Poland’s castle hotels: Where to go to feel like a king or queen

A curated anthology of extraordinary places where memories will be made. ksiaz.walbrzych.pl

Of course, it goes without saying that you’re all dying to discover how I spent my weekend. The answer is Tychy. Any more questions? I thought not.

In fairness, and before anyone pops a parcel bomb in the post, I’m sure there’s much to recommend about this honourable little town; alas, given that I spent the lion’s share of my time dodging missiles and burning debris at a football match I’m figuring there really isn’t much on which I should expand.

Instead, therefore, let me take you somewhere a little more pleasurable: Poland’s castle hotels. First though, a disclaimer. This is not a comprehensive rundown, nor should it be treated as a summary of the best the country offers (in fact, in some cases far from it). What it is, however, is a curated anthology of extraordinary places where memories will be made.

Reszel

Resting on a rocky verge and staring over Reszel’s small but perfectly formed Old Town, this redbrick castle is exactly what I demand when staying in a zamek. Sure, the beds are lumpy and the furnishings liable to leave you sporting splinters, but the atmosphere is something else. Built to serve the Warmian bishops, you enter under a portcullis before finding yourself in an unevenly cobbled courtyard swirling with shadows.Zamek Reszel/Facebook

Mysterious to the max, it’s in the cellars here that Barbara Zdunk was imprisoned before becoming the last European to be grilled for witchcraft. Subject to an investigation by Ghosthunters International (even the bar is haunted by a grumpy old customer), it’s a place that resonates with the power of the past. For history buffs, meanwhile, Hitler’s Wolf’s Lair complex is a short drive away.Zamek Reszel/Facebook

Lidzbark Warmiński

Often cited as one of the best-preserved examples of Gothic architecture in the country, the halls you tread once echoed to the footsteps of King Sigismund III Vasa and even Napoleon himself.hotelkrasicki.pl

Revived as a swanky hotel, you reach it by crossing a wooden footbridge over a water-filled moat. Copernicus once resided here as well, and today his fleeting presence is honoured via astronomy lessons and a beautiful tower library filled with parchments, scrolls and leather-bound tomes.hotelkrasicki.pl

After, unwind in the spa before retreating to lavishly appointed rooms some of which tout original brickwork. The town outside might not promise much, but there’s enough distractions to be had nosing around the hotel itself.hotelkrasicki.pl

Gola Dzierżoniowska

Found 40-minutes south of Wrocław, the Siedmiu Stawów Hotel set inside the castle in Gola Dzierżoniowska was created in cahoots with the French cosmetics brand L’Occitane – their touch is evidenced by way of a sensual spa. Built first in the 16th century in the Renaissance style, it took 13-years for the owners to halt the post-war degradation, but it’s been time well spent.uroczysko7stawow.pl

Featuring lots of exposed stone walls and rough-hewn timber touches, here history has been fused sensitively with modernity. A class effort if ever there was, it’s a place in which to pamper yourself before enjoying long walks in the bucolic grounds or ensconcing yourself in the wine cellar.uroczysko7stawow.pl

For those looking for something special, splurge on the prestige senior suite. Coming in at a cool PLN 1,190 per night, it’s primary selling point is a private jacuzzi on a wooden-decked terrace.uroczysko7stawow.pl

Korzkiew

One of my favourite finds in recent memory, Korzkiew’s popularity has soared since Poles rediscovered their appetite for domestic tourism which means, unfortunately, you’re unlikely to strike as lucky as me. Booking in here in 2019, I found myself the only guest, thereby fulfilling my ambition to live like a King for a week. And what a week it was. Slowly descending into madness, I spent the days glugging wine from a bottle while barking orders at the crows that would gather on the ramparts.donimirski.com/zamek-korzkiew

Built in the 14th century as part of the Eagles’ Nest trail, Korzkiew’s small size only amplifies its atmosphere. Hemmed in by limestone walls, pace the compact courtyard before clambering the creaking wooden stairwells to the viewing tower. True, there isn’t much to do, but you visit to do little more than empty your mind in front of a roaring log fireplace before entering staring competitions with portraits of whiskered nobility that hang from the walls. Should cabin fever set in, the joys of Krakow are just 20-minutes by Uber.donimirski.com/zamek-korzkiew

Sarny

Built circa 1590, Sarny – or Scharfeneck as it was formerly known – was once the elaborate toy of the German Counts of Götzen. It was under this family’s charge that, during their 200-year tenure, elements were added such as a magnificent chapel and an adjoining palace. A work in progress, step-by-step these are in the process of being restored and revitalized by the current owner.zameksarny.pl

Having once attracted the interest of Prince Charles, the labours that have followed have bestowed this sprawling complex with an odd clash of styles that lend it identity aplenty: modern and minimal Italian-style accommodation in the so-called Composer’s House, a Baroque-themed café in the gatehouse, and plenty of echoing cobwebbed chambers that have remained untouched for what you’d guess could be decades.zameksarny.pl

Nestled not far from Kłodzko, at this time of year the changing foliage lends drama to the views from the terrace out front. Let the surrounding forests and mountains become your domain – explore!zameksarny.pl

Książ

In previous years the big failing of this castle was its inability to provide accommodation you’d actively wish to sleep in. But where once you’d have found spiders and strange mildewy smells, today the castle’s principal lodgings have benefited from an overhaul to bring them into line with accepted modern standards – so three cheers for Książ!ksiaz.walbrzych.pl

But in all honesty, even without the refit I’d have placed this on my list simply on account of the castle itself. To me, it’s Poland’s No. 1. Founded by Bolko the Strict in 1288 to shield the trade route that stretched from Bohemia to Silesia, what ranks as the country’s third biggest zamek was procured by the Hochberg clan in 1508. It was they that added the crazy embellishments that define it to this day. Touting a smorgasbord of architectural influences (from whimsical Rococo and bold Baroque to moody Gothic and striking Neoclassic), it’s at its best when viewed through the thin mists of autumn: sat on a wedge of rock, it rises above the dark forests like a fairy tale creation.ksiaz.walbrzych.pl

As for history, where to even begin: featuring things like secret Nazi tunnels, deranged nobility and the case of the disappearance of the world’s longest pearl necklace, these tales come alive during their monthly night time tours. Including things like screaming actors leaping out of the shadows with burning swords, it’s without fail one of the best things I’ve done during my entire time in Poland: ridiculous, terrifying, educational and hilarious.ksiaz.walbrzych.pl

Karpniki

A stone’s throw from Jelenia Góra, the Neo-Gothic Karpniki is a resounding example of restoration gone right. Formerly hosting Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna and Wilhelm III, this magical residence is marked by its pristine white colouring and soaring signature turret.zamekkarpniki.pl

Presenting elegant rooms that dance in concert with the castle’s aesthetic style, it’s a delicious looking escape penned in by rolling fields and a serene, placid moat. Beset with vaulted chambers and the trappings of wealth, consider it a poster child for historic regeneration. As the days get shorter, muffle up for a crisp morning walk around the rural lanes and woodland that honeycomb the region.zamekkarpniki.pl