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.

Summer and Romance Blooms at the
Majestic Gramercy Mansion in
Balitmore County, Maryland.

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.

Original black oak and
cherry wood complement
the classic beauty of the
mansion's common room.

As we entered the main foyer, Old World charm and elegant, traditional furnishings welcomed us into the living room. A breathtaking 4-foot Turkish glass chandelier illuminated the classic grand staircase. Original dark cherry paneling complemented the soft mint walls and exotic tapestries.

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.

Enjoy a Private Breakfast in
the Lavish Camelot Room.

Below: Fragrant Blooms and
Butterflies in the
Estate's Flower Gardens.

Additional complimentary amenities included the use of a video library, in-room snacks and beverages, games, books, and magazines. Wireless laptop access and free Internet on a courtesy computer was also available for guests.

A Heavenly Bed and Breakfast for Royalty

We checked in to the large, airy Tower Room on the third floor. This breathtaking, classic Renaissance suite featured the largest double whirlpool tub in the mansion and a romantic gas fireplace. The solid, king-sized poster bed and luxurious white linens were comfortable and a welcome retreat from the day.

This light-filled room overlooked the estate gardens and the valley. A hand-carved four-poster bed, marble topped furniture, Bokara carpets, and an inlaid antique wood and marble fireplace imparted medieval ambiance. A spacious Italian-tiled bath in warm earth tones included a separate seated shower, double whirlpool, and 24K gold faucets.

A decadent double whirlpool tub
in the warm, Renaissance
bathroom in the Tower Room.

A private refrigerator with complimentary beverages and a microwave with popcorn were nestled discretely in a wood cabinet in the large bathroom. The warm yellow bathroom wall treatment and its Mediterranean charm were almost as soothing as the decadently romantic bathing experience. A dream bathroom fit 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

Above: Savory Breakfasts like
Fluffy Banana Pancakes
Energize Every Morning.

Below: Grape and blueberry
vines on Gramercy Mansion's
organic farm.

Guests are treated to a sumptuous 2-course gourmet breakfast each morning between 8 and 10 a.m. Delectable menu choices included fresh fruit medleys, fluffy banana or blueberry pancakes, delicious Italian bread French toast, and omelettes with cheese and organic herbs straight from the farm on the estate. Breakfast could be enjoyed in the elegant cream-walled dining room or on the serene, open-air verandah overlooking the scenic flower gardens. Refined service and delicious breakfast made every morning a grand celebration.

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.

Chef's Expressions elegant monthly wine dinners are held in Gramercy Mansion's new open-air verandah.

Since the monthly dinners began last year, the events have gained increasing popularity.

Grilled Duckling with Reggiano Crusted Potato Gnocchi and Truffled Celeriac with Sebastiani Pinot Noir 2001

At the recent Father's Day dinner, there were over 90 guests. Jerry Edwards, notable local chef, wine connoisseur, and part owner of Chef's Expressions, hosted the dinner. Occasionally, he would interrupt the flowing dinner conversation to share interesting wine and food tidbits, such as a wine-tasting demonstration. Chef Edwards also hosts a local radio show and sends his "food police" to review restaurants in the Baltimore area for the show.

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

Shopping, Dining, and Sitting on
the Dock of the Chesapeake
Bay at the Inner Harbor.

Gramercy Mansion is the only bed and breakfast in Baltimore County. Don't let the idyllic setting of this hidden retreat fool you — the modern conveniences of fine stores and restaurants are only minutes away. Located in Stevenson, Maryland, the mansion is close to historic Mount Vernon for antiquing and tours. Only 20 minutes away, Baltimore's Inner Harbor offers more restaurants and shopping along the Chesapeake Bay waterfront.

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

The Carriage House, located
across from the Mansion, offers
event space for private parties.

The Gramercy welcomes business travelers, tourists, and locals. A perfect choice for weddings and honeymoons, this unique bed and breakfast mansion offers romance and elegance with sophisticated furnishings and fragrant flower gardens. The Carriage House, a separate building located across from the mansion, is ideal for private parties or business functions as it holds 150 guests. Rental of the first floor of the mansion includes usage of the 5 large sitting rooms, verandah, and scenic gardens.

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.

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