My Itchy Travel Feet | The Baby Boomer's Guide To Travel

Finding romance in Poland

2013/01/28by Donna Hull

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.

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The terrace view at Hotel Podewils Castle

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.

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Looking into The Orangery at the Amber Palace

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?

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The soothing spa waters at Ryman Palace

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.

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Romantic road trip route

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! 


A boomer travel and lifestyle authority who is exploring the world one activity at a time. Besides writing and publishing My Itchy Travel Feet, she also writes about boomer travel for My Well-Being Powered by Humana, Make It Missoula and is the author of My Itchy Travel Feet: Breathtaking Adventure Vacation Ideas.

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

santafetraveler January 29, 2013 at 8:17 am

Wasn’t at the top of my romantic getaway list. I think if you go with the right person you can find romance anywhere.
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Donna Hull
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January 30, 2013 at 8:39 am

You are right, Billie, it’s the person – not the place – that makes a trip romantic.

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Alexandra January 29, 2013 at 12:43 pm

Wish I were going to Poland instead of Sweden! I will send this post to my nephew who recently married a woman from Poland. Sounds like these ideas will be perfect for them when they take a getaway and leave their son with his grandmom in Gdansk.
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Donna Hull
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January 30, 2013 at 8:38 am

By all means tell your nephew. With a grandmom in Gdansk, these properties would be perfect for a romantic getaway without baby.

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Jennifer Margulis January 29, 2013 at 1:15 pm

I’ve been to Poland once and it was definitely NOT romantic. I didn’t really like it. It’s a difficult place for Jews to travel, there’s so much anti-semitism there. And alcoholism. At least when I was there. But I appreciate reading about the Poland I didn’t see.
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Donna Hull
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January 30, 2013 at 8:37 am

Jennifer, when did you travel to Poland? Was it for research rather than as a tourist? That’s sad that you experienced so much anti-semitism. During my visit, the alcoholism problem wasn’t evident, but then I was only in Poland for 2 or 3 days.

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Irene S. Levine
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January 29, 2013 at 1:37 pm

I think you can make any country sound romantic, Donna!
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Donna Hull
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January 30, 2013 at 8:34 am

Aw, Irene, that’s nice of you. The properties just happened to resonate with my romantic ideas.

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Brette
Twitter:
January 29, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Interesting – it wasn’t on my radar at all. Actually the only thing that sparked my interest about Poland before this was the pottery you can buy everywhere now. It sounds lovely!
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Donna Hull
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January 30, 2013 at 8:34 am

Hmm, I never even thought about shopping for pottery but amber is another story.

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Debbie
Twitter:
January 29, 2013 at 8:31 pm

I’ve never heard Poland and romantic go together but I have to say you’ve made me a believer! I could stay in any of your suggestions. Just being on the Amber Road somehow seems romantic :)
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Donna Hull
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January 30, 2013 at 8:33 am

Thanks, Debbie. Truth is that we can find romantic places anywhere we travel. I enjoyed the forests. Somehow how they seemed much thicker than our forests. Often the trees arched together over the road.

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ruth pennebaker January 30, 2013 at 12:34 pm

I had no idea you’d been to Poland, Donna, but I should have figured you’ve been everywhere. I visited my sister in nearby Gdynia last summer and it was lovely.
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Donna Hull
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February 8, 2013 at 7:03 pm

Ruth, you have a sister who lives in Gydnia? Will you be returning to visit her again?

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MyKidsEatSquid January 30, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Poland does sound like a romantic spot. I’ve only been there once and just while passing through on my way to St. Petersburg. Now I want to go back.
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Donna Hull
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February 8, 2013 at 7:02 pm

How were you traveling to St. Petersburg? I can’t imagine that it would have been by car. Perhaps train?

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Mark H January 30, 2013 at 5:15 pm

I walked a km into Poland in the old iron curtain days from a Czech/Slovak river (Dunajec) – it was a bit of a done thing with the locals and border control was a little further inland. Felt quite daring though it was really as safe as houses… But you have made the country sound beautiful and special. Some of the history interests me with its rough ride through the world wars.
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Donna Hull
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February 8, 2013 at 7:02 pm

Mark, visiting during iron curtain times must have been fascinating. Now, it seems so long ago.

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Living Large January 31, 2013 at 5:40 am

Castles and palaces, that does sound romantic! You’ve just made me add another dream to my bucket list!

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Donna Hull
Twitter:
February 8, 2013 at 7:01 pm

Glad you enjoyed the article.

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Cathy Sweeney
Twitter:
February 1, 2013 at 11:47 am

I’ve been wanting to visit Poland for a long time and might have the chance in the next couple of months. However, I guess I never did think of it as a romantic destination until reading your post. I’ve always been intrigued by its historical and cultural aspects, but this adds a wonderful dimension.
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Donna Hull
Twitter:
February 8, 2013 at 7:00 pm

Cathy, the Polish countryside south and west of Gdansk is delightful. I’d love to go back for more exploring. Of course I’m a nature lover so naturally I’m going to think of it as romantic.

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Jane Boursaw
Twitter:
February 5, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Lovely. That terrace view looks like the view from the Von Trapp’s house in “The Sound of Music.” Or maybe just the stone work. I don’t know if they had a large body of water that close.
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Donna Hull
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February 8, 2013 at 6:53 pm

Jane, you’re right, it does look like the terrace in Sound of Music. No wonder I thought it was romantic.

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Suzanne (Just One Boomer)
Twitter:
February 12, 2013 at 11:52 am

Like Jennifer, it’s difficult for me not to think of Auschwitz when I think of Poland. I realize that it’s probably not PC (or maybe even right) to tar today’s young Poles with the sins of their grandfathers and grandmothers and great grandmothers and grandfathers. However, the truth is that Poland had a long history of brutal anti-antisemitism. Maybe the 67 years since 1945 is too soon for Baby Boomers to forget since we lived with parents who helped liberate concentration camps in Poland and we know of relatives who perished in the camps from our parents. But, time does help to heal wounds. While it still may be difficult for my husband and me to visit Poland without cringing, our son recently visited Krakow and thought it was a beautiful city.
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