55 independent reviews for Transylvania holiday accommodation

Reviews for Transylvania holiday accommodation

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review 4 Jan 2017

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The peace and tranquillity of this beautiful valley was stunning. All the staff and guides - particularly Gabo - were friendly and knowledgeable, and did their utmost to make us feel comfortable and at home.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

The bedrooms and dining rooms were kept at a very cosy level but outside it was so cold that the water pipes to one bedroom froze. Make sure to take warm clothing and boots for outdoors, as the temperature dropped to -20C one night!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

We felt that we were enabling local people to find employment in a sustainable and direct way, by sharing their skills and knowledge.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Just fantastic, we would like to return to appreciate this special place at another time of year, probably spring or autumn. A small disappointment was that we did not set eyes on wildlife such as bears and wolves, although we saw much evidence of their presence in the snow.

review 17 Oct 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

It was the perfect 'get away from it all' trip where you really felt like you were stepping back in time. The location, nature and wildlife were stunning and I particularly enjoyed meeting many different people staying at both the guesthouses. It made for some interesting conversations at mealtimes.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

If you are making your own way to either location from the airport to the station, make sure you use an authorised Taxi company. Some drivers are not adverse to turning the meter away from view and adding extras. Also, if you are joining the guided walks, make sure you bring good footwear , binoculars and a few snacks as there is a small village shop which may not be open when you return hungry!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

I think the holiday benefited local people in the remote villages as they could interact with tourists ; some locals were employed by the guesthouses and many made the effort to practice their English. Travellers also brought a small amount of trade to the village shops. The small museum which was set up in the village of Zalanpatak was of particular interest to travellers who were keen to learn more about the history and customs of local people.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

As it was very remote, it was quite time consuming to reach the guesthouses but once you were there you could forget the hustle and bustle of everyday life. I travelled alone and this was not a problem as I was able to join the organised trips each day and meet new people. I would definitely recommend seeing the real Transylvania.

review 9 Aug 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

We were impressed by the beauty of Romania. It was really opened up for us by the excellent guides at the guesthouse, who showed us places and things we would never have found on our own.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

The thing we found most difficult was the heat at night as there was not air conditioning and our room in the eaves of an old house became very warm.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes. Tourism in Romania is an important source of revenue, in particular for restoration of heritage buildings. It helped us to gain a greater understanding of the Romanian people and culture.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Despite a few mishaps with bad Romanian roads, we thoroughly enjoyed out holiday and would recommend it to anyone interested in learning about this fascinating part of Europe

review 3 Aug 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

So many things that it is difficult to pick one! The people Edň, Renŕta, Marika, Margit, Izolda, Piri and Csaba, the tours to Volcanic Crater Lake. On the summit of Mount Csomad, VISCRI (Deutschweisskirch, Szaszfeheregyhaza) we went to a fortified church which is on UNESCO'S World Heritage List, SIGHISOARAq (Schaessburg, Segesvar) the only Renaissance place to have been lived in continuously. B RAN (Toerzburg, Toercsvar) to see Castle Bran which was used in Bram Stokers Dracula story as his castle. Although this is totally untrue the castle was definitely worth seeing and very beautiful. RASNOV (Rosenburg, Rozsnyo) to see the fort. This was built by peasants as a place of retreat in times of invasion. BRASOV (Kronstadt, Brasso) Round the old parts of the city and saw the Church of Mary, (AKA The Black Madonna) also known as the Black Church. PREJMER ( Tartlau, Prazsmar) Here we visited the fortified fort and the Church within. The Land of the SZEKLERS (Székely) The eastern Carpathians is the traditional home of the Szekler people, closely related to the Magyars who speak a distinctive Hungarian accent and cherish a special historical identity. The GORGE and CAVE of the Pied Piper, The Almas cave in the gorge of the Vargyas river. All these tours and also visiting local crafts with our very knowledgeable guides Siri Istvŕn Attilla Ernest The traditional food and estate wine, the quietness of Miklosvar, dinner with the other guests. Ideal.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

The only tip would be check train times from Bucharest and use only official taxis

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

As this was a UNESCO world heritage area we knew conservation area was paramount. We paid the local crafts people directly for their goods and Count Kalnoky's Guesthouse brings employment to the village of Miklosvar.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Fantastic would definitely recommend and hope to return

review 10 Jul 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

This is difficult, as from the moment we were greeted at the airport every moment was memorable. Every day was filled with new experiences and sights. Walking through meadows filled with wild flowers long since gone from British fields, seeing farming practices from a by gone age, storks on the chimney pots, cows walking down the street on their way home from the meadows, and of course... the Bears! Just so amazing. The country side was spectacular as we travelled with our guide to see Saxon fortified churches, castles, and forts. The beautiful forests where we picked mushrooms to have for lunch, the mountains we drove through, the far reaching vistas of well cared for land truly awe inspiring. The wonderful guest house we stayed at where the staff could not have been more helpful. Meals taken under the vines or the candle lit cellar, were of local produce and regional dishes. Sharing experiences with other guests from all over the world was so interesting. Watching the evening procession of the cows returning from their meadows down the street in front of the guest house, they calmly walked off into their own barns their owners waiting for them was truly wonderful. This was such a brilliant experience in every way and I intend to return.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Take advantage of the trips on offer and the suggestions of Renate the manager who is exceptional. Hiring a car would give you more independence, though the roads in the countryside are not all tarmac! Be warned! Get out and about and see as much as you can of the beautiful countryside and customs.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

When we met the count he told us how many people he was employing in the guest houses. They were locals from the village or neighbouring villages. So that has to be a positive outcome, also he is encouraging a revival of traditional crafts and skills to stock in his craft shop.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

In every way it exceeded my expectations, the beauty of the environment, the quality of the accommodation, the standard of service, the tremendous bio diversity of flora and fauna. To escape from the madness and chaos of post referendum UK to the beautiful peace and quiet of the estate was heaven! I shall definitely return. Thank you Responsible Travel for giving me the opportunity to have such a grand time.

review 26 Apr 2014

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Sitting on the back of a horse drawn cart big taken higher up in the beautiful forest clad Hills surrounding Zalanpatak in Transylvania. The spring Alpine flowers were just beginning to come into bloom and it was a perfect opportunity for our guide to prepare an open fire BBQ picnic!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Hire a car. Once you have slowed down for your first horse drawn cart you will quickly immerse yourself into driving Romanian style. With so much to see from amazing volcanic lakes to Saxon fortified villages a car is essential to get the most out of your time there.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Most certainly, all our food was locally sourced and prepared and the staff were all locally recruited. From providing a few impulsive lifts to local hitch hikers and having the privilege of visiting the amazing Ibbi who runs an orphanage in Targu Mures we felt our holiday made a small difference.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

With 4 sons and a large mountain dog usually in tow this was the first holiday for my wife and I, abroad, on our own for 32 years. We had an amazing time and will be returning. It was the perfect place to do more, see more and talk more. Hopefully won’t be 32 years until the next holiday together!

review 25 Apr 2014

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The unspoiled nature (except for the large amount of litter especially in and around rivers), the poverty of the people, although they seem happy (a lesson we should learn in our consumer society).Although we did not see any large carnivores directly, we found lots of signs and tracks, something which is unimaginable in Central Europe.We saw a Lesser Spotted Eagle quite close, a memorable sight.And last but not least the superb dinners in the wine cellar with open fire and an excellent local red wine and pleasant discussions with interesting people.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Best date for the holiday is May/June, then the meadows are full of wild flowers and wildlife is at point of culmination.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Local people are employed at the guest houses and one feels that the operator knows about the importance of high biodiversity and unspoiled nature for the success of tourism in this region.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

An unforgettable holiday in a remote region of Europe, far away from mass tourism.

