I came across this gorgeous little collection of eco cottages whilst scouring the internet for somewhere to disappear to for a rather overdue week long summer break with Mr T. Unless you are really pushing the boat out, I find it rare that you turn up in a foreign country and feel instantly relaxed and comfortable. This place was an exception. Not only was it incredible value (about 80 Euros a night for a cottage) but it was stunningly beautiful and nothing was too much trouble for our hosts, Karcsi and Ibi. Every last detail had been carefully thought through by the cottages’ owners Catherine and Christopher Dickens, who over the last few years have lovingly created this adorable cluster of cottages – some renovated, some built from scratch – on a small private vineyard estate on the edge of the Vertes National Park just West of Budapest in Fejer county – an area famous for its wine, horses and scenery, an hour from Lake Balaton.
Here, building regulations state that in these protected areas you can build on only 3% of the land you buy, so each of the cottages is surrounded by a 97% hinterland of beautiful lavender bushes, lawns and fruit trees. We stayed in the Eco Haz, a simple, cosy and light filled studio with it’s own little kitchen at one end, a sofa in the middle and bed at the other which runs on almost 100% solar powered energy from the cottage’s roof top panels. Here we spent seven blissful days pottering around, cooking incessantly (mostly outdoors on the barbecue), reading, napping and playing with the family’s two CRAZY but very cute dogs who practically moved in with us.
We were thoroughly spoilt every day of our stay: On our first morning we discovered a breakfast basket outside our door filled with freshly baked bread, fruit from the surrounding plum, pear and apple trees, eggs, bacon and fruit compote all beautifully wrapped up in linens. Then at various points a baked apple cake would be left or a plate of plump vine grown tomatoes and basil, a jar of homemade raspberry jam, apricot compote, local wine, lavender soaps and shampoo produced from the many litres of virgin lavender oil produced by the estate….
There are boardgames in the rooms (and a log fire for slightly chillier times) lavender soap and shampoos to use in the outdoor rain shower, bikes to hire, hammocks to laze in, a lovely pool further up the hill. There were also walking maps in each cottage, so James and I took ourselves off and a bottle of wine, two small dogs and an epic picnic to explore the surrounding countryside. It was utterly perfect.