saw the town experience its golden age.
Even though the spa town lost its shine under communism, people from all over the country came here to take in the fresh air - walking along the beach path is particularly popular for the exposure to iodine that it supposedly gives you. In fact children from the industrial south are still sent here by their schools each year.
Now the Resort House has returned in its fourth incarnation. The development was formally opened to the public on July 18th, 2009 and the sparkling development hasn’t foregone the past – the rotunda is a faithful reproduction, while the fountain is a restored original.
Today Sopot offers a wide choice of spa and beauty treatments in some wonderfully elegant and thoroughly modern settings. The Tri-city has become exceedingly popular, particularly with our friends from across the water in Scandinavia and it’s now very typical to find visitors popping over for 2-3 nights to visit the spa, masseuse, hairdresser and beauty salons before dressing up and heading out for dinner and drinks. With that demand you’ll find most hotels now have spa and stay breaks in their range of offers and here we’ve tried to highlight the best and the most memorable.