review 14 Aug 2013

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

It was all brilliant. Fantastic staff, extremely well looked after. The tour guides were great, the scenery amazing and the chance to see crafts being maintained was lovely.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Extremely hot in August, so you don't need to pack much! Take insect repellent. If you book all inclusive, you really don't need to take any money, but you are able to buy gifts in the towns and if you visit the watermill, leather worker or wood carver, you can buy lovely quality, handmade items.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Absolutely. It highlighted a very different way of life and we bought from the crafts people we visited, not the tourist locations.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Amazing, would thoroughly recommend to anyone wanting to experience a different, relaxed way of life. We took our 20 month son and they catered for him brilliantly - cot, high chair, his own little bowl and plate as well as having a sand pit and swing - but he was just as interested in seeing the horses, cows, chickens and ducks. The local villagers also made us very welcome.

review 14 Aug 2013

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Seeing a bear!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

I would recommend the full board for convenience all the guides very knowledgeable.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Brilliant!

review 2 Nov 2012

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The trip to volcanic lake with fall colors and naturalist guide.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Layered clothes, be prepared for great food. If older or unsteady on feet bring walking sticks. There was a family there while we were there and the children appeared to enjoy the as much as the adults!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, the food was purchased from local village and the staff was employed from that village. The vegetables were grown in their garden and plowed using horse. Refuse was recycled and composted. Lights were led and candles and fire place were used in evening. Rooms were heated with wood and steam.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

I would give it a 10. It is an experience that we will remember always and fondly. We have even invited members of the staff to visit us in the USA.

review 6 Sep 2012

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Everything was memorable about this holiday. The itinerary provided offered an excellent opportunity to experience the beautiful countryside, towns, nature and lovely people of this area of Transylvania. The accommodation was comfortable, homely and very traditional. I did notice a lack of garlic nailed above my bedroom door though - was I to be the sacrifice if one was needed?? The food was delicious and as a vegetarian I was very well catered for. The guides were great, very knowledgeable and very nice company to boot - so thank you especially to Monika, Elod and Csaba for giving me a lovely holiday.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Try to learn some Hungarian - very difficult but it's appreciated if you try! Have a walk around the villages, especially on a Sunday afternoon when there’s lots of locals sitting on the seats outside their homes to say 'Hello' to. Don't try to resist the potato bread - resistance is futile....

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

I stayed in both Miklosvar and Zalanpatak and in both places locals were employed. These accommodations have used local craftsman to both restore, furnish and decorate in a traditional way. Local food was cooked wherever possible. The nature guides sought to give us a try appreciation of this unique environment.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

How soon can I go back??

review 14 Jul 2012

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

More than what we actually saw, it was more to do with experiencing the laid back way of life, and being able to totally disconnect. We especially enjoyed the evening meals with the rest of the holiday makers, who certainly were not run of the mill tourists. They made for fascinating conversations.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

The food was very nice but basic and with no choices. That may not be to everybody's taste. Be sure to pack mosquito repellant!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Most of the staff were locals so it did benefit the community. I'm not convinced however that sufficient funds are put towards the restoration work. Given the low labour costs in that part of Romania I would have expected more.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

The holiday exceeded our expectations, the accommodation was good, as was the food, and the staff were wonderful.

review 15 Jun 2012

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Staying at Zalanpatak - such a lovely place, peaceful & remote. Superb wild flowers like nothing I've ever seen before.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Can't think of anything, we were so well looked after by Monika and her colleagues!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Fantastic, loved Transylvania and would like to go back.

review 22 Nov 2011

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Seeing brown bears at twilight in the Transylvanian Forest stands out, but the whole atmosphere of the estate is remarkable. We felt like house-guests rather than people staying in a hotel. They really couldn't have made us feel more welcome.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Look into flights to Cluj or Timisoara rather than Bucharest - the train to Brasov is painfully slow.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes, the community seemed very involved with the Estate and proud to have us visiting.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

It was one of the best holidays I've ever had.

review 23 Sep 2011

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Visiting first Miklósvár and than Zalánpatak gave us first a good insight to the historical heritage of the region, than in Zalánpatak we could merge into the peace of nature, feel as if liberated from the bonds of time. It was also ideal to our three dynamic kids, who experienced a very different lifestyle from the one they live in a modern metropolis; they enjoyed plenty of freedom in nature, and unlike at home nobody felt short of television, video or computer games, although there was none of these. Most memorable are the people we met, and the settings and circumstances we met them. Around the festive table with delicious homely food and good wine, some wood lit in the fireplace in the evenings we met new people from different parts of the world, and we got involved in interesting and pleasant talks, sometimes card- and boardgames. Our guides were very good, and the blacksmith in Miklósvár showed his craft to our boys in real life situation.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Get ready to leave behind television, and all kinds of electrical noise-pollution (in Miklósvár there is internet access though); Slow down, and relax; you will not get bored but refreshed without the usual nonstop bombardment of information - open yourselves to nature and to meet new people.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

It hopefully supported the local community through the work opportunity (cooking and guiding). Not sure I felt that we minimised our impact on the environment compared to a conventional holiday (mainly because we travelled by car on the frequent excursions)

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Very good and an excellent immersion into the Székely rich culture and traditions.

review 9 Sep 2011

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Transylvania completed exceeded our expectations as a holiday destination. The friendliness of the local people was unique, everywhere we went we were warmly welcomed and the enthusiasm to share their way of life was inspiring. It was a privilege to have an insight into the sustainable and organic way of life of these communities. The staff, especially Kothci, Monica and Garbor at Miklosvar and Zalanpatak should be commended on their knowledge and appreciation of this beautiful area, we were treated to some memorable experiences (yes Garbor - the trip to the church graveyard for bearwatching at night!). With 3 children (ages 8,10,12) its often difficult to find something for everyone but this trip delivered for both adults and children alike.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Expect an experience which you are not likely to experience from other holidays. Get to know the guides and get to know the culture and history of Transylvania.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Definitely. All the gorgeous food was lovely prepared using local ingredients. To eat vegetables from the onsite garden and drink wine from the region was a treat, everything was home-made even the yoghurt. All the staff were local people and the tours were to local tradesman, the flour mill, the charcoal makers, the shepherds, the farrier, the woodcarvers and the weavers. There were no packaged products or plastic bottles and waste was put back into the animals or compost.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Amazing, highly recommended, family friendly and a unique experience.

review 5 Jun 2011

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Meeting the most wonderful people :)

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Hire a 4x4 to get around in there are so many places to go and see but the roads are the worst I've EVER experienced!!!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes definitely. The locals all worked where we stayed and we bought some local carpentry products from a family that had been in the business for 15 generations!!!! Wonderful :)

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

It was an unmissable experience and would love to go back with the children and a 4x4 ;) in some years time.

review 20 Sep 2010

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Stunning country. Great wildlife, saw some new species of birds. Staff were excellent, friendly and very helpful. Loved the rustic feel of the guest house we were staying in. Just a great place to stay to get away from it all. The silence at night was something I had forgotten existed.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Bring your mosquito repellent if going in summer/autumn. Check your train ticket to ensure you were given ticket for the correct train time. We asked for 8.30 ticket to Brashov - were given ticket for 7.30 and had to pay more then to get the 8.30. Also worth getting 1st class ticket on the train.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes, I think so.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

10 out of 10. Exceeded my expectations.

review 19 Sep 2010

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

To stay in an authentic Transylvanian village and to experience their way of life first hand. Peasant farming with mobile phones! The countryside is beautiful, not corrupted by chemicals and intensive farming methods, it supports an amazing array of wildlife, both fauna and flora. Go before the inevitable change. Nothing was too much trouble for the staff - an enjoyable holiday.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Stay away from Luton airport and cheap flight airlines, the organisation at Luton on returning was appalling - sultry go-slow immigration staff and disgraceful organisation of large numbers gave an embarrassing first look of the UK. It took an hour to get through border control! Booking on-line was a hindrance; we arrived to find the 'on-line' checked in passengers took longer to process than those who checked-in at the airport. Taxis in Bucharest - there are some good ones but ENSURE you agree the price before you get into the cab - metered or not, we were subject of a dirty little con - one which failed because of our assertiveness, but beware.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes. This holiday provided both work and an extra income that must be welcomed by the local people who are not well off in our terms. This holiday has a lot lower impact on the environment than a lot we have been on. Trips were taken by local transport - genuine working horse-drawn carts- and the food was sourced locally.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Once at the estate excellent.

review 13 Aug 2010

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The entire experience was an absolute blast. The kindness of the staff - the peaceful location - the delicious food - the interesting history of the place- the wonderful antique furniture - the eccentric fellow travellers.... If you are after a different kind of holiday where you can both relax and have a few adventures this is it.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

A week stay is the perfect time to relax and take part in the great excursions available. The offer is varied and you can do both natural and cultural tours. Dont rush though. Its a place to stay a bit longer to absorb its unique atmosphere.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Absolutely. Misklovar is a poor village and local people find work on the estate and local shops also benefit of the odd tourist. It was also really interesting to visit local dying professions and learn from blacksmiths, textile weavers and furniture makers. A beautiful corner of the world.Regarding the environment many excursions are by horse cart so indeed less CO2 than a car...

