Count Kalnoky's guesthouse is located in Miklosvar, a village populated almost exclusively by ethnic-Hungarian Szecklers.
The style is distinct from the Saxon villages only a few miles away with less emphasis on defensive fortifications and none of the telltale 'broken' roof ends that are a throwback to the architecture of the Saxons original homeland.
There are two rooms in the main house, another two in an adjoining outhouse, and a further six in an annex five minutes walk away. The annex is based around a small garden with a well, and has a billiards room and sauna on hand.
The rooms themselves are done up in traditional Hungarian style, with Dutch ovens and authentic furniture. The bathrooms are a little on the functional side, but the overall effect is charming.
The cosy main house is decorated with locally woven rugs, coats of arms as reminders of the owner's aristocratic heritage and has a very homestay feel. In spring and summer the evening ritual is for all the guests to congregate on benches overlooking the main street to watch the village herd of cows come off the hillside and down the street before turning off into the farmyards of their homes for milking. They know exactly where to without any prompting.
After this spectacle of an ancient agrarian tradition, guests themselves wander down into the cande-lit cellar of the house past wine racks full of local vintages to enjoy an evening of communal dining. The food (and wine) consists of excellent quality versions on Hungarian classics.
Activities on offer include cultural tours of the village (including the old Kalnoky hunting lodge, where there is yet another en suite bathroom), riding and trips to forest hides to spot bears in the wild.
Why We Love It
Transylvania only became part of Romania in 1918, so there are still large pockets of ethnic Hungarians in the area, of which Miklosvar is one. You will probably not hear a word of Romanian during your stay here
Visit Prince Charles and Count Kalnoky's guesthouse in the remote village of Zalanpatak and you might feel you've stepped back in time a couple of hundred years.
The village itself is reached by a bumpy track that might technically qualify as a road when looking at a map, but clings to the definition with white knuckles. The drive is well worth it, though, because the village and the guesthouse at the end of it are bucolic perfection, pure and simple.
The charming main building houses the Prince's bedroom and two others, while there are two more rooms in a pretty outhouse with a terrace that catches the evening sun. A further two rooms are coming soon. To complete the picture perfect scene, there is a wonderful old wooden barn, a cornflower blue cottage which houses the kitchen, breakfast room and a comfortable drawing room, and finally an open-sided hut with a wood-burning stove where delicious lunches (and, in summer, breakfasts, teas and suppers too) are served.
The rooms themselves are designed in traditional style with small but functional bathrooms, all of which have showers except the Prince's room which has a large rolltop bath.
The chef from the village cooks up delicious Hungarian specialities such as Szeckler goulash or pancakes filled with sweet cheese, best washed down with Harghita, the local beer, or some of the very good local wine.
This is somewhere to sit and contemplate a way of life long since consigned to history in the UK, but there are also plenty of excellent local activities on offer as well, including long walks, riding, trips to forest hides for bear spotting, horse and cart rides into the hills for picnics, and visits to the village.
Why We Love It
Take your binoculars. There is a lovely open meadow on the valley slopes opposite the guesthouse, and it's not unheard of to see wild boars and bears strolling through the long grass and wild flower meadows in summer.
The Inn on Balaban
The Inn on Balaban is just two miles as the bat flies from Bran Castle, famously - but incorrectly - believed to be that of Count Dracula or his factual counterpart Vlad the Impaler.
The guesthouse is in a beautiful location at the far end of a bumpy track on a spur overlooking valleys dotted with picture perfect wooden barns and the brooding presence in the middle distance of the Piatra Craiului (Rock of the King) mountain range.
The inn is designed in traditional Romanian style with shingled (wooden tiled) roofs and tastefully decorated interiors, and there are eleven bedrooms spread across three buildings. Some of the rooms are adjoining to create perfect family suites, and the Peasant House with one double, one twin and one single bedroom is ideal for bigger families.
This is a place to sit back and contemplate a rural way of life long since vanished in the UK. Alternatively there's walking and riding along forest or sheep trails in a Carpathian setting, or trips to Bran Castle, Rasnov medieval citadel, the Piatra Craiului National Park or remote local villages.
The food on offer is tasty and traditional Romanian home cooking best toasted with palinca, a punchy plum brandy, or some of the really quite good local wines.
Why We Love It
We recommend the three-mile cross-country walk down to Bran Castle, strategically placed on one of the few mountain passes along the border between Transylvania and Wallachia. Even better, the friendly staff will come and pick you up if you would rather avoid the uphill leg