Evening sunshine pours its illuminating bounties from an azure blue sky as I float leisurely in an outdoor infinity pool with a rolling vineyard and the softly flowing Danube as a bucolic backdrop.
Such is one of the rejuvenating rewards I enjoyed during a recent stay at Seven Generations Winery, Hotel and Spa outside the village of Mechka in northern Bulgaria, close to the Romanian border.
Constructed and operated by friendly couple, Luben and Jo Rabchev, this 33-room property is set amidst verdant, gently-sloping hills rolling down to the broad Danube River.
The property has an intriguing history.
Luben, who was born in the area before emigrating to America to seek fame and fortune, is descended from Ilia Rabchev who went to France in 1878 to study the secrets of wine-making. Four years later, Ilia returned to the village of Byala Cherkva and founded the ‘Rabchev’ wine cellar, which soon became the largest producer of wines and spirits in the region.
Luben returned from the US to Bulgaria determined to continue his family’s illustrious tradition, creating his boutique hotel from scratch, a property that has become increasingly more popular as word spreads about its many attributes, including fine food and wines.
Our room, 33, featuring a high raftered wooden ceiling, was spacious, with spectacular views over the vineyard and the Danube River beyond through floor-to-ceiling windows. Furnishings included a sofa, table and chairs, refrigerator and a large-screen TV suspended on a central pillar. Still life and landscape paintings adorned the walls.
A highlight of our stay here was stepping through sliding glass doors to our patio in the evenings in robes provided by the hotel, lying back comfortably on padded recliners and watching the sun slowly set on the horizon. Adding convenience to comfort, a few steps from our door an elevator took us directly down to the spa area when we felt like a little pampering.
Relaxation is the essence of Seven Generations, a feeling enhanced not just by its prime location but its welcoming open terraces, infinity pool, spa complete with jacuzzi, sauna, steam and infrared rooms and massage cubicle. Not to mention its pet farm featuring goats, dogs, sheep, donkeys, pigeons, hens and turkeys, which keep children immensely entertained. For those guests in a more reflective mood, convenient seating overlooking the property’s gently sloping vineyard provides quiet moments for rest and relaxation.
A soothing sense of rusticity at Seven Generations is created by oak barrels positioned throughout the property, wooden seats under overhead vines, a gentle-sounding artisan fountain and wooden wagons loaded with hay and twigs.
Activities at the property are plentiful. Aside from outdoor swimming and the spa, there is also table tennis and a wine-tasting room, with Seven Generations having won seven medals for their high-level quality. The hotel also rents bicycles for those who wish to explore the surrounding countryside while individual and group tours of the property and vineyard are conducted on colorful vehicles.
Such is the hotel’s reputation as a ‘get-away’ vacation resort, Alexander Kondev, a tourism information officer in the nearby border town of Ruse, said, “it’s a beautifully designed property that has attracted many local and international visitors who speak highly about it after their stay.”
Dining opportunities are varied, either indoors at the hotel’s main Historic Restaurant or alfresco on its Riverview Terrace overlooking the vineyard and Danube, the Vine Covered Courtyard tables, or, a short walking distance away, the poolside Summer Garden Poolside featuring a large wood-fired stone oven where barbeques are prepared.
To give a sense of food variety, the restaurant menu features 21 separate salads, ranging from the traditional Bulgarian shopska with cucumbers, tomatoes, chilli pepper, olive, green pepper, red onion and white cheese to a special vitamin option comprising marinated beetroot, sprouts, olive oil, lemon and salt. It also offers seven cold and ten warm starters, including tarama caviar and roasted quail, not to mention six soups, some seasonal. Mains are even more impressive with 18 separate fish and seafood dishes, 11 vegetarian options and meat dishes including duck, rabbit and lamb.
The restaurant offers guests the choice of what is termed, ‘a small bites menu’ or five-course lunch or dinner.
Seven Generations is also a popular venue for weddings and other personal occasions, offering a special 300 square meter hall with seating for up to 150 people inside and 200 people outside on a hall terrace.
If it’s a relaxing, rural European vacation you seek in an historic setting with fine food and wines and plenty of activities, Seven Generations Winery, Hotel and Spa is well worth considering. And the riverside town of Ruse, known as the ‘Little Vienna,’ with its museums, art galleries, cafes and restaurants is a scenic 30-minute drive away.