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Outstanding. We decided to go there for our honeymoon and we had some funny reactions from friends before leaving home (the silly odd Dracula comment). After being there I can only recommend it. The communal dinners in the cellar are without doubt a highlight. Good wine, candles, fireplace on and a lots of intelligent conversations with interesting guests. Its like attending a different dinner party each night!

review 20 Feb 2010

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Sledging down the volcano rim to the frozen lake below!!! Finding bear tracks in the snow on the way to the cave of hibernating bats, seeing natural ice stalagmites.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Come prepared to really relax, this is a totally genuine, unforced environment.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

The entire approach is focused on a local economy, employing staff, utilizing produce, conserving architecture and sympathetically restoring and using it. The small size of groups minimised any impact on the habitats, a sensible use of resources evident in all approaches.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Excellent, we will certainly be going back, at perhaps a different time of year. The snow added a fantastic dimension, but we could certainly see how fine weather would make the whole environment so enjoyable in a different way.

review 2 Dec 2009

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

All of it! We particularly loved the nature tours and found our guide very knowledgeable. We explored and walked many miles in some beautiful areas, visiting amongst other things a sulphur cave, a cave with bats roosting and a river with fossils. It was great fun to have a picnic in a field by a stream in the middle of nowhere and start off with a small aperitif of homemade caraway brandy. We were there in October and the autumn colours and the weather were fantastic. It was our wedding anniversary and we were given a bottle of sparkling local wine which we drank by the side of the road watching the cows come home – magical.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Romania is a very poor country by UK standards so be prepared to see what we would call real poverty, with unsurfaced roads, water standpipes in the villages and crops being cut and collected by hand with no mechanisation in the area. Having said that we did find the satellite dishes attached to most houses in each village a bit of an anomaly. However it was explained to us by our guide that this area was originally part of Hungary and the population is mostly Hungarian speaking, this means therefore that if they want to watch TV and understand it they need receive Hungarian TV which is not broadcast locally by the Romanian system! We would recommend staying several days as if you book less you will regret it! We stayed 9 nights and could easily have stayed another week. If you need your TV and internet then this not for you!!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes it did. All the staff were fairly local and it seemed that there was a fair amount of job sharing so more families would have an income. All the fires/heating were woodfired reducing carbon emissions. A lot of our food was sourced locally reducing carbon footprints. Lots of local pickles/jams were made from garden produce and stored for serving over the next year. It is obvious that Count who owns the guesthouses is passionate about his country and is doing what he can to improve local living standards of his staff. We felt very humbled that the people who have very little - wages generally are very low, were prepared to look after us so well and with such kindness.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

We took an all inclusive package and found it to be very good value. The programme of excursions was excellent and we enjoyed both the cultural and nature tours. All meals were included with local wines and homemade brandies. In the 9 nights we were there not a meal was repeated and the food was always tasty, fresh, plentiful and local were possible. The staff were very friendly, helpful and always had a smile for us. The managers (there were two who split the week between them) and the local guides were very knowledgeable about their country and we found whatever questions we asked, an answer was always very informative. This is a holiday were you go home wishing you had had a few days more as it was so relaxing. We were lucky as the guesthouses were not very busy so we were able to do as we wanted on a daily basis.

review 5 Jan 2009

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

All memorable - a fantastic way (and place) to see in the New Year. A perfect place for winter scenery with trips to match, although the tobogganing and climb to bat cave may not be for the faint hearted! The choice of trips available gave us the opportunity to experience both the historic culture of the area and explore the scenery and wildlife.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Rooms are very warm and comfortable, but in winter temperatures can hit -23 or so, so take warm clothing and good footwear for outdoor activities. Be prepared for picnics at -10 but also to be very well wined and dined with excellent home cooked food. Relax and enjoy.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

All employees were local and food was generally locally produced. Wines & beers were also from the region. Transport was generally in comfortable vehicles, and occasionally by horse and cart. Rooms were heated in the traditional manner using wood from sustainable forests.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Excellent! A perfect retreat from the world - no TV or newspapers was a bonus. Trips were well organised and flexible to suit the needs/requests of the guests. Nothing was too much trouble - we did the full board package for a week over New Year and have never been so well looked after.

review 8 Oct 2009

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The day that Count Kalnoky took us on an unscheduled visit to the village of Zalanpatak to visit a house and other buildings being restored on behalf of the Prince of Wales. We were able to see a work in progress and see a village that is completely off the beaten track. We were treated more like friends visiting from out of town than paying guests.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Go with the expectation of getting a glimpse of life as it was many years ago, albeit with the benefit of modern conveniences and a wonderful staff. There's no television, no room service and no nightlife so, if those are on your must-have list, go somewhere else. For the rest of us, the lack of such things is what makes it so special (there is, however, a sauna).

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes, without a doubt.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

It was the highlight of a 2 1/2 week visit to Romania. .

review 5 Jul 2009

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The best day we spent on our holiday in Mickslovar was the day spent on the cart ride across the pastures above the village. We were very fortunate to get the cart to ourselves along with the guide and driver, making it a really special time. After a shaky start withy the horses being startled by one of the few tractors and negotiating an old battered car on the cart track out of the village, we were soon heading up onto the pastures. The flowers and meadows were beautiful; we saw skylarks swooping down to feed their young. We passed a shepherd tending the village flock before moving onto the higher pasture. The views were stunning, the peace and quiet unbeatable and the chance to breathe in the colour, sights and sound of this beautiful, unspoilt countryside was incredible. After a stop to rest the horses we moved on to the edge of the forest with only the herdsman and his cattle for company. Mihal lit a fire and cooked pork steaks to have with our picnic whilst we drank in the scenery and a little palinka! To be able to stand in the forest and hear beetles rustling under the leaf litter around our feet was incredible. A bone shaking drive off the high lands down to the shepherds for a lesson in cheesemaking and stories of pig stealing bears before descending through more glorious countryside to back to Mickslovar. Amazing.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Take the train from your entry airport, the journey is through stunning countryside and you get to meet the locals en route. Do take small bottles of water for the days out, this is about the only thing not provided and on the hot days we experienced, we would have been better hydrated, but keep in mind the lack of loo facilities and the alfresco/commando experiences this may result in!!!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Absolutely. From the wonderful ladies in the kitchen, to the craftsmen being employed for the rebuilding/conservation works, local people are benefiting from the input to the local economy. The local food is delicious and is mainly locally sourced or grown on site.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Fantastic! We were not really sure what to expect and have not had this type of holiday experience before but would not hesitate to go again. I would love to go back in a different season to see it in autumn colours or take a sleigh ride in the snow. The staff are wonderful, nothing is too much trouble and all took their responsibility to ensure you gained the most from your stay, very seriously. Thanks you to you all. We have returned 'better Europeans' after many evening discussing a whole host of topics, some serious, some not quite so, with guests from across Europe and further afield.

