Amid the beautiful landscape of the Tatra Mountains in southern Poland is a hidden gem: the Tatra Chalet. Family-friendly, personable, cozy and charming, the chalet makes the perfect respite for a family looking to explore the area and unwind in warmth and style. After a day of skiing, taking a dip in the nearby thermal pools, or alpine sliding, it’s the place to indulge in an exquisite meal, cozy up to the fire, and let the kids be kids.
The most appealing quality of Tatra Chalet is the personal touch afforded to the guests. With only seven rooms, the staff is adept at catering to the individual needs of its guests. For instance, the kids were intent on making s’mores our second night. We let the staff know, and when we arrived home from hiking that afternoon, the outdoor fire was lit and ready. In addition, hot mulled wine awaited the adults — what a treat!
Throughout our stay, the staff found ways to go above and beyond to make our time at the chalet a memorable experience. This kind of added touch turns a good vacation into a great one.
The physical layout of the hotel allows adults to enjoy their time while keeping an eye on the kids – this is a wonderful plus that kept everyone happy at the same time. As my husband and I perused the dining menu, we were able to watch our three young children playing in the garden through the French glass doors. They made “dinner” in the little wooden playhouse, climbed the rope ladder, swung, and picked up some forest loot such as pinecones, acorns and autumn leaves. Meanwhile, we ordered drinks and actually had the chance to enjoy them. By the time the kids were ready to come in, warm up and eat, our food had arrived at the table.
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The Tatra Chalet offers seven modern, fully equipped suites with interiors that boast a palette of natural colors reminiscent of the surrounding forest. The suites are fitted with Savoy classic king-and queen-sized beds, luxurious bath and skin-care products from the London-based brand The White Company, and high-quality technological equipment.
We stayed in the Under the Rysy Mountain Suite, also known as the Family Suite. With a king bed, two single beds, a baby crib (provided on request), and two large bathrooms with heated floors, the suite worked wonderfully for our family of five. The living room had a TV, armchairs, a large sofa and chaise longue, and a kids’ play area—more than enough space for everyone to spread out and relax.
With an extensive breakfast, lunch and dinner menu, as well as a full children’s menu, the chalet’s Cinq[sek] Restaurant does not disappoint. Serving local delicacies made with seasonal, organic products, the food is traditional Polish with a modern twist. Breakfast is buffet-style and includes breads and pastries, charcuterie, sausages, fruit, egg dishes and more. Coffee, sweet treats and smoothies are available through early evening. Breakfast and afternoon snacks are included in the room rate.
As the chalet sits right at the entrance to Tatra National Park, the chef will prepare sandwiches and thermoses with hot beverages for an all-day hike in the mountains. When guests return from their daytime adventures, they can indulge in afternoon tea, coffee and homemade cakes served either on the terrace or inside by the fireplace. The chalet also offers campfire and barbecue facilities.
Young children will enjoy the small but well-stocked playroom on the second floor of the chalet; they are welcome to borrow toys to take back to the room. Kids of all ages will enjoy the cozy and comfortable drawing room, furnished with a fireplace, inviting leather armchairs, a wide sofa, round-the-clock snacks, a 50-inch TV and countless DVDs (though most are in Polish).
On the ground floor of the chalet is a sauna and massage room, and there’s also a covered outdoor Jacuzzi. Numerous garden areas and a well-thought-out playground make the property great for kids to explore and spend time outdoors.
Located at the foothills of the Tatra Mountains, Tatra Chalet is only a five-minute walk from the entrance to Tatra National Park, which features spectacular hiking. In the opposite direction, the chalet is only a 20-minute walk from the town center of Zakopane. Walk or take the funicular up Gubalowka Hill for an excellent view of the Tatras and an opportunity to go alpine sliding (children 8 and older can go on their own; children under 8 must slide with an adult).
Riding the cable car up Kasprowy Weirch, a popular ski area and the mountain border between Poland and Slovakia, offers breathtaking views. Families should not miss walking along the pedestrian-friendly Krupowki Street in the city center to check out local restaurants and shopping. Taking carriage and sleigh rides are also a popular way to take in the beautiful Polish countryside surrounding Zakopane.
TIP: If you are traveling to Zakopane with young children, leave your umbrella stroller at home. The cobblestone streets of the city center and the alpine hiking trails are much better traversed using a baby backpack.
Zakopane is home to many quaint cafes serving cake, pastries and hot chocolate. Do your family a favor and hit up one of them for a post-hike indulgence; the hot chocolate is so decadent that future versions will fall short in comparison!
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Editor’s Note: Loren was hosted by Tatra Chalet in order to review the property. As always, our opinions are our own. Photos by Loren Braunohler except where noted.
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