a design lover’s paradise in the rolling Romanian countryside

a design lover’s paradise in the rolling Romanian countryside

    (Philip Vile)

(Philip Vile)

Where?

Nestled between dilapidated buildings and traditional Saxon farms in the slow village of CriÈ ™. This part of Romania, cut off from the rest of the country by the vast Carpathian mountains, rarely has a glimpse beyond being the (highly controversial) birthplace of “Dracula”. But you won’t hear any of those tales around Bethlen Estate, an incredibly chic group of three lovingly restored guesthouses surrounded by slender fruit trees and rugged emerald hills. Bears roam the surrounding valleys here and the gentle breeze carries the liquid trill of birdsong. The air is also one of the cleanest in the world, so a living room is like a great deep breath for the soul.

    (Philip Vile)

(Philip Vile)

Style

Rustic elegance abounds. After the death of her husband in 2001, Countess Gladys Bethlen – who is often found chatting with guests and browsing the gardens – decided to buy and restore the dilapidated buildings of her old ancestral village. Working alongside her son Nikolaus, she has since dedicated herself to bringing the buildings back to life, painstakingly purchasing traditional period furnishings and collaborating with local artisans to ensure that every detail remains historically authentic. As for the interiors, things are more contemporary, washed with muted whites, creams and stuccoes, filled with natural jute and wicker accents and lashes of pale marble. But there are still fascinating period furnishings everywhere, from the eighteenth-century oak beams to the unusual round tiled stoves to heat the rooms when a thick snow falls in winter.

    (Philip Vile)

(Philip Vile)

Food beverage

Head chef Robert is creative in his approach, buying fresh produce every day and finalizing his menu based on what he has collected. The resulting dishes have a divine flavor (and aspect): chanterelles foraged with truffle mousse; Pressed duck cheek and beef with baked beetroot salad. Traditional Hungarian and Romanian dishes take pride of place, with tasty beef goulash cooked over the open fire on the terrace and fluffy fried papanasi donuts for dessert. After-dinner brandy made from the estate’s harvested fruit is perfect for warming up clams, and oenophiles will find an intriguing selection of emerging Romanian wines to try (the crunchy Villa Vinèa Diamant is especially good …).

    (Philip Vile)

(Philip Vile)

Structures

The estate is less of a hotel and more of a collection of properties for exclusive use, although the newly finished four-bed corner barn is now available to be reserved from the room. There’s a shared dining room (the kitchen’s cute and cozy barn), but the strict schedule – all guests on the estate must eat at the same time, and usually quite early in the evening – doesn’t suit everyone. There’s no spa, communal pool, or wellness space yet, but local therapists can be brought in for treatments, and there’s a wonderfully atmospheric wine cellar in the yet-to-be-renovated Manor House where guests can partake in wine tastings. by lantern light.

Extracurricular

Architecture enthusiasts will love the nearby old town of SighiÈ ™ oara. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is the only citadel in Romania with residential houses within its fortification, and the pastel-colored box facades, quirky clock tower, and messy buildings are worth climbing up. hill. The city also claims to be the “birthplace” of Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula (an interesting story, although local historians have many reasons as to why this simply can’t be true) . Elsewhere, and with sufficient notice, the Bethlen Estates team can also arrange more adrenaline-pumping activities, from snowshoeing to heli-skiing in the winter, horseback riding and bird watching on long summer evenings. But simply spending time on the estate, lulled by the tinkling of cow bells and the patter of peaks like pools of lilac mist in the valleys, is a pretty lovely way to pass the time.

    (Philip Vile)

(Philip Vile)

Which room?

The most luxurious option is the majestic Caretaker’s House, a four-bedroom property for exclusive use filled with Tom Dixon chandeliers and Egyptian linens (there’s also a private garden, sanarium, and pool). But couples and solo travelers should opt for a room in the cute little Corner Barn, which overlooks the estate’s central garden and is a quiet and elegant place to rest your head.

Best for …

Award-worthy design features and plentiful comfort food.

Details Corner Barn rooms cost £ 260 per night based on two sharing. Depner House costs £ 606 per night based on four shares (exclusive use only) and The Caretaker’s House costs £ 1,212 per night based on eight shares (exclusive use only). All rates are bed and breakfast; bethlenestates.com

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