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Two and a half hours outside of Warsaw, in the direction of Gdansk, and just a stone's throw from the historic site of the Battle of Grunwald, sit two wonderful private country houses that are just waiting to indulge weary city dwellers in the joys of the simpler life. These placid retreats sleep 11 and eight guests, respectively. The bedrooms of the larger house have mainly insuite bathrooms. Fully equipped with kitchen staff, CD and video players, and all manner of English language magazines and books, it's very easy to laze away an afternoon without even poking one's nose out into the wonderful fresh air of the hiking trails surrounding the place. Huge windows, white walls, and simple country furnishings (including several fireplaces and woven cotton and wool kilim rugs skimming polished wooden floors) arc the leitmotif of the decor.

The little house is even cozier, and is ideal for a small group that wants extra privacy. The two buildings are in the same compound, perhaps a hundred meters from one another.

During our stay on New Year's Eve weekend, the enthusiastic cooks prepared us 'hearty country fare' (except the vegetarians, who should think about providing for themselves) for every meal, with all 18 of us fitting nicely around the large table in the main dining room. When our devoted kitchen staff ran short of eggs at breakfast, they simply went out to the barn to fetch more, still warm from the hen's nest.

The house also has its own wine cellar, and it can be arranged that the housekeepers provision the kitchen for you in advance.

It's also possible to arrange all manner of personal services to pamper you during your stay: a masseuse came and worked all afternoon when we were there, turning most of the guests in our party into blissful heaps of relaxation before she was finished. One snowy afternoon two local men came up with bell-festooned sleighs for a classic jaunt through the new-fallen snow, and bonfires and hikes were also available. During warmer weather, wagon rides can be arranged, and horseback riding for up to six at a time can be found about a 25-minute drive away.

A Country Getaway
A place away from it all for the weary urbanite to unwind
By Victoria Northrop