review 19 Apr 2009

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The accommodation was superb - comfortable and clean with original decor. Also, as vegetarians the food available at the guesthouse was lovely - something different and tasty each meal.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Take the organised trip they offer which visits a local working watermill, a woodcarving family who date back 16 generations and the village blacksmith - all things you wouldn't be able to do independently and utterly fascinating.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes. The staff were local and the trip we took enabled us to see aspects of village life in their actual setting whilst providing income for the people we visited.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Fantastic - relaxing and interesting, a great combination.

review 23 Jun 2008

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

We booked a 3 day stay at the estate of Count Kalnoky, Miclosoara, Transylvania through responsibletravel as part of our itinerary of a 2 week holiday to Transylvania. What a magical and beautiful place! Our accommodation was a room in a peasant blue Hansel and Gretal cottage in the garden of the main house, in the sleepy Szekler village of Miclosoara (there are other guesthouses 3 minutes walk from this site). All rooms are beautifully decorated with traditional and antique furniture and our room was like the three bears cottage inside - just gorgeous. All guests convene for breakfast at the main site and weather providing, eat under vines in the beautiful garden. There are excursions everyday and in the evenings there is a faux medieval cellar with roaring fire where guests dine on delicious freshly cooked, rustic food at a large dining table. The cook sources ingredients from the garden which makes the food extra special. The excursions include trips to see local culture, wood carvers, churches, a working mill - day excursions to Bran, Sighisoara etc, horse riding, and birdwatching with Count Kalnoky. In this lush landscape you can also easily take country walks alone and there is such pleasure in feeling that you have found the last bastion of unspoilt Europe - you are never far away from the knowledge that wolves and bears live in Transylvanian forests - wonderful.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

If you are being picked up in Brasov or being dropped off somewhere by the driver you will need to pay extra for this - I think 25euros. Other than that, everything is provided for you. You do have to mix with other guests for dinner so if you prefer being alone it wouldn't really suit. But we met some lovely people who made the stay more memorable. You don't have to do every excursion, you can take time out if you wish but you would miss so much as the guides are great and the locals benefit financially from their input to excursions.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

This holiday benefited the local people - it particularly highlighted the culture of the Szekler minority which was fascinating. We also learned much from seeing the traditional methods of farming which work in harmony with the environment and it is possible to go in a horse and cart for a picnic further minimising impact on the environment. It also brings tourists into the area and several of us used the two local bars, one of which we nick-named The Shed as it was literally that and what a fantastic experience - locals are very friendly and love dancing to traditional music!! Very cheap alcohol!

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

It was the most fantastic, relaxing and magical experience. The staff were friendly, helpful and welcoming and did everything they could to make your stay as perfect as possible. We would certainly go back again.

review 24 May 2008

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The guest house in Miclosoara, Romania is an absolute treasure. We travelled with two young children (ages 3 and 5) who were made to feel welcome and clearly were quietly catered for. Our day trips were a bird watching walk (the girls were able to return to the guest house after lunch for a nap) and a horse cart ride into woodland, including a barbeque lunch. Both trips were perfect for a slow moving family. We were very lucky and had fine weather and May was clearly perfect timing for many wild flowers. We really enjoyed the food and the girls loved that there were lots of different things on offer. We can't wait to return for another visit.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Give yourself extra time if driving - there is a lot of roadworks in the area at the moment. We would recommend that you consider taking some lightweight entertainment for children (stickers, card games, colouring books, etc...) - useful to have at hand at meal times, since there is space in the communal dining area for them to go to the side a play quietly. Some guests may not like small children - but there is absolutely no problem dividing the groups, since the wine cellar is effectively divided by the open fireplace.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Absolutely. Our guides lived in the area - and our impression was that working for the guest house was keeping them in the villages, instead of leaving for employment in the larger towns/ cities. We had hoped to buy some local crafts - unfortunately the stock was completely depleted, so we just took the view that at least local crafts are being supported and that the craftwork is clearly local and hand made. On both trips the guides (the Count himself in one case) made every effort to ensure that all litter was taken away from the picnic sites.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

This is far and away the best family holiday we've had in years. It was a fascinating corner of the world neither my husband or I had ever been to. We enjoyed learning about the area from our guides whilst having the pleasure of watching our children run wild about us in sunshine and fresh air!

review 12 Mar 2008

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

This was truly one of the most memorable holidays I have had. I was there with 8 friends for my 30th birthday. Each room we were staying in was wonderfully decorated with its own character, the food was amazing (all home made and organic), the staff we friendly and knowledgeable, and our excursions were perfect. I think the best moment for me was my birthday dinner in the wine cellar. The cook had made me a huge homemade chocolate cake and we danced the night away.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Be careful of what train you get on! There is an express train from Bucharest to Brasov, but there is also a slow “personal” train. The signs are not very clear at the train station and it is very easy to get the wrong train. This local train has a lot of character. The carriages are like something out of the Harry Potter films and it takes a very scenic route. The problem is that your train ride becomes 5 hours as opposed to 2.5 hours, and there is no food on the train! So stock up in case you get the wrong train! Be careful when you go shopping. All the shops/market places tend to increase prices when they see foreigners coming. Always ask your taxi drivers to put on the meter and don’t pay them any extra. They tend to ask you to pay for the return trip back to the city.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

I definitely feel as though this estate has made a positive difference for the local community. We were lucky enough to spend some time with the Count. He was telling us that this project employs approx 25 families from the local villages. This is a wonderful as the village has limited source of income. It also means that the locals don’t need to go to the cities for employment. This frees up more time for them to spend with their families. The staff are all from local areas. They knew all about local history and knew the best places to take you. This was great when going trekking in the woods or simply walking around the areas of interest. Everyone involved with this project appreciates the delicate balance of the local environment and culture and a lot is being done to ensure this is not disrupted.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

This holiday was truly one of the best I have been to. My friends and I we have travelled a huge amount, but this place still left us in awe. You feel as though you have stepped back in time and experiencing something very special. Coming from a very hectic city life this was the perfect place to come and exhale. We all came back home calmer and more content. You take some of the magic of this place with you. It’s a special area to visit. The staff are wonderful, the locals are friendly, the Count is very knowledgeable and passionate about what he does, the scenery is stunning, the food is delicious and the air is pure. If you are looking for a getaway from reality and need to recharge your batteries this is the place for you. There’s even a sauna on the estate! You just need to read the guest book to see what I mean… I recommend it to anyone who has a sense of adventure. You won’t be short of an interesting story to tell at a dinner party once you’ve been here.

review 12 Aug 2008

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The atmosphere of the venue the village and the area and seeing old farming methods using horse and cart. Relaxing and interesting good food and wine all in and the guides were fantastic.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Make sure you do not take the personal train from Bucharest (old carriages and indicated with a P on the platform info) as it takes 4.5 hours rather than 3 to Brasov. Make sure you use a metered taxi using the correct price in Bucharest- the price is marked beneath the door mirrors on the yellow cabs - most are below 2 liu ( about 50p) per km but some are 3.5 liu - make sure the meter is running and set at the same rate as on the door. Driving is generally manic throughout Romania - not a place for nervous passengers. Go now before its charm is lost.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes - the area needs investment and we provided much needed employment outside of subsistence farming.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Very good - already recommended it to others - it would have got 5 stars if it were not that the best holiday we had was last year in south America - perhaps your criteria for 5 stars is a bit tough.

review 4 Aug 2008

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The opportunity to experience village life in Transylvania was our favourite part of the holiday; the simple things like meeting the local beekeeper and blacksmith, sitting on the front bench with the locals waiting for the cows to come home and then watching the neighbour's cow being milked. My kids discovered where their morning honey and milk come from, where the wheat for their bread was grown, how the local blacksmith made horseshoes. We also spent a day on horse and cart travelling to the forest, picking field mushrooms, meeting the charcoal burners, then having a fire by a stream to cook our lunch. It really made us appreciate where things come from, the interconnectedness of life.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Pack for all sorts of weather and all sorts of conditions. It can get muddy and a bit rough. Do a bit of reading beforehand; it could deepen the experience of being in Romania, knowing a bit about the history. Prepare to relax and give in, and let the incredible hospitality and generosity of these people overtake you. Have an open mind and no (few) preconceptions.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

