I am an Australian travel writer living in Warsaw and as you might imagine visit many hotels. I had not been to Naleczow for 20 years but decided I needed a break from my present demanding book.
This spa had always had romantic associations for me as it was where I spent my first night with the beautiful Polish girl (at that time) who is now my wife. We decided to return for Valentine's Day and see what we would see and feel what we would feel... 'Never go back!'as the saying is but I am really pleased we did as Naleczow has changed out of all recognition from the rather run-down small spa town I remembered from the early 1990s.
If you are travelling to Poland in the Spring or Summer you really must visit the town as well as its companion Kazimierz Dolny, which is far more 'popular' but completely different, far more 'touristy' and not as intimate.
I could not recommend a better place to stay than the newly refurbished Villa Aurelia. Everything is contained within the one building which is a great advantage - rooms, state of the art large swimming pool, intimate wellness rooms for massages and the excellent 'Slow Food' restaurant with a wine list put together by a definite connoisseur of Italian wines and reasonably priced - not the absurd and usual rip off margins imposed in restaurants. When will they ever learn? There is a tennis court, outdoor swimming pool and extensive gardens for summer recreation.
I could not help reflecting on the inconceivable revolution that has taken place in Polish restaurant food in the last ten years. This is one of the best restaurants I have eaten at in Poland for a long time (including overpriced Warsaw). However it is easy to underestimate as the decor is minimalist and modern. But then I always feel you cannot eat the interior design of a restaurant so what of that!
The rooms are rather small (it is villa after all which was the style when Naleczow was in its heyday as a fashionable spa). We stayed for five nights so moved to a larger room but for short stays the normal rooms are modern, clean, well-equipped and perfectly adequate.
The Spa Park is a lovely place to wander and relax reflecting on times past which were slower and where leisure had more charm and sense of European civilization than today. The Wedel chocolate house 'Drinking Room' ('Pijalnia' in Polish) is a place to really hedonistically indulge yourself and give in to gloriously unhealthy temptations with let's say the Hot Chocolate Souffle with a scoop of Vanilla Ice-Cream and Raspberry puree. To die for...Such places in my experience are uniquely Polish as the chocolaty intensity of Wedel chocolate is unique. Try the healing waters in the adjacent pump room first then undo all that good work with the chocolate...
The pianist Ignacy Paderewski often came to the town and many famous Polish writers lived here including Boleslaw Prus ('The Street of Crocodiles'), Henryk Sienkiewicz ('Quo Vadis') and Stefan Zeromsky ('The Faithful River'). There are some excellent long walks in the forests and characteristic 'loess' gorges in the area.
So there you have it - Naleczow and Villa Aurelia - a rejuvenating combination indeed without criticism for the jaded mind, aching body and tired at heart (no personal details from a gentleman concerning his Valentine night).
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