Deep in Transylvania, in a bucolic landscape from another age, lies the
'perfect retreat' of the Heir to the British Throne: not a palace, but beautifully restored country guesthouses, where our Members are invited to stay

HRH The Prince of Wales invites CountryClubuk Members to enjoy his country homes deep in Transylvania, and a third owned by his friend Count Kálnoky. This is where the Prince goes to unwind—not in palaces but deeply rural, beautifully restored guesthouses. They stand in one of the most picturesque and idyllic regions in all Europe, filled with flower meadows and virgin forests, a natural farming country where farmworkers still harvest using scythes, where brown bears roam and where elderflowers comprise the major farm crop.



It is, as one might imagine, the perfect retreat for the Prince of Wales, himself a pioneer of organic farming. He first went to Transylvania in 1998, and, as he puts it, became ‘totally overwhelmed by its unique beauty and its extraordinarily rich heritage’.

It will surely be a fascinating holiday idea to follow, literally, in the Prince’s footsteps—and perhaps to sleep in the room where customarily the Prince lays his head—and to find out what so attracted him to this countryside that he has already bought and restored two properties and is buying a third.

CountryClubuk has therefore arranged for this to happen. Through us and the Count it is incredibly easy to do: you can stay in all three guesthouses (unless the Prince is actually in residence), with the Count as your host, and be transported between them. You will be thoroughly cared for and cooked for by the Prince’s own local staff, drink wine from his cellars, have guided tours from his local historian and ecologist, set out on bear-watching, tracking and bird-watching expeditions and historical visits, and go riding, either on horseback, or in the horse and trap—and, in winter, horse and sleigh. You can also take a riding trail—a week, three days or a single day, just as you wish.

The Prince's idea is to rediscover the cultural and natural diversity of this unspoilt part of Europe, and to meet the local people—who adore the Prince since he took an interest in their lives and livelihoods. Such as Neni Etelka, 78-year-old matriarch of the watermill at Kisbacon, which has been grinding the local wheat for nearly three centuries. Neni has a photograph of Prince Charles, and another of herself on the back of a motorbike ridden by Prince Harry, who visited with friends on a road tour.

As to the guesthouses, the Prince’s properties are at Viscri (his first, in Brasov county) and at Zalanpatak (Covasna county). The Count`s is in Miklosvar. The Prince's house in Zalanpatak is the former residence of the village judge, and is accessible only along a bumpy road. There is little traffic; the only sounds are of birdsong, the tinkling waters of a nearby stream, the hum of insects, the occasional rattle of horse and trap and, on winter nights, the howling of wolves.



Here there are seven rooms in three cottages, all stylish and comfortable rather than lavish, and with en-suite bathrooms. The main house has a drawing/dining room and kitchen, there is a barn and an alcove with benches and tables, set up for dining outdoors.

Zalanpatak is extraordinarily picturesque and peaceful. Across the valley the rolling hills are punctuated by streams, by clusters of trees and old-fashioned hayricks, and meadows tended by men wielding hoes and cutting the corn using scythes. It is a scene straight out of Pieter Brueghel's 'Harvesters'—a picture that was painted in the 16th century.


Viscri is a Unesco-designated step back in time to the culture of the ‘Saxons’, the Germans who arrived from the Moselle and Luxembourg areas to defend Transylvania from invaders from the east. Many returned to Germany in the 1990s, offered citizenship after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Their churches still stand, one outstanding example of which is in Viscri. The surrounding countryside is a paradise for Nature lovers; here you will see spotted eagles riding the air waves, as well as hoopoes and the region's ubiquitous storks—and butterflies including swallowtails and clouded yellows.

The Prince’s guesthouse at Viscri is more simple than the one at Zalanpatak. It has three bedrooms (one with its own bathroom, the other two share a bathroom), a downstairs living room and cooking area with an original wood-burning stove, and a large garden. It is open from May to September.

From Viscri, the drive to Count Kálnoky's guesthouse, Miklosvar, runs through countryside that is almost unbelievably beautiful. Miklosvar is arranged around a courtyard containing a well. The room favoured by the Prince (room four), is filled with furnishings from the region’s Hungarian heritage.

Miklosvar is a good base for trips to the settlements of Sighisoara and Brasov—and to the Bran Castle of Dracula fame (who can forget Transylvania's fictional anti-hero and the non-fictional character on whom he is modelled—Vlad The Impaler, with whom the Prince claims kinship?). It is a place from which to visit (and swim in) Saint Anna Lake, picturesquely contained in a crater, to take Nature trails, see bears, boar, deer and hares, to walk in the Carpathian foothills, or go by horse and trap.

And this is far from being a summer holiday only: winter is a most beautiful season in Transylvania, fresh snow cloaking the forests and houses. Winter lasts from the end of October to the beginning of April, and it means you can enjoy a fairytale experience, from sledge rides down the volcano crater to skating on the frozen lake of St Anna, or skiing at Poiana Brasov, or tracking wildlife in the snow, or sleigh-riding under thick fur blankets.

All in all, the Prince’s Transylvanian enterprise offers a unique chance to follow, literally, in the Prince's footsteps on a journey, not only across an untouched landscape, but also back in time.

How to get there

You can fly to Bucharest and take the train to Braşov (2 hours 30 minutes). Pick-up from the closest stations to Miklósvár (Apaţa or Augustin) is free of charge. The nearest airport is Tirgu Mures (TGM), less than 150km from the Prince of Wales's properties. Low-cost airline Wizzair flies from London Luton four days a week. Flights to Bucharest are more regular. Other airports are Sibiu and Cluj Napoca. A meet-and-greet service can be arranged at any of these airports.

Exclusive Club rates

Rates start from 36 euros per person per night sharing a double room, including copious breakfast. ‘All inclusive’ starts from £122 per person per day and includes guided excursions and activities, entry fees, full board with wine and restaurant meals, à la carte or picnics during the tours, all transport (including transfers between the locations) and taxes. To check availability, to be first to book the Blue Ribbon stay, and for all other dates and rates, please call Member Services on 020 7399 2960 or follow the link below.

Enquire about availability.

 
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¶ Our exclusive Club rates are available to Members and their travelling companions only. To check the hotel's availability on your preferred dates, please click the specific hotel link (above or left) or visit the Club website Travel pages to browse more hotels (click here) or call Member Services on 020 7399 2960.




All rates and rooms are subject to availability and price fluctuations at the time of booking.
Bookings are made subject to our full Terms & Conditions (please read them by clicking the link below).


11 Princes Street, Mayfair, London W1B 2LJ. UK. Tel: 020 7399 2960. Web: www.countryclubuk.com.