I think it definitely benefited the local people and those in the surrounding villages. My fear is that by visiting this rural idyll we might 'pave paradise and put up a parking lot'. I hope that we can bring the best of modernity, eg, care for the environment, desire to pick up rubbish and retain the forests, without all the worst excesses of consumerism, eg, big resorts, tv, 24 hour shopping.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

An excellent, interesting, enjoyable, stimulating, at times jaw-dropping experience. It is hard to believe this place is real, so ancient is the history and the way of life. It is a unique place with a unique history, with much for us to learn from and treasure. The natural environment is stunning and beautiful - clean, fresh, amazingly preserved. The people are kind, generous to a fault, hospitable and sometimes funny. Romania makes a very welcome addition to Europe. Go before it’s too late, but be careful not to tread too heavily.

review 22 Jul 2008

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

A swim in St Annes (volcanic) Lake was brilliant fun, which was followed up by a memorable if smelly stop off at the intriguing sulphur caves.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Although plenty of information is given on their website about the tours and activities on offer, do take the time to ready the detailed hiking section if any of your days out involve walking. Suitable hiking shoes are a must, don't forget your swimming costume and bug repellent! The kitchen staff are more than happy to accommodate dietary requirements, but make sure you tell them in advance.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

The Estate source all of their food and drink locally, and provide employment to the local community in Miklosvar.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Our trip to Transylvania was fantastic, we got the opportunity to get well off the beaten track and visit some magical places. The staff at the Estate were warm and friendly, the food wholesome, the tours and activities well organised and the rooms superb.

review 20 Jun 2008

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Hiking in the Piatra Craiului national park with László Demeter, a local biologist and guide, whose extensive knowledge of local flora and fauna greatly enhanced our expedition. The wildflower meadows around Miklósvar, are also a delight, as are the horse-drawn hay wagons that regularly drive along the local roads.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Think in advance about what you want the focus of your activities to be - relaxation, wildlife watching, hiking, cultural tourism, or a mixture - and communicate that to the Kalnoky estate when you book. There are certain scheduled activities (town visits, cart rides etc) that take place on each day of the week, but you can also arrange alternatives. I really wanted an 'outdoors' holiday, with some more adventurous hiking and wildlife tracking opportunities and I found the scheduled trips pleasant but a little bit tame and dull. They are perhaps better suited to families or older visitors than to the very active, independent holidaymaker. However, I discovered that it was possible to arrange more challenging hikes, bear-watching etc. (though you will obviously pay separately for extra activities). Another time, I'd specify my preferences clearly and arrange to have a hiking guide for several days.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes. It is clear that the Kalnoky estate has created employment opportunities and makes an effort to employ people from the local villages. By indirectly helping to maintain the small-scale farming lifestyle that keeps the landscape rich in biodiversity, it also has a positive environmental impact. However, I suggest that if you are serious about responsible travel, you go by train. I travelled from Edinburgh to Brasov by rail. It took two days - including a day in Vienna enjoying art galleries and sachertorte - and taking the sleeper was sociable and fun. They are about to build an airport in Brasov and I worry greatly about the environmental impact this will have.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Very good. The accommodation is charmingly furnished, the food is excellent, and having a communal dinner hour, in the fire lit cellar, creates a 'house party' atmosphere, with fellow guests chatting easily. Independent travellers might consider, however, combining a few chilled-out days in Miklósvar with some other stops in Romania that offer less tranquil pleasures.

review 2 Apr 2008

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The care and attention given by the people at the Count's estate and the majestic scenery of Transylvania.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Make sure you take advantage of the organised tours as they are very well conducted and good value for money - also to try and get out to do some walking as it is lovely to have a picnic by the side of the river in the heart of the Carpathian foothills. Bran castle, whilst interesting is very touristy; but make sure you see the Teutonic fort at Rasnov as it has been very sympathetically restored.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

There certainly seems to be a real sense of community involvement in the project and the people from the village are evidently pleased to be working with the Count's estate.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

A really nice place to go and relax. You don't have to lift a finger and treated excellently by all of the local people and staff. Certainly somewhere to recuperate the batteries and an absolute haven in the colder months if you are fond of log fires, mulled wine and sleigh rides!

review 24 Feb 2008

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

It was a fantastic experience all round! I am not sure whether I preferred the sledging on the volcanic lake or the horse and cart ride in the forest!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Don't eat cake before you go, there is plenty of it! and brace yourself for BRANDY good times.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Definitely.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Fantastic.

review 6 Nov 2007

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Everything was amazing. We travelled with parents in law and young children and the whole trip was catered for very well. We had to roll home after all the fabulous homemade local food from the legends in the kitchen and wine. We went on the horse and cart which was simple but unforgettable and also met the fabulous lady at the water mill and her sons as well as other great Seklar people. We will never forget it. Went start of November, and was great weather, starting to get cold but not uncomfortable with the right clothes. Apparently it had been snowing the week before. I recommend this to everyone as a retreat and a great experience for the whole family or romantic trip away.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

We flew into Tirgu Mures which is easier to get to than busy Bucharest although I think the flight path is changing. Book early as there can be a waiting list. May is supposed to be beautiful with the wildflowers. Don't eat for a week before or after the trip! You will be well looked after, and if coming internationally best to go the all inclusive (a bargain) and the additional pick ups and drop offs! Worth the money and your life - the Transylvanian roads were not made for new flash cars! Perfect pampering with adventure and realism thrown in for free! The local school does not have many resources, so if you can fit it in your luggage, pens, notebooks, art supplies are welcome and can be distributed by your guides

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Very encouraging! The guides are all local for the nature trips, having grown up in the forests. Some of the cultural guides come from neighbouring villages with good education on history and events of the country. The tours support many local people at the grass roots level and the kitchen uses local food and produce.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Unforgettable!

review 28 Oct 2007

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Very difficult - milking the cows or Bran castle in the snow or simply returning to the estate to have a wonderful meal with like minded people and coming home with email addresses for new friendships formed.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Keep a very open mind - and when a Romanian says it’s okay remember how easy life is in the UK - also watch out for some people who think children should not be on holiday in the school holidays.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Absolutely - we bought from locals - drank with locals and smiled with locals!

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Brilliant - this puts your own life into perspective and challenges you both mentally and physically!

review 29 Aug 2007

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Travelling by horse and cart across the fields and past wooded hills and small villages - so peaceful, it was like stepping back 200 years. Watching the cows come back from the fields every night by themselves, and asking to be let into their cowsheds!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

There was not always enough water to drink on the trips, so make sure you take your own as well. The food was wonderful. We are vegetarian, and the cooks produced lovely food with tasty fresh home-grown vegetables which we and our children enjoyed every day. Thanks very much to them for making the effort to make our food as good, if not better than the meat-eaters

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

It certainly it gave local people employment, and due to the small number of guests, I don't think it was having a detrimental effect on the village

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Really memorable and different, my 7 year old son didn't want to go home, and decided he would like to live in Miklosvar for ever!

review 22 Aug 2007

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

It is very difficult to choose as it was all memorable and exciting! Seeing the Seven Stairs Waterfalls, Bran Castle, visiting the local projects on the Count's estate, or simply seeing the cows walk themselves home at the end of the day...the list is endless!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Stay longer so you can experience a lot more! Get the train from Bucharest to Brasov - it was surprisingly easy and only a couple of hours. Be flexible - you're in a different environment and way of life. Things work at a slower pace, but you're on holiday so relax and enjoy! Learn a little Hungarian, even if it is just to say "thank you".

