Before I toured Transylvania, I had visions of misty medieval castles, haunted forests and of course, thanks to writer Bram Stoker–Count Dracula. But after a recent autumn visit there, I have a somewhat different picture. Transylvania today brings to my mind spectacular fall colors, tranquil countryside, ancient villages, and…outstanding lodgings. Case in point: the Fronius Residence boutique hotel in the beautiful 15th century fortified town of Sighisoara.
Located in the heart of the citadel, on one of its cobblestone streets, the Fronius Residence dates to 1609—and it has been restored beautifully. Named for an old Transylvanian Saxon family, the 5-star boutique hotel (there are only nine rooms over two floors, each individually decorated) was actually one of the few houses that survived the town’s devastating fire in 1676. On its façade, if you look high above the heavy wood door with its street number 13, there is even an original Latin inscription as a sign of thank you to God for being spared.
Inside, I walked through a tunnel-like bricked entryway—before reaching the sunny reception area (doors from there lead to a charming little courtyard with a view of the town’s famous clock tower).
A desk clerk sitting at an antique desk checked me in—reaching behind her for my key—which dangled with the other room keys from hooks on traditionally painted shelves. (Call me old-fashioned, but I love hotels that still have real room keys.) Nearby, it was apparent to me from a spin-around rack of postcards that Sighisoara is a popular tourist destination in Romania too.
Check in was quick and easy—most everyone in the Romanian hospitality business speaks English—and although there was no “lift”, the clerk whisked my suitcase up the one flight of stairs to my room without being asked.
My old-fashioned key opened the door to the “Antonia” room (each room has a different name) that was definitely not old or fashioned. It was stylish and historically restored with its arched ceiling, hardwood floor, a king-size bed with those great European duvets, and decorated with gorgeous antiques (including two spinning wheels, desk, dressing table, and elaborate wood mantel clock). Spotless and spacious, the room had windows that opened and overlooked the cobblestone street. It was cozy in a lovely elegant way. Free wi-fi, AC, a plasma t.v. and a mini bar obviously put it in the 21st century as well.
The bathroom was equally state-of-the-art—spacious and tiled with a deep soaking tub, a separate shower, and all the typical amenities, including a hairdryer.
Breakfast at the Fronius Residence was a delight–and not to be missed. A table laden with traditional Transylvanian specialties like tasty sausages, local sheep cheeses, plum jam, “zacusco” –a (delicious and healthy) vegetable spread you’ll find everywhere in Romania, and pastries sucha as homemade “placinto cu mere” similar to apple pie—plus a blueberry jam that the desk clerk told me proudly she had made herself. Eggs were prepared to order.
A small bar/lounge is located in the “cellar” room on the same main floor—and it’s near the original water well –said to have been what saved the historical building in the fire way back when. Amazingly, it is still an operating well.
Sighisoara is a World Heritage site and a pretty and walkable town with eleven towers—among them the Tailors’ Tower and the Shoemakers’ Tower. If you climb to the top of the Clock Tower, you can see for yourself the well-preserved red-tiled roof houses of the 16th century that line these picturesque narrow streets. And for those on the Dracula trail, you can also visit the house where Vlad Dracula was born in 1431.
For more information, check out the website. Rooms range from approximately $95 to $162 USD–true luxury on a shoestring (although by Romanian standards, even this was considered price-y).
Review and photographs by Donna Tabbert Long who was a guest of the hotel’s while on a tour of Transylvania.