I'll admit it, I've always wanted to be a princess with my own castle. I do have a penchant for the finer things in life. A girl can always dream, right? But recently, when I was looking for a quaint bed-and-breakfast in Baltimore County, I found my dream come true.
The stunning Gramercy Mansion, situated on 45 acres of wooded grounds, offers a truly unique and luxurious bed and breakfast experience. As we drove off the bustling highways and suburban streets, we pulled up a windy path to the magnificent Tudor mansion, and entered another era of timeless beauty. The mansion, rich in history, was built as a wedding present from owner of the Pennsylvania Railroad, Alessander Cassatt. The mansion once housed the descendents of Benjamin Franklin and the predecessors of the Peace Corps.
The owner, Anne Pomykala, has a love of history and a keen eye for beautiful and interesting treasures from all over the world. Well-appointed furnishings, collectibles, and artwork that Anne has picked over the years in her travels graced the mansion's common rooms and guest rooms. Traditional décor and modern amenities abound at the Gramercy.
Guests enjoy beautiful flower and herb gardens, birdwatching, swimming in the Olympic-sized pool, and walking to the organic farm and hiking trails. Elegant rooms included five common first floor rooms and 11 guest suites. Accommodations range from the lavish Camelot Room, priced at $325, to the comfortable Toy Room for $75.
A Heavenly Bed and Breakfast for Royalty
Blooming pink, blue, and purple hydrangea flowers adorned the table in the sitting area. In-room coffee, tea, snacks, and a warm fireplace made it so easy to call this royal suite our "home" for a few days.
Your Choice of A Homemade Gourmet Breakfast
Gramercy Mansion also provided farm-fresh herbs locally from its organic farm on the property grounds. Some are used to make the delicious homemade breakfasts for the guests, and the rest is sent to local area supermarkets and retailers through Whole Foods. A stroll on the grounds revealed the sprouting rosemary and chives crops, and the grape and blueberry vines.
An Elegant Wine Dinner fit for a King and Queen
Gramercy Mansion offers monthly wine dinners in conjunction with Chef's Expressions served in the verandah. On June 24, 2004, the "Father's Day Grilled Dinner with Big Red Wines from the West Coast" dinner included hors d'oeuvres, dessert, and a fine accompanying wine for every course.
The delicate gourmet fare was skillfully prepared and exquisite to savor. Crisp Grgich Hills Chardonnay wine, lime shrimp tartlets and grilled jumbo shrimp hors d'oeuvres were presented to guests by a staff of butlers. Before the seated dinner, guests chatted and relaxed in the mansion's first floor sitting rooms or strolled in the nearby fragrant flower gardens.
Since the monthly dinners began last year, the events have gained increasing popularity.
The dinner's first delicious course, a Grilled Duckling with Reggiano Crusted Potato Gnocchi and Truffled Celeriac, was perfectly complimented by the Sebastiani Pinot Noir 2001 from the Sonoma Coast (see the full menu at the end of this feature).
The next monthly dinner celebrates Bastille Day on July 14th with the finest French wines and cuisine.
Baltimore Area Attractions and Nearby Sights
The fine hosts at Gramercy Mansion provide local area maps, brochures, suggested activities and restaurant recommendations. Looking for a close and moderately priced restaurant, we chose City Crab in the Greensville Center, just a 5-minute drive from the mansion. The fresh Chilean sea bass was delicious! The shopping center also featured an upscale and casual selection of stores.
Your Own Mansion for Hire
As with any good fantasy, it all must come to an end. I awoke extra early on our final morning to savor the estate's bucolic beauty one last time before our farewell breakfast and checkout. A perfectly refined and tranquil getaway, the Gramercy Mansion offers a unique, must-Lady.
HOW TO BOOK: Check room availability at Gramercy Mansion and make reservations at http://www.gramercymansion.com.
WINE DINNER: Sign up for the newsletter and purchase tickets separately for the monthly dinners at: http://www.chefsexpressions.com/wine_dinners.html
Feature and photos by Ivy Liu, New York City Correspondent.