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Absolutely. Local people were employed throughout the whole organisation. From the very start of the building renovations (local builders, carpenters, local resources) through to using fresh local produce for cooking the guests' meals. The visit to the local watermill was an example of the Count's commitment, through their Conservation Trust, to encourage the community to preserve the local heritage.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

The holiday overall, was fantastic! Although we chose to go on activities every day, it was still relaxing. The pace of life was much slower, and the villagers were very friendly. In fact everyone was very welcoming and looked after us very well! The guides were very knowledgeable and happy to talk to us more about the local community and history. The cooks were flexible and made amazing and varied meals (including vegetarian meals). We chose the all inclusive package, which was excellent value for money, as it included all accommodation, meals and activities every day. We would thoroughly recommend this holiday and would certainly consider a return visit.

review 11 Jun 2007

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The contrast between modern agriculture and life in the UK to Transylvania. Over there it is true self sufficiency for survival and as far as carbon footprints go the people out there are like spacemen on the moon!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Make suggestions to the guides as to what you would like to do. I said I would love to milk a cow and our guide organised it for me before dinner!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes and no - yes because it injected a small amount of money into the community by employing some staff from the local area but mostly no as the guides came from far away as they spoke English and not enough money went to the village. I would have involved the village far more by letting them show us how they milked cows, sythed fields, drove their carts, made honey etc etc - a translator could have translated and money should have been given to the locals -it was not!! We travelled far away to places and did not get involved enough with our immediate community and consequently there were some villagers who did not like the tourists. My feeling was that the staff were paid peanuts as well and the bulk of the money went to the count. As far as the environment goes - the longer we can preserve this wonderful way of farming in Transylvania the better - more money needs to go the locals!!!!!!

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

We loved it - the countryside was amazing - the staff were brilliant - food lovely but it was not that responsible a travel as the money did not go to the locals as we had imagined.....

Read the operator's response here:

I am very happy the Wilson's enjoyed their stay in Miklosvar, and 4 stars is all we wish. It seems the only real concern is the question what we use the income for. We have 10 guests in average, and a total of 10 rooms. For these 10 guests, we employ 20 persons directly (all year round), and many more benefit from us indirectly. Our staff are payed wages above local average salaries. With the income generated by our tourist venture, we have renovated and furnished 5 houses now, solely by using local builders and mostly local, traditional construction material. We are also establishing a riding centre in the other village, again with locals, with a local breed of horses (Shagya Arabs) and again solely by means of the income from the guesthouses. We have been doing research and planning on both derelict manor houses, again with local labor and with the income of the guesthouses. I have been investing all I have into this venture, dedicated my own and my family's life to it, and feel the sentence 'the bulk of the money goes to the count' is a little unjust. Tibor Kalnoky

review 21 Jan 2007

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Above all the feeling of travelling back in time, to a land that hasn't been spoiled and that is as authentic as it was 50 years ago. I would mention the peaceful looking villages of Transylvania with their traditional horse-carts, the beauty of St. Ana lake, the view from the Rasnov fortress, or the spectacular Bran Castle. But if I have to choose a particular moment that truly marked our trip it would be the first night at the guesthouse, when my girlfriend and I were the only guests and had a lovely and delicious candle-light dinner just the two of us, with local wine, by the fireplace, and quiet music on the background . Nothing could beat that :)

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

I would advice travellers (if they're not too afraid of the Romanian driving style) to rent a car and explore part of Transylvania on their own. The tour guides were excellent, but the problem with organized tours is that you rush from one place to another, when there are certain places where you would like to stay for hours. Combining some tours with exploring on your own would be the ideal combination. And go now, when you can really see what Transylvania is like. Mass tourism could ruin the experience in the future.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

It is quite clear that part of our money went to the restoring of the hunting manor and that by staying there we helped at least the people working at the guesthouses to get additional income. How much we contributed to both things is something we don't know, but the project is clearly making a difference in the neighbourhood.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

I would rate the holiday with a ****. The staff at the guesthouses were great, very friendly and helpful, and the guesthouses were lovely, combining the cosiness of a true Transylvanian with all the level of comfort you would expect in an upscale place. Having dinner with the count was extremely interesting, as hearing from him the story of how he left his comfortable live in Western Europe to pursue his dream is very inspiring. Plus he's an excellent talker :)

review 5 May 2007

Before I go any further with my review, I have some advice. Prepare yourself to switch off and just "go with the flow" on this holiday, rather than have expectations in mind. It's so different from any other trip/tour that it's unwise to think you know what to expect!

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The holiday was memorable for its variety, rather than any specific item. We were climbing hills one day, then looking at fortified churches the next. Every day had something different, which was fun. We enjoyed the evening mealtimes, passing the night chatting to other travellers from around the world, and from all different walks of life. And the wine... The room we had was in the lower guesthouse, which was through the village. Great for getting to see the locals going about their daily lives - all were very pleasant and always said hello (I think!)

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

The tips I would give are: if you are vegetarian, make sure you remind the kitchen staff at the start of your holiday. Evening meals were fine for vegetarians, but breakfast and packed lunches were really limited, so if you are strict you should take some extra food to supplement these. Take a variety of clothing as the weather can be changeable. Good walking shoes/boots are a must, even for the cultural tours. We personally found not having any music a bit boring in the evenings prior to dinner (though lack of TV was good), so take some with you if you feel the same. Don't be put off by travelling in by train. This was definitely an experience! They don't speak English at the train station, but ask for a 1st class ticket (don't go second class) to Brasov and they will be able to understand that. You get some children begging at the station and on the train, but a firm "no" sees them off. Also, taxis - you will be approached in the airport and station by taxi drivers. Ignore these and go to the metered taxis outside - Fly at the airport and the yellow ones at the station.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

The food was sourced locally and the staff at the house were mostly local, so it probably benefited in this way.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

I would rate the holiday as *** very enjoyable.

review 4 Jun 2006

Thank you for the wonderful holiday we had in Transylvania. It fully lived up to our expectations. The staff were courteous and helpful, and were keen to accommodate individual needs, preferences and changes of plan. I travelled as a single parent with my son, and I would highly recommend this holiday for other single parents. There was plenty of opportunity to meet other people - in fact it was unavoidable, and one of the attractions of the holiday! Children were well catered for and included in all the activities, including the candlelit evening meal with wine. The excursions were varied and interesting and tailored to the group. This part of the world is stunningly beautiful - huge swathes of wild flowers, snow-capped mountains and romantic castles. The accommodation was beautiful. Our very large room [more like a little terraced house - we had our own front door, leading into the garden] was beautifully furnished and equipped with books and beer. Everyone, including the local pub landlady and shopkeepers had patience with our lack of Hungarian.

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The evening meals - a picturesque stroll through the village whilst watching the cows come home for milking, followed by delicious food and wine in interesting company.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Book the all inclusive package [which includes food, drink and excursions]. Be prepared for variable weather [hot sun, storms and rain during our week] and biting insects. Bring a packet of biscuits - there was more than enough food, but lunch was later than we were used to [usually mid-afternoon rather than noon] and a couple of times we were glad that we had some biscuits to share around! Try the local pub. Bring some local currency for tips, including some smaller denominations - I found it difficult to spend the larger currency notes I'd got from the bureau de change at the airport. Other than tips, you don't really need spending money. Beware the local unlabelled alcohol!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Local people were employed, and conservation was promoted.

review 8 May 2006

Brilliant experience. Accommodation very good and excellent hospitality. Was "non touristy" but so interesting. Were given information re: local history, culture, customs, wildlife and way of life. A truly new experience. Am keen to repeat.

