Welcome to Osowa Sień. Welcome to The Meaning of Life!
I wouldn’t describe myself as a particularly spiritual nor enlightened sort of geezer, but that’s not to say I’m not prone to the occasional bout of introspection – you know the deal, taking a moment to ponder mighty, soul-searching questions such as The Meaning Of Life.
So, with that mind, I’ve got a bombshell to drop – I’ve found it!
Not only have I come to determine that the aforementioned all rests in our pursuit of happiness, but I’ve only gone and discovered where the root of all happiness actually resides.
It’s called Osowa Sień.
If that doesn’t sound familiar then that’s no real surprise. A small village with a headcount of just over 1,000 locals, it’s a pleasing but standard sort of settlement that serves to typify backwater Poland: neat farmhouses with gnome-adorned gardens and a tiny, little church whose well-tended graves include one kept aside for a good, white witch. So far, so normal.
Elevating it above the gazillion other places in this country that fit that M.O. is the existence of a residence by the name of Pałac Osowa Sień.
Built in the 1800s by an aristocratic couple called Anna and Eugen Von Seherr-Thoss, the palace was the realization of Anna’s dream of living in a striking abode that captured the aesthetics of the fairy tale German Schloß.
Later passing into the care of her nephew, Lothar Von Brandenstein, the palace continued to thrive and, by the time WWII came along, it had come to enjoy something of a reputation for glamorous high society gatherings that channelled the spirit of the age. Good things happened here, and on hand to record these was Von Brandenstein’s daughter Jolanthe.
Typing away under the moniker of Leonie Ossowski, this prolific author would go on to pen numerous screenplays and novels, many of which were set in the palace itself.
Inspiration, you imagine, wouldn’t have been hard to come by. Presenting itself in a sparkling shade of white, and embellished with soaring towers and majestic little flurries, it must have really been some sight.
And yes, it still is.
Under the custodianship of its current proprietors, Canadians Jamie and Matt Chojnacki, this heritage property flourishes still – only now, you’re free to stay.
Operating as a boutique residence, the couple’s ongoing restoration has been a sensitive continuation of works first initiated by the palace’s previous Danish owner – and what a job this pair have done.
Having already stayed a couple of times previously, my latest visit – last week to be precise – came loaded with great anticipation. And I wasn’t disappointed.
A place of almost indescribable good vibes, entering one creaks over scrubbed floorboards, the gently squeaking sounds lost in the swirl of jazz that echoes from the speakers. In the distance, a fireplace crackles. Immediately, one is at home.
And let this be a point to dwell on. For all its privileges and pleasures, this is not a hotel. Nor is this some cutthroat operation that’s motivated by profit. This is a home, and for the duration of your stay this is your home as well.
Exuding a natural, almost zen-like calm, some would call it the definition of the Scandinavian concept of Hygge, but for me that alone suggests something contrived, shop-bought and designed by Martha Stewart. This most certainly is not.
Here, there is no shortage of identity, and that much is clear touring the accommodation: on this stay, for me, that means the Leonieszimmer, a charming space decorated with a vintage typewriter and a record player flanked by a sheathe of vinyl records that run from smooth Sinatra classics to big band albums. Positioned above the traditional carriageway entrance, it is a beautiful nook of timeless quality.
Originally booking in for five-nights, I soon extend that by a couple nights more. Why? Because whilst there’s little to actually do, days have a habit of trickling away on blissful waves of utter contentment. It’s a feeling you don’t ever want to end – and, if I’m truthful, I’d probably still be there now had I not run out of pants.
Doing what, I’m not entirely sure. Pottering around, mainly. Entertaining myself by wrestling with the Head of Guest Services (a handsome, furry chap answering – when he feels like it – to the name of Mr. Doggo), or taking long, languid walks in the forests close by.
Or, maybe, I’d just grill myself in the sauna, before heading to the Chesterfields in the salon and gazing deep into the fire. Yep, you see it’s that kind of place. When I say there’s not much to do, it’s astonishing the amount of different amusements you enjoy when there’s no schedule to keep.
Whether it’s browsing antique photo albums or journeying to the top of the central turret to read under the heads of the cuddly animals that gaze from the walls, there’s something infinitely satisfying that comes with doing nothing. In fact, if there’s a favourite pursuit I enjoy, then it’s simply prowling around the palace inspecting its many angles during different times of the day.
And let it not be said that the region itself is not beautiful. The nearest city, Leszno, has been lovingly renovated, whilst the itsy town of Wschowa is a joy in itself – but more on those at a later date.
You see, no matter how appealing the aforementioned towns might be, nothing beats the feeling of returning to the palace.
Passionate about all aspects of hospitality (including cooking, should you ask), the masterstroke of the Chojnackis lies in the way they’ve untapped the positive energy that has traditionally coursed through the veins of this palace.
Attracting a specific clientele defined not by their wealth or success, but rather their attitude to life, it is a place of openness, creativity and boundless good times: Welcome to Osowa Sień. Welcome to The Meaning of Life.