Had enough already of grey, gloomy Warsaw? Then pack your bags –
you’re going on a break.
Warsaw is ill. It begins January with a hangover and ends it with flu. Even the optimist will readily admit that the capital at the start of the year is an ugly proposition. So kill two birds with one stone – take a break from the city while regenerating both body and soul. Sounds impossible? It’s not, and Poland isn’t short on top-notch spas that tick all those boxes.
ul. Morenowa 33, Puszyczykowo, www.hotelarnia.pl
As you approach Hot_elarnia, past ice dusted fields and cute farmyard dwellings, initial expectations lead one to believe a rustic affair awaits. That assumption is lent further weight on arrival, whereupon visitors are left to gaze up at a white outhouse crowned with a pristine thatched roof. It all serves to bring to mind backwater Poland, circa 1850. Therefore, it comes as a surprise to learn the only time travel you’ll be doing is forward, not back.
The work of architect Bartosz Konieczny, the interiors were finished off courtesy of Fabio Novembre and Marcel Wanders, and entering Hot_elarnia is a space age experience. Having checked in, rooms are found following a trail set by a colored carpet (no room numbers here), with the luxury lodgings complimented by playful touches from Philip Starck and Patricia Urquiola. For all the contemporary styling, occasional blockish wood finishes juxtapose well against the futuristic ambience.
Having claimed a stack of awards for their spa, guests are correct to expect nothing but the best: that includes a mosaic-bottomed pool, steam room, jacuzzi and a range of health and beauty treatments. Muffle up to enjoy the nature trails outside, or ask at the hotel about the horse riding and indoor tennis nearby. And if the slow pace is all too much, city center Poznań is 15 clicks away.
ul. Bytowska 4, Gdańsk, www.dworoliwski.pl
There’s much to admire about Dwór Oliwski, not least its ability to fill this tricky sounding role: that of a country retreat in the midst of a city. Set in a leafy suburb of Gdańsk, that one of Poland’s busiest metropolitan areas lies minutes away is hard to compute. Accessed via some curling woodland roads, what appears in view is stunning indeed – a restored 17th century manor house, flanked by cross-timbered buildings and a separate thatched structure.
Lodgings look delicious, with ample rose hues and gentle white colors. Spend an evening luxuriating in the wine cellar, and in the morning, swipe back the curtains to reveal postcard views of the rolling gardens outside. Reality, it must be said, feels a long way away. Yet for the full pampering experience slip into their spa, where a range of packages have been expertly customized to suit the needs of women and men (and the whole family). And don’t forget some socks to pack out your Speedos – the pool here is one of the best in the region. In summer, you’d have found the German national football team dive bombing into it.
ul. Powstanców Warszawy 10, Sopot, www.sheraton.pl/sopot
To use a quaint British term, Sopot is like Marmite – you love it or you loathe it. Visit in high season and you’ll see a contemporary take on Dante’s Inferno: by day, parades of lobster pink families with inflatable animals, and by night, garish neon slashes and a well-oiled crowd. But even the Insider, a cantankerous curmudgeon at the best of times, accepts Sopot’s glories. Out of tourist time, this seaside town is a different prospect, offering a soothing air amid a fin-de- siècle atmosphere – as well as prices that don’t leave plumes of smoke billowing from the wallet.
Since its inception as a tourist destination, the talk of the town has been the Grand Hotel by the bottom of the pier. That still applies today, thanks to a multi-million investment by the people at Sofitel. Originally completed in 1927, this historic hotel has seen it all – Greta Garbo, Marlena Dietrich and Charles de Gaulle all stayed here, as did Hitler in the days when the Wehrmacht conquered all (don’t mention the H word to the staff).
But it’s the next door Sheraton that gets our custom, thanks to a magnificent spa complex that includes a scented Turkish hamam, saline water steam room, Roman-style tepidarium, Finnish sauna, ‘ice fountain’, rain caves and a hydrotherapy pool that makes use of the healing mineral waters of the nearby St. Wojciech spring. And don’t forget the Rasul, a Moroccan inspired steam room where guests are slathered with clay before a cleansing, tropical shower under a starlit dome. More mundane pleasures are found in the state-of-the-art gym, pool and beauty areas. Fully restored and replenished, soak up the warmth of the InAzia restaurant while the bleak Baltic Sea lashes the shore.
ul. Parkowa 48, Opalenica, www.hotelremes.pl
Where did Cristiano Ronaldo learn to dive? Not here, though the swimming pool of the Remes gave him plenty of chance this summer to perfect his act. Host to the Portuguese side in 2012, the Remes offers a wealth of facilities, among them a hamam, cryogenic chamber, hydro jet massage and treatments that incorporate the blue ribbon products of Maria Galland, Kurland and Sofri. Professionals love it, thanks in part to eight full-size football pitches, volleyball courts and golf course – yay Gods, they’ve even got their own 1,000-seater stadium. Amateurs, meanwhile, appreciate the billiards room, riding trails, gym and bowling alley. As for the hotel, that’s a calming designer experience embellished with chic finishes and exotic sculptures.
Głęboczek Vine Resort & Spa
Wielki Głęboczek, Brozie, www.gleboczek.pl
Roll into Głęboczek for the only spa in Poland offering treatments based on wine therapy. This first aside, there’s more to recommend about Głęboczek. Flanked on three sides by water, the crystal clear air and sense of isolation is well suited to detox breaks. More purifying treatments can be found in the bathhouse, among them a mud and peat bath, and there’s a variety of more right-on, alternative techniques to enjoy: watsu water immersion therapy, KMI massage and an artsy looking AlphaSphere relaxation chair. Watching sunset over the lakes, enjoying a glass from their comprehensive wine offer, is an ethereal experience. Lodgings look contemporary, with the modern styling offset by the generous use of cow pelts and pine. Waking up, with the winter sun slanting through the floor-to-ceiling windows, you know you’ve rested well.