review 28 Mar 2006

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Just arriving in the village and seeing our rooms were even more magical than we had imagined, and joining the rest of the guests for dinner in the candle-lit cellar with the open fires. Fabulous. The bear and wolf tracking trip was also excellent fun. We travelled for about 30 minutes by horse and cart through gorgeous countryside, before setting out on foot with our guide and the tracker. The tracker was extremely knowledgeable and obviously passionate about nature. We were very lucky and saw lots of wildlife. An extremely exciting and enjoyable day topped off with an excellent picnic.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Even if the weather is going to be warm, pack some long sleeved tops (that won't snag) if you plan to go on a tracking trip. If you go into the thicket, it's pretty dense and there are lots of brambles. Also, be very careful when getting taxis to and from the airport. There are some taxi firms that charge 4 or 5 times the normal rate and you will be hassled as soon as you get off the plane/train. Better to book through a reputable company (see travel guides). We were very careful from the airport but on the way back we were completely ripped off. We asked before getting in the taxi if the cost would be the same as we'd paid a few days earlier (about 15 Euros) but when we arrived we were charged over 60 Euros and couldn't do anything about it despite getting the airport police involved. Don't be put off making your own way to Transylvania, however, the train journey is great. We were on an old-fashioned train with private carriages - very romantic!.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes. The guesthouse employed all local people and income from the guests is going towards the renovation of the Hunting Lodge in the Village which will bring in more tourists and create more jobs. The main house and the guesthouses we stayed in were lovingly restored with exceptional craftsmanship - it was like stepping back in time. There is a feeling that tourism is encouraged but without compromising the local way of life. We were also able to learn about the turbulent history of the region.

4. Any other comments?

I'm a vegetarian who doesn't eat wheat or dairy. When I go on holiday, I expect to find it pretty difficult to eat well! I let the staff know when we booked about my dietary requirements and the evening we arrived I didn't even need to mention it. We were seated at the table and a separate dish arrived for me with a vegetarian wheat/dairy free alternative. It was such a joy not to have to make a fuss and the food was consistently delicious. The Count and his staff contributed enormously to our enjoyment on the trip. Nothing was too much trouble and they were also great fun. Special mention has to go to our guide who went above and beyond the call of duty to make our day trips enjoyable. An amazing holiday - I'd love to go back. Four and a half stars. And thanks for the great service that Responsible Travel provides - we recommend you continually and are now looking for the perfect destination for our honeymoon early next year.

review 4 Jan 2006

A superb place to go! People and surroundings like no other. Don't forget people are extremely poor in this region. There is no running water or sewage! Many unemployed and in desperate need of money. The count is a nice man - but doesn't really belong to holiday - just pops in to say hallo. Was rather ill most of the time - had to go to the local hospital - can thoroughly recommend that too! Bucharest airport is about 5 (five) hours by car! A long, long way! That was our second holiday from responsible travel. I'd say another hit! Thank you very much!

review 20 Jul 2006

The most memorable part was the first day of our stay in Miklosvar when we went on a day-long ramble along a river, through meadows and bushland outside the village. We saw many birds some of which are either extinct here in Switzerland or are not indigenous...golden orioles, bee eaters grey-backed shrikes and even little bitterns. There are also many storks and it was wonderful to be woken up in the mornings by their clacking. The meadows are full of all kinds of flowers, again, some of which we don't get here because of the over -cultivation of the soil. Our very friendly and knowledgeable guide on this ramble was Tibor Kalnoky. The 2 1/2 train ride from Bucharest to Brasov was cheap, clean and very comfortable. Guests need to be prepared to spend two to three hours on the guest house mini buses to get to and from the cultural sites and hiking destinations. Because the minor roads (especially the ones around Miklosvar) are severely potholed it is somewhat of an ordeal. From our point of view (we are vegetarians) the food is rather heavy, bland and over-cooked. Little or no provision was made to accommodate our needs apart from serving us the regular dishes minus the meat dishes. We had discussed this issue with the estate before we went there and were told that vegetarians are no problem. As it turned out, however, the health aspects of good eating, vegetarian or not, was not a concern for the kitchen staff...not even when we requested a fresh salad with dinner or fruit with breakfast. Our requests were either ignored or quickly forgotten. All the people working for the organisation apart from one Scottish guide are locals and all are very competent. The only impact on the environment was the use of the minibuses to get to the various sites. Also, westerners need to brace themselves as the Romanian drivers drive at breakneck speed (when there are no potholes) even through villages. The accommodation is very original and cosy. The guides and Tibor Kalnoky did everything to make our stay enjoyable. Above all, we learned a lot about the natural and political history of this fascinating and beautiful country by talking to the people we met through the organisation - something that would probably not have happened if we had toured Romania on our own. All in all I and my family would give this holiday a three star rating.

Read the operator's response here:

I enjoyed very much the company of these guests. The food topic was a little difficult, I must admit. We tried hard, but as it seems it was not hard enough. The food in this little Transylvanian village is basic and certainly not vegetarian, not speaking of vegan. Actually, the other guests in the same period overwhelmingly praised the food, as it reminded them of their childhood on the countryside. Perhaps I am wrong in expecting somehow more understanding for our own culture and level of development from those who wish to visit us. We prepared many dishes from vegetables and fruit. I do remember having brought myself apples from the cellars of the other manor, still fresh and tasty (something you would call 'biological') to add to the other fruit for desert, but the guests ignored the fruitbowl in front of them on the dinner table until I personally invited them to have some fruit and told the story of the apples. In general, when travelling to Romania, it is best to bring with you an open mind.

review 2 Jan 2006

The holiday was great and very relaxing for adults, everything was taken care of. I feel the children were a little bored and although I enjoyed the food, the lack of choice was difficult for the children and the eldest as he is vegetarian. The best part of the holiday was the walk to the caves. Apart from providing local jobs I am not sure how else this holiday helps the local community, there is the renovation of the castle and I am not sure if that benefits the whole community. People were very kind. I would advise families to take snacks and drinks for the children.

Read the operator's response here:

We are very much prepared to cater for vegetarians (although our local cooks find it strange: most of the people in the village are happy if they can get meat on their table more than twice a week...). I find Lena Basma's remark a little unfair, as they told the kitchen one day before departure (!) that one of their children is vegetarian. We should have known before arrival! Re. the point how our venture is benefiting the community, I believe the numerous articles on this behalf and the fact that we were mentioned within the 10 most ethical holidays worldwide speak for themselves: Not only are we the major employer in the village, with 20 families depending directly on us and many more indirectly; but also the restoration works are being carried out totally by local craftsmen with locally manually produced building materials like bricks, tiles, lime and wood. Also, our endeavours are starting to have exemplary character: more and more the people in our region rediscover the values of traditional architecture and environmental protection. On this behalf, the project of declaring the region around Miklosvar as a Specially Protected Area within the European Union's 'Nature 2000' programme has had success. Unfortunately for me, this means my colleague, the ornithologist Robert Zeitz, has to work full time on the implementation of this project. We will try to replace him as guide with another ornithologist this spring. Where Lena Basma is right, is the fact that we should implement more activities designed specially for children, especially for bad weather. This is what we shall immediately start doing!

review 23 Aug 2005

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

a) The breathtaking views from the Carpathian Mountains when trekking, b) When I nearly got turned off the train in the middle of the night because I hadn't got enough bits of paper (apparently I needed the one I'd been told I could throw away after completing the previous train journey, lucky the Romanian air hostess I happened to share a couchette with spoke perfect English/Romanian and liaised the problem)-memories of Communist Russia came back strongly then, c) How fantastic it was to be driven round the tourist sites by a fluent English-speaking guide who could explain Romanian life since Communism, how they'd got through the hardships of inflation mainly but still have way to go, and know all the history and geography and geology of our surroundings. d) Going down a salt mine and finding a badminton court the workers had persuaded the boss to let them build!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

a) Always have a hotel booked and be able to say the name well enough for a Romanian to understand it so you can get a taxi to it if all else fails. b) Keep all parts of all train tickets.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Largely yes, I stayed with a local woman down the road from the stables, used trains as much as possible, but had to use cars sometimes for long journeys to get where I wanted to go in the time I had.

