When we reach Forsthaus Strelitz, a forester’s house turned into farm-to-table restaurant and B&B, the grounds are quiet. There’s no one in sight besides the two farm dogs who bound down the drive to greet us. It’s a day off for the property, but sheltered by the trees and ringed by farmland, there’s the sense it’s always just as calm here. At just a two hour drive out of Berlin, it’s become a favourite among city dwellers, who much like owner Wenzel Pankratz, are seeking a different pace of life.
Heading down the leafy drive, we find Wenzel in the larder of the main building, which has been transformed into a much talked about restaurant and the communal heart of the property. In the larder, he is surrounded by bottles of apple and beetroot juice, different kinds of honey from amber to mustard in colour. Everything around us, and everything that ends up on guests’ plates, is grown on premises, foraged in the woods, or sourced from the surroundings. “We rely almost entirely on products from our garden and farmyard besides things like fish and game which come from the forests or lakes around the Forsthaus. When it comes to our own products, I can be guaranteed that they’re good, that a carrot will have its typically sweet taste to it, that tomatoes will also taste like proper tomatoes,” explains Wenzel.
"We rely almost entirely on products from our garden and farmyard."
He himself was born and raised in the neighbouring town Neustrelitz and was a chef at notable Berlin eateries like Crackers before taking over the kitchen and property of Forsthaus Strelitz from his parents. “The Forsthaus was built in 1912 and was in use as a forester’s lodge up until 1998 when my parents took over the property. Back then there were also animals in the garden and the stables were in use as they are today,” he says. And this is beauty of the place – nothing is just for show. Past the vegetable patches and small tomato greenhouse, we find menagerie of farm dogs, chickens, ducks, beehives, thistly pigs, a donkey family and the odd cat in a haystack, who each make their own contributions to the Forsthaus.
"It’s the same in our guest rooms – there’s not a lot in them, but what is there has been carefully sought out, from the cement tiles, cob walls to the mattresses."
In tune with the slower pace of the property, the look and feel of the rooms is ‘less is more’. It begins in the main house: “We designed an open plan kitchen with a wood-fired stove. I stripped back the dining and common area compared to what it was before. It’s the same in our guest rooms – there’s not a lot in them, but what is there has been carefully sought out, from the cement tiles, cob walls to the mattresses,” explains Wenzel. There’s little to distract (okay, maybe an errant hen out the window) and space to dream. But, more than a look, it’s an attitude. “When people come here, we want them to have a lovely dinner in the evening, drink a glass of wine and be woken up in the morning by the rooster or one of the donkeys,” explains Wenzel. “The lifestyle here, and the people too, are all more relaxed than in the city. Many of our guests say that it reminds them of being on holiday at their grandparents’, the wooden picket fences, fresh eggs for breakfast, homemade bread and marmalade…”, he trails off, interrupted by sound of a donkey braying.
"The lifestyle here, and the people too, are all more relaxed than in the city."
"Many of our guests say that it reminds them of being on holiday at their grandparents’, the wooden picket fences, fresh eggs for breakfast, homemade bread and marmalade..."
Forsthaus Strelitz use the muun Original Mattress.