Entering through the gates of Das Fort Boutique guesthouse in Transylvania means entering a bygone era.
A time before plastic and concrete blocks, a time when wood was king.
Reminding one of an enclosed hamlet, this rustic nine-room boutique property was opened three years ago by its Bucharest-based architect owners after seven months of renovation.
Its location is a strong part of its attraction, sitting under the shadow of an ancient forest and 14th century Rosenau Citadel, one of the best preserved fortresses in the region, and close to the Bucegi Mountains.
The property comprises three old Saxon houses restored to their original state, with modern conveniences added for guest comfort.
Distinguishing vintage features include wooden beams, intricate hand-painted ceilings and traditional stoves with decorative ceramic tile surround. These combine with modern materials such as sliding glass facades and designer furnishings from brand names such as William Holland, Chesterfield, Aldo Bernardi, Il Fanale, Riva 1920 and Donghia.
The Painter’s House comprises a restaurant on one floor and three suites above.
Our two-floor duplex was located here, with our bedroom on the upper level.
It featured a high ceiling, polished wood floor, leather couch, free-standing copper bathtub and a verandah with table and chairs and views down over a small cobblestone inner square. Furnishings included a flat screen TV and a writing desk. Slippers and robe were provided. Potted flowers decorated the windowsills, with batches of ivy enhancing the closeness of nature all around.
The Barn House is where a lounge and breakfast salon are located together with four suites, suitable for families. The lounge, which doubles as a breakfast room, features bare brick and beams, polished wood floors, soft armchairs and an open fireplace that grants it a homely feel. For added relaxation, outdoor seating in front of the lounge provides a good place to sip tea or wine, breathe in fresh mountain air and enjoy the sunset.
The Artisan’s House honors the building’s original purpose as an art and creation space. It includes a sauna which can be enhanced with refreshing scents of lavender, orange blossom or eucalyptus. There is also a sports room equipped with a rowing machine and a bike with adjustable resistance levels.
For a boutique rural property, the restaurant’s menu is impressive, ranging from gnocchi and duck breast to tuna, turbot and beef tenderloin.
On one particular evening we enjoyed a leisurely dinner alfresco served wonderfully by two brothers, Andrei and Iancu Robert Pascu. It comprised starters of cream spinach soup and an antipasta of avocado, aubergine salad, hummus, baked peppers, artichoke, coleslaw of carrot and celeriac, followed by mains of wood pigeon cooked with nutmeg and free-range Mangalitsa pork with green pepper sauce.
In addition to a wide-ranging wine list, including a Fințești Fetească Neagră 1000 de Chipuri, a dry red wine of intense ruby color, it also included range of traditional palincas, a strong fruit brandy, made at Palincaria Transylvania in the nearby town of Rasnov.
For an insight into local culture, be sure to visit this distillery. Established five years ago, friendly owner, Ilie Galben, makes 2,000 litres a year of 14 different palincas, including cherry, strawberry, quince, plum, apricot and grape. Galben buys the fruits from local farmers, then matures them in barrels for six months in his cellar, making between six and ten litres of brandy from 100 litres of fruit.
Aside from visits to the fortress on foot or by special elevator, hiking most of the year and skiing in winter, Das Fort is less than a kilometer from Dino Parc, an open-air theme-park featuring one hundred life-size dinosaur reproductions, a children’s playground, a cinema and science exhibitions. Guests can also take a guided tour of nearby Valea Cetății Cave.