4. Any other comments?

It was a stunning life-changing experience. I will always look at your site first when thinking of a holiday.

review 12 Dec 2005

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Most memorable day out was a horse and cart ride in the forest with lunch at a hermits hut - real experience meeting the true people of the area. Our guide was a gem and all the people that looked after us could not be faulted in the slightest.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Take a phrase book (Hungarian - as the villagers don't speak English)

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

I feel that tourism into the area will benefit the local people, however mass tourism would ruin the area - it was great because it was unspoilt.

4. Any other comments?

The holiday was fabulous and a step back in time

review 20 Apr 2005

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

One of them was having dinner with Count Kalnoky and all the other guests, drinking local wine and eating fantastic home cooked food learning about the family history and that of the village.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

The guides are fantastic, they offer to come with you on all the trips so take them up on their offer as you learn so much and it's a much richer experience when you're with them. Also, speak to the locals where possible, as they're ever so friendly and will insist on you coming into their homes for drinks if they consider you to be friends - a good way to truly see the village life!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Almost all of the food and drinks are locally grown or bought, and the Count is using local workers on the restoration of the castle. If guests get out and spend money in the local shops, as well as tipping the magnificent staff, it ensures that even more money goes straight to the community.

review 18 Jul 2005

The privilege of being able to stay in this part of rural Transylvania is to experience a way of life that ceased to exist elsewhere in Europe many years ago. Farming with a minimum of mechanisation – using manual and horse labour – retains a countryside full of wild flowers and butterflies that is a joy to see. The villagers of Miklosvar and nearby villages are very welcoming and happy to demonstrate their farming practices to visitors. Potential travellers should be aware that travelling times claimed by the guest house staff should be considered “Transylvania time”. The journey by car from Bucharest to Miklosvar is unlikely to be the three hours claimed but up to 4˝ depending on traffic conditions. The countryside walks may turn into hikes of untold duration, so double check if you are unfit or travelling with children. It is also worth double checking some of the claims in the brochure and website if you have specific aspirations. The count was out of the country for the duration of our visit so there was no chance to dine or chat with him. The “resident” ornithologist was away on a project during our visit denying us an anticipated opportunity to participate in bird ringing or even a specialised birding walk. If travelling with very young children, be aware that the guest houses will do their best to accommodate them but be prepared to be flexible. Also note that guest house vehicles do not have child car seats and the roads are long and bumpy. By opening the guest houses the count has brought additional employment to local people and to a large extent locally grown food is served for meals.

Read the operator's response here:

I myself cannot be around all the time. Nowhere on our website do I specify anything about my person and that I will be available to all guests. I usually try to meet everybody and have dinner with them at least once. But again, it is not my person that is meant to be the attraction but the place (the village and estate)! Robert Zeitz is one of the leading ornithologists in Romania specialized in Raptors. Unfortunately, this spring he had to do a monitoring of breeding populations of Lesser Spotted Eagle in the whole country. Although we are deeply involved in such projects, this is the first time when Robert was missing for more than 2 weeks. He found a replacement in the person of the leading herpetologist of the country who was supposed to do his job. It is true you can't replace an ornithologist by a herpetologist (reptiles and amphibians), even if he dives into ponds to catch watersnakes and yellow bellied toads to present to our guests, so mea culpa. I will check whether Ludick's did specify their ornithological (and bird ringing) requests beforehand, in which case we should have specified the absence of our ornithologist. Bird ringing is not meant as an activity for our guests, but is one of our environmental projects with strict rules and timetables. Our website stipulates that our guests are welcome to take part, which is true but is also linked to the timetable of our projects. We will publish this on our website this fall.

review 15 Jan 2004

A trip without equal, so it is very difficult for me to be brief in my comments because there are so many great things to say. The level of genuine hospitality continued non-stop until the very last minute I was there. The food and the wine are truly superb, as are the interesting guests. Not speaking the local languages is absolutely no barrier to enjoyment whatsoever, because they are set up so well for the English-speaking guest. While an incredibly pastoral setting, there is well more than enough to see and do. The preservation of the local culture, picturesque beauty of the natural wildlife and the Carpathians, continuation of tradition and historic integrity of the medieval cities, villages, and church fortresses are all without equal anywhere in Europe. The history seems so real there, because it is so well preserved, and so well illuminated by the expert guides, guesthouses, and village. It was amazing to see how well thought out everything was; they truly think of everything. The vehicles are clean, new and well maintained-and indeed environmentally responsible, as they are equipped for excellent fuel economy. The guests are really interesting, because let's face it, nobody goes to Transylvania for vacation who is likely to be dull, boring or stiff. I made some great friends there, who I have since visited in Budapest. In addition to the "Agatha Christie Novel" analogy, equally valid to me, is a "Transylvanian Seinfeld Show" motif, like the popular American comedy series--the coluorful staff, Count, village and never-ending cast of eccentric and/or celebrity guests. It was an amazing amount of fun, indeed! One of the highlights of the trip, was the opportunity to have dinner with our host. Count ("call me Tibor") Kalnoky is passionate about what he is doing, and you get the unqualified sense that he truly cares deeply about the village, its citizens, and the preservation of the area's cultural and historic character--of which he has an encyclopaedic knowledge, and which he is eager to share--in a frequently humorous, entertaining way. As I visited the village pub (where, as an American, I was made to feel entirely welcome) and thus had a good deal of interaction with the villagers, I can say that they all have a great deal of respect for the Count and for everything that he and his staff are doing. They, also, appreciate the careful way the guesthouses are managed--to build on, rather than disrupt, the traditional lifestyle patterns of the villagers. The guesthouses are authentic to the last detail, and yet the organization is able to seamlessly integrate every aspect of Western expectation in cleanliness and comfort--all without compromising any of the authenticity of the experience. This authenticity extends itself into the heart and soul of the village, and in the interaction of the Guesthouse operation as an organic element in perfect symbiosis with the village, and as a major contributor to its well-being. I was most impressed by the Count's commitment to utilizing only locally produced products and locally based staff. By doing so, he contributes to the employment of many villagers, and through careful management, not only preserves the essential integrity of the traditional village lifestyle, but actually enhances it substantially. In sum, I must tell you that all--every one--of my expectations were well exceeded. This accommodation represents a unique way for western travellers to actually become a neighbour to the villagers, and to participate in the lifestyle of the village. As some of my ancestors, including one of my Grandparents, came to the U.S. from this region, this experience--to revisit their lifestyle; to see and to be a part of how they lived 100 years ago-- was absolutely priceless. Indeed, I can truthfully say that it was the most personally satisfying vacation I have ever taken--and I certainly intend to return soon!
Please note: Although mentioned as a highlight in these holiday reviews, we cannot guarantee the Count's presence during your stay. Responsibletravel.com

review 26 Jul 2004

Briefly it's a fabulous holiday for nature and countryside lovers. We had some fantastic guides to tell us about the flora, fauna, history, culture. I had no idea how rich Transylvania is in history and the fortified churches are fantastic. You get very well looked after, good food, lots of wine. Dinner is round a communal table so you have to be prepared to contribute and it's bad luck if you don't like the other people there. The village seems to sit in a world that vanished 250 years ago - the local pub has tree stumps in the garden to sit on and horse drawn carts wait outside to carry their owners home at the end of the evening so it's light on nightlife! For us the highlights were the wild flowers, birds, meadows, farming the way it was done 100 years ago (people use scythes to cut the grass for hay), the fortified churches, towns that have stepped out of an illustration to Grimms fairy tales and the very hospitable people. Only caveat was a hiking trip set up with the local travel agent recommended by the Count's organisation who charged us a lot for a distinctly no frills 3 day hike in the Carpathian Mountains. Beautiful country, but I'd advise others to check and check again that they are getting what they expect, particularly with regard to the quality of the guides (e.g. English speaking, know their stuff - ours didn't).

review 26 Apr 2004

We had a fantastic time last year at the Count's place in Romania. No wolves, but wonderfully unspoilt village and accommodation.

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