Finding romance in Poland
When you think of romantic getaways, does Poland come to mind? Probably not—especially for our U.S. readers. When I visited the Baltic region of Poland and Germany last year, I discovered that romantic Poland definitely exits. And, the experience is filled not only with romance but also with the complicated history of Western Pomerania (as the area was known before WWII) set amidst a bucolic countryside. Take a look at my suggestions for three getaways in Poland. Try them on separate visits or combine the accommodations into a romantic road trip. One thing to remember about staying in the historic lodging choices of Western Pomerania—most of the buildings have changed over the years due to conflicts as well as neglect during the Cold War. Sometimes, only the footprint of a castle remains.
Discover romantic Poland in a 15th century knight’s castle
A 2-1/2 hour drive west of Gdansk (approximately 102 miles or 165 km), Hotel Podewills Castle is surrounded by forested hills and lakes of the Krag countryside. The 15th century knight’s castle was built between two lakes and the back terrace overlooks one of them. The terrace is an especially romantic place to be on a crisp fall day when the forest is painted orange and gold from the changing leaves.
From the photos on the Hotel Podewills Castle website, you can see that there are some romantic looking rooms on offer. Unfortunately, mine wasn’t one of them. The room was rustic but serviceable, certainly not in the luxurious or romantic category of hotel rooms. All the niceties were there—satellite TV, complimentary internet, mini-bar, passable view from the window—but the hard mattress on the bed, scruffy towels and the basic bathroom with temperamental shower made the room feel, well, basic.
But the rooms aren’t why you’d plan a romantic escape to Hotel Podewills Castle. It’s the ambiance of the place. After all, you’re staying in a 15th century knight’s castle that has evolved through time and been shaped by the complicated history of Western Pomerania. As in many historic buildings in the area, Hotel Podewills Castle fell into ruins after World War II. The castle was actually damaged by artillery fire from the war followed by years of neglect during communist times.
The current owner has authentically restored the castle, especially when it comes to the public rooms. On a fall day, you’ll find a blazing fire in the fireplace of the lobby. And, if you’re lucky, there will be a public piano concert on the 100-year-old Bechstein Grand Piano in the second-story salon. Meals are available in The Castle Restaurant with a setting that overlooks the terrace and lake. The buffet breakfast is included in the room rate.
Boomer Travel Tip: Hotel Podewills Castle in Krag is closed during the winter months (November to March). And be sure to mention that you are English speaking so that an English speaking member of the staff is available during your stay.
Boomers seeking active travels combined with romance will find plenty to do. The horseback riding is especially popular as are walks around the lake or hikes in the forest.
Stay in the splendor of an amber palace
Bursztynowy Palace, or the Amber Palace Hotel, offers old-world luxury on the Amber Road, an ancient trade route that ferried precious amber from Gdansk to Rome and beyond. Approximately an hour’s drive west of Hotel Podewills Castle, the property houses three castles: Amber Palace, White Palace (public access not available) and the Hunting Lodge.
Rich-colored rugs and ornate chandeliers recreate the luxurious Polish ambiance of the late 1890′s and early 1900′s in the Amber Palace’s public rooms. Once again, we meet an owner who has worked hard to restore a building that suffered through several reincarnations during the Cold War—from Soviet Marshal offices to state-owned farm headquarters to a dormitory for technical students—none of which encouraged the preservation of pre-World War II history.
The grounds include a manicured park situated around a lake and a lava-rock waterfall (go figure). Nordic walking, swimming and bicycling (rentals available) are popular with the mostly German guests (it’s only 3 hours to Berlin by train).
Boomer travel tip: Watch peacocks roam the lawn from the warm waters of the indoor pool that looks out onto the garden. There’s also a fitness center and complete spa facility.
After touring the Amber Palace, our group stopped for a mid-morning break of coffee and Charlottka (apple cake) in the Crystal Room, the Amber Palace’s grand dining room. But, I kept thinking how nice it would be to enjoy a romantic dinner with Alan in the Orangery—a glass enclosed dining room known for its beautiful flowers. Oh, did I mention that there’s a nightclub?
Bask in the romantic spa facility at Ryman Palace
Forget the romance, I’d stay at Ryman Palace just for the spa. The new wellness facility offers an indoor pool with water features, heated lounge chairs, whirlpool and an assortment of the latest spa treatments using only natural products.
Although the building sits on the foundation of a 1751 era palace, it has recently undergone a major renovation after years of post-war neglect (this is becoming a familiar story). You’ll find hints of the former palace in the lobby (check out the mosaics in the floor). The renovation and expansion has resulted in classy, but understated accommodations, just the feel I look for in a romantic getaway. There is an on-site restaurant for fine dining and breakfast is included in the room rate.
Boomer travel tip: enjoy a glass of wine in the rock-walled cellar bar.
Now here’s the best part. Romantic Poland comes at a budget price by U.S. standards. Room rates for these three hotels range from a standard rate of $80.00 at Hotel Podewils Castle to $119.00 at the Amber Palace during weekdays to $58 per night at Ryman Palace. Of course taxes and gratuities may also apply.
So what do you think? Would you plan an escape to romantic Poland? Next time, I’ll be brining Alan.
Disclosure: Airberlin, VisitBerlin and the Oder Partnership City of Gdansk provided this travel experience. As always, the opinions are my own.
This post is part of the Romantic Travel Blog Roundup, hosted by Traveling With MJ. Visit the link for more great romance-related stories!
Date: January 28th, 2013 @ 13:00
Categories: Independent Travel