Getting away from it all takes on a whole new meaning when traveling in Transylvania—and no where is this more apparent than when staying in an ancient village like Crit in a guesthouse like Casa cu Zorele.
Located about 50 miles from Brasov (or 149 miles from Bucharest) in one of the oldest Saxon villages in Transylvania, Casa cu Zorele— the Morning Glory House– was once a traditional Saxon farmhouse built in the 1700s. Meticulously and lovingly restored by owners Mihaela and Tibi (who changed their entire stress-filled city lifestyle in Brasov when they moved here several years ago), today the guesthouse features four thoughtfully designed, spacious (and spotless) rooms, each with private bath with shower, and all heated by newly made but old-fashioned tiled wood-burning stoves. It’s furnished with antiques and beautiful solid wood and hand-painted pieces, many designed by Tibi. The comfortable beds are fitted with linen sheets, and the bath towels smell of fresh air and sunlight from line drying.
Two little verandas overlook the medieval styled and walled backyard of the property—although you may have to share the patio space with two kitties that like to curl up on the outdoor table or chairs in the warm sunshine. There’s no t.v., no wi-fi (yet), no hairdryer or washcloths, no in-room espresso maker. But I can almost guarantee that if you stay here, a) you won’t care, b) you won’t want to leave and c) like me, you’ll plan to come back. It’s one of those places you never forget.
Mihaela says “in summer and spring, it is like heaven here,” with all the wildflowers and berries and fresh-from-the-garden fare. But I was excited to have a room booked here in the autumn when she and her husband offer truffle hunting –in the woods nearby—along with cooking class packages as part of their country inn experience. The setting at that time– with the landscape full of colorful changing foliage –seemed to me fairly close to paradise as well. Deep russet and yellow leaves gave the cool misty air an almost golden glow. And in the middle of the night when I awoke and thought there was a street lamp shining in on me, I realized it was simply the bright full moon in the night sky.
Breakfast and dinner are included in the room rate (the total for everything is an incredible bargain at approximately $59 per person a night—high by Romanian standards). Meals are served in the lovely wood-beamed dining room where an old photo of the original owners of the farmhouse is framed and other touches include more furniture designed by Tibi along with a gorgeous Transylvanian antique settee. Because the maximum number of guests is 8, it feels more like you’re eating at a friend’s home—that is, if you have friends who include an excellent cook and host.
Dinner after my truffle hunting excursion was a comfort food feast—“I cook the meals that I remember from my grandma,” said Mihaela. First a traditional aperitif is served, then homemade bread (made in the wood burning brick oven in one of the outbuildings) followed by pâtés, one made with the precious truffles we had unearthed earlier on the hunt (or rather the dogs found for us, and the trainer dug up), then a roast chicken with apples and mashed potatoes– accompanied with local Romanian wine. To finish it all off, there was the cake studded with wild raspberries that I had watched Mihaela mix up when I first arrived at the guesthouse.
Breakfast in the dining room the next morning was a locavore’s dream: Mihaela’s homemade yogurt, fresh butter and bread, cheese and eggs bought from the neighbors, wild berry confitures, fresh juice and local honey from a beekeeper you can visit in the summer. It’s truly ecotourism at its best. In truth, the guesthouse is a member of the Association of Ecotourism in Romania.
I can’t decide if it’s the tranquil location (not to mention the affordable price), the knowledgeable and welcoming English-speaking (they also speak Italian and French) owners who are so committed to conserving and sharing the local culture, or the fantastic food that makes this peaceful place so memorable. My conclusion is that it’s the combination of all of those things that makes Casa cu Zorele such an unforgettable getaway—whether you’re trying to get away from it all—or not.
Check out the guesthouse’s website for more information.
Review and photos by Donna Tabbert Long who was a guest at the Casa cu Zorele while on a tour of Transylvania in Romania.