The Zabola estate in Transylvania, Romania is a firm favourite of ours, and Kevin and I fell in love with the place about 5 years ago. It is a magical place in a beautiful setting with some of Europe's most pristine cultural heritage within reach. In Zabola time slows down to a gentle amble. It is charming and delightful, as well as relaxing and romantic.
However it is more than that as it also has an amazing history and story to it where the original family have managed to regain their estate and are slowly restoring the estate back to its former glory of before the communist era. After the harrowing years of Communism, while the estate was expropriated and the family displaced, a new generation, Katalin Roy Chowdhury - Mikes (born Countess Mikes) and her sons Alexander and Gregor - with his wife Zsolna - returned to Transylvania to rebuild their ancestral home as a modern, private estate.
Transylvania is like stepping back in time, and when we visited it was hay cutting season and the roads were crowded with horse drawn carts taking the hay back to the farms. It was fascinating to see and the locals were very open to us wandering over to watch.
When we visited we stayed in the Machine House in the Red Room with its own free standing bath tub, discreetly placed behind a screen. Set in the grounds of the estate you have free reign to explore the gardens, river, lake and large swimming pool. Hammocks and comfy chairs are placed under shady trees, a rowing boat is available on the lake, and romantic meals can be organised in the grounds.
Our private guide shared with us the highlights of Transylvania including the extraordinary medieval citadel of Sighisoara , the Unesco 13th Century church at Gelence with its 14th Century Frescoes, as well as the more well known Bran (aka Dracula Castle), and the beautifully located Rasnov Fortress.
We had a charming open horse and carriage ride through the village and surrounding estate, but the highlight for us was the wild bear watching. We were driven though a stunning wilderness forest to a hide to sit and wait for the Bears who arrived at dusk. A family of 3, and it was delightful to watch the interaction between the father and the cub who was “pushing its luck”!
The family are constantly working to increase their offering and a new addition is a candelight dinner for two in an open pavilion in the woods at sunset. This is THE place on the estate to watch sunsets with stunning views of the Volcanic hills to the NorthWest and the Carpathians to the South. If you are lucky you may even see a few deer as you sip your prosecco ! We suggest you save this for your last evening as a wonderful way to round off your trip.
Another new offering is you can take a Finish Sauna in the forest – again in a superb setting with views of the Harommszek plain and Carpathian Mountains.
They have also just opened a new converted outhouse to accommodation – The Old Saddlehouse. This is perfect for groups for up to 8 guests and comes with its own drawing room with large open fireplace – adorned with the familys crest! Equipped with an ipod and dvds it is a perfect place to take over for a Special Occasion celebration.
Private romantic meals can be taken here where 100 candles will be placed around your dining table and on the private roof terrace reserved exclusively for you; What better place to celebrate that anniversary or significant birthday then on a Translyvanian Holiday ?!