Do Not Disturb
For several years I have wanted to go away to a proper spa. Well-off friends take an annual break to an establishment in Austria which costs an arm and a leg. My hope was to return home fitter and healthier, not missing a couple of limbs.
A Polish handyman told me about Klinika Uzdrowiskowa which he said was close to Gdansk and had some sort of magical salt caves.
Shortly after, my friend Lynne was talking about starting a new health regime and before she knew what was going on, we were booked up for a trip to Poland.
Klinika Uzdrowiskowa is actually about 120 miles from Gdansk, where we had spent the first night, but a car collected us and we drove through the Polish countryside until we arrived at a large building which had certainly not won any awards for architecture.
The clinic is huge and it was with a sense of trepidation that we set off to find our rooms and begin our odyssey of wellbeing.
Wining and dining
There is an option to sign up for a calorie-controlled programme but we opted to eat with the masses in the self-service dining room. The food was plentiful and slightly hit or miss, with some dishes tasty and others bland. We had not expected haute cuisine and food was not the main reason for coming here so we were not particularly disappointed. As expected in an Eastern European country, there was a lot of cheese and ham on offer. All the main dishes had signs with the calorie intake per 100g, so with some discipline it was possible to eat healthily. There is also an à la carte restaurant which remained completely empty during our stay. Supper finished at about 7.30pm, which was early for us.
No cashmere clad walls here, but the rooms were perfectly serviceable, with televisions (I became slightly addicted to the Polish home make-over shows), wifi, toiletries in the bathrooms and comfortable beds. Bathrobes were provided but not slippers (luckily Lynne had brought a couple of pairs that she had nabbed from the last hotel at which she had stayed).
Worth getting out of bed for
There is an enormous range of treatments on offer at Klinika Uzdrowiskowa. Compared with spas in the UK everything was cheap. I had two massages (£20 each) and both were extremely good. One therapist could speak a bit of English and told me that he had worked at the clinic for 16 years. A high proportion of guests come to the clinic to recuperate or because they have specific health problems (although we were not the only ones there purely for a bit of R&R), usually staying for at least a week. There are specific programmes for cardiac and orthopaedic problems, as well as neurological disorders and diabetes.
There is a large round indoor pool – not great for swimming lengths – where I took my first ever aqua aerobics class, which was a lot more strenuous than I had anticipated. There is also a hot tub outside and a sauna inside. The fully equipped gym is always manned by someone who has a much better idea of how the machines worked than yours truly. There is also exercise equipment in the garden which will be used a lot in the summer. Access to a 45-minute session in the salt room is allowed every second day. Basically it does what it says on the package – a darkened room which has salt crystals on the floor and walls; guests lie on a sun lounger and it is so relaxing that each time I used it at least one person fell asleep during our allotted time. There is also a good beauty salon.
With supper finishing early there are various activities and recitals most evenings. There is a bar, although the only time we entered was to observe the Saturday night dance which was extremely amusing. The band played a lot of Boney M songs.
Guest book comments
If you want a health kick rather than a kick in the wallet, Klinika Uzdrowiskowa is definitely worth a visit.
Klinika Uzdrowiskowa, Warzelniana 7, 87-720 Ciechocinek, Poland (+48 54 416 7093, www.podtezniami.pl) – the price list is complicated but rooms start at about £40 a night.