From 60 euros (about $71, at .84 euros to the dollar).
When you show up at La Hansi, a restored Saxon farmhouse that opened last October as an 11-room bed-and-breakfast in the Transylvania countryside, it’s hard to ignore the feeling that time has moved backward. The neat wooden gate opens onto a cobblestone lane, at the end of which is a working well; to the left, a 500-year-old wine press (townspeople used to pay a fee to crush their grapes here). On the right, a squat row of buildings with slanting tile roofs contain the guest rooms, some of which were former sleeping quarters for livestock. This tranquil property, once owned by a wealthy family of German carpenters, now has their disused farm tools — rustic wooden troughs, spindles, brass scales — scattered around as décor. Hotelier Joan Lazar tells me he traveled around the region, sourcing furniture and ceramic wares to honor the house’s rich past.
Off the main road that connects Brasov and Sighisoara (Bucharest is two hours away), Criț, a town of 500 residents where the property is, is surrounded by sloping green pastures and dense forest. Prince Charles, a champion for the preservation of Saxon architecture, makes annual visits to Transylvania, where he has a house seven miles away. Life here moves at a different pace: at night, there are no streetlights, just the chirp of crickets and the giggling of neighborhood teens huddled in a grassy area in the middle of town.
Rooms have been stripped down to their essence, revealing only what would have appeared in the 17th and 18th centuries. While there are overhead lights, there are no bedside reading lamps. Everything feels handworked: smooth white plaster walls and primitively carved wooden bed frames. Some rooms have the original tiled stoves for heating. Mine was charmingly simple — just a china cabinet, a painted chest that doubled as my nightstand. A two-foot-thick wall separates each room, and the lack of ambient noise gave me the best night’s sleep I’ve had in years. No keys, either; my door, which was reinforced with iron studs, opened and closed with a basic latch.
In keeping with La Hansi’s spartan aesthetic, the private bathroom was tidy and plain, with a light wood basin, framed by hand-painted tiles, and a mirror above. The shower was half-enclosed by a glass partition. There were ample white towels, a bar of soap and two packets of shampoo.
The property’s owners organize bike tours through Transylvania’s hills, bread-baking classes, and visits to the seven nearby Unesco World Heritage Sites, all fortified churches from the 13th and 14th centuries. Like a fortress against the modern world, there is no TV, no telephone, no minibar (though there is Wi-Fi). Evenings are typically quiet. You’ll have the chance to unwind over a glass of wine or plum brandy.
Guests convene in an open-plan barn with high rafters and several communal wooden tables, laid with white-and-red stitched tablecloths. The oak beams are hung with antique flour sifters and cow bells. An original wood-burning oven is used to bake bread. Transylvanian cuisine is not for the meat-and-dairy-averse: dishes include bulz, a sort of polenta casserole bubbling with bryndza cheese, along with sausages, slanina (smoked pork fat) and a board with seven types of locally made goat cheese. Breakfast, a lighter affair, featured homemade jams, sliced fresh tomatoes, and soft farmer’s cheese with rolls.
Blissful isolation in a painstakingly restored 500-year-old farmhouse, plus affordable rates, make the trek into this remote corner of Transylvania worthwhile.
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