Stepping into the lobby of The Throne in central Transylvania, we thought we had inadvertently entered a time warp.
For this charming boutique hotel in the heart of the medieval town of Sighisoara, with a history dating back more than 350 years, offers luxury in a time capsule.
Opened two years ago following major renovations, this three-floor, eight-room property plays host to an array of elegant furnishings from a bygone age, including intricately-carved 19th century Romanian-style art nouveau furniture of oak and walnut.
The lobby itself features brick walls and an arched ceiling, a reminder of its former use as a cellar where wine and food were stored. An old clock mechanism from a 19th century church at one end of the room, leather-bound chairs from the interwar period and even old pinball games give one the distinct feeling of being in a different era.
Our room, Number 1, reached up a short flight of wooden steps was a blend of old and new. A spacious glass-walled, walk-in shower stood beside the remains of the original 15th century wall. A modern air-conditioning unit kept us cool in the heat of summer in Romania while all around us were vintage artefacts such as a brass microscope, a gas lamp, a wooden cash register used in shops in the mid-1900s, a pair of travelling chests and twin throne-like chairs with images of vultures engraved on them, the emblem of the ancient flag of the region, Wallachia. We slept on a comfortable bed featuring a century-old headboard, with side tables with onyx countertops. Our room also featured a flat-screen TV and free WiFi.
A major advantage of The Throne, which will soon expand to incorporate another four rooms and an open courtyard, is its central location less than 200 meters from the Citadel Square and the town’s ornate Clock Tower. This is where open-air shows of all kinds take place and we were fortunate to be here during the annual Medieval Festival and enjoyed performances by costumed jugglers, singers and dancers.
Located on a cobblestoned street, The Throne also overlooks an excellent restaurant, the Medieval Café, where hotel guests are served breakfast, either inside or alfresco. We feasted royally on omelettes flavored with local ham and the biggest basket of succulent sausages ever set down before me. Blackcurrant, ginger, cinnamon and sea buckthorn were among a range of fresh juices on offer.
The restaurant also serves lunches and dinners from a generous 20-page menu, including ‘Dracula potatoes’ (brown potatoes, honey and pepper chilly jam), goulash and tripe soup, as well as various homemade pies including cabbage, mushroom, sweet cheese, plum, wild cherry and rhubarb.
The Throne is also close the one of the city’s leading museums, Casa Breslelor (The Guild House), focusing on the ancient guilds of the town such as blacksmiths, weavers and silversmiths. Rares Sopterean, the museum’s director, has used his specialized doctoral studies in medieval literature at the University of Targu Mures to great effect, creating a fascinating glimpse into aspects of the region’s history with a series of rare artefacts.