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Luxury in the countryside

The thousands of possibilities for great countryside getaways in Hungary include some top-end options.

Fancy inside and out: Hertelendy Kastély hotel.

As the warm spring weather sets in, hard-working Budapesters turn their thoughts to the countryside, where Hungary boasts a wealth of excellent weekend getaways. Those ready to splash out for luxury can enjoy some of the country’s finer dining and lush spa treatments, in stunning rural settings. The following are some of fancier options around the Hungarian countryside. 

Chateau Visz

Lake Balaton is a popular summer destination but the nearby Somogy hills that surround the Chateau Visz hotel provide a great getaway any time of the year. In operation for nearly a decade, this fully refurbished chateau once served as the residence of a count by the name of Jankovich. Along with a host of luxuries, the hotel boasts the Chateau Visz restaurant, which is consistently rated one of the best in the country.

Given the expansive green property surrounding the hotel, spring is the ideal time to visit, when you can witness the garden come into full bloom.

The hotel is quite remote, which is all the more reason to never leave the premises since there is plenty to see and do within the property. Explore the 3.5 km private trail, indulge in a spa treatment or sample the restaurant’s renowned seven-course meals in the glass-enclosed dining room.

The menu, which changes monthly, is spiced up by the hotel’s own herb garden and inventive dishes range from French to Mediterranean to Hungarian, all beautifully presented. Befitting its five-star surroundings, the service is also top notch.

Post dinner digestifs can be enjoyed in the hotel’s reading room where a roaring fire provides the perfect backdrop for sampling from a fine selection of whisky and cognac and immersing in a good book.

The hotel’s modern spa facilities feature a small gym, a spring-fed counter-flow pool, Finnish and infrared saunas, a steam room and a lounge area, as well as an on-staff masseuse.

If you’d rather not drive, pickup service can be arranged from the nearby Hévíz-Balaton airport at Sármellék.

(chateau-visz.com)

Hertelendy Kastély

The Hertelendy Kastély hotel has all sorts of luxurious features from a private airstrip and helicopter landing pad to its own thermal spring, a luxurious spa and an exceptional restaurant, all of which can facilitate a perfect, self-contained getaway.

In 2009, it became the first Hungarian hotel to join the prestigious Relais & Chateaux club. Since then, however, the investor has revised the hotel’s business strategy and those wishing to bed down here may only do so if they book a minimum of five rooms. All the more reason to gather the troops; you’re likely to have the whole place to yourself as a result.

Located on the plains of Somogy county, about 40 km south of the western tip of Lake Balaton, the sumptuous villa was built in the 1920s by the Hertelendy family in the once thriving community of Kozmapuszta and was, at one point, a farmer’s cooperative during the communist period. It was converted to its current state about ten years ago through a HUF 5 billion investment.

The hotel’s Albizzia restaurant has gained a reputation for its modernized Hungarian cuisine, fuelled by locally sourced ingredients such as game and freshwater fish. Indulge in a multiple-course menu, served in an elegant dining room that opens onto a stunning garden terrace. Spectacular desserts will be your reward for surviving the multiple courses.

Along with the restaurant, the spa is one of the hotel’s strong suits and features a whirlpool bath, saunas and steam bath as well as an outdoor pool fed by a thermal spring adjacent to an authentic Finnish wood-burning sauna. It’s far away enough from the action though to provide a bit of privacy.

Other activities include horseback riding, tennis, skeet shooting and hunting as well as a scenic trip in one of the hotel’s small passenger planes.

The hotel has 14 luxury rooms and suites and a separate hunters’ lodge with six apartments that can accommodate canine family members.

(hotel-hertelendy.hu)

Soaking in Hévíz

The gorgeous outdoor thermal lake of Hévíz is warm enough to swim in all year round, and this natural wonder has turned that area, just west of Lake Balaton, into a magnet for tourists seeking wellness packages. The fancier offerings in the eponymous town of Hévíz include the five-star Lotus Therme (lotustherme.accenthotels.com) and the “four-star superior” Hotel Europa Fit (www.europafit.hu). Both offer such extensive sauna and swimming facilities that you may never feel the need to venture out toward the lake that made this town a destination to begin with. Both also tempt guests to stay in-house with fancy dining offered through inclusive meal packages.

Other attractive countryside hotels

Although more humble than the aforementioned hotels, the country getaways listed below have all the necessary features for a wonderful weekend away.

The Káli Art Inn located in the romantic rolling hills of the Káli Basin in Köveskál, provides simple elegance away from the busy shores of Lake Balaton. This rustic countryside hotel also features one of the region’s best restaurants, stocked with some of the best locally produced wines. (kaliartinn.hu)

Although Villa Tolnay is a modern facility it has a charm reminiscent of another era. The service provided by the family that produces the wines of the same name is outstanding, as is much of their wine. The restaurant offers full breakfasts and cold plates and the sunny terrace with a view onto the rolling vineyards is a great place to soak in the bucolic atmosphere of the Káli Basin. (villatolnay.hu)

The Kosbor Panzió is a simple country affair next to Hungary’s border with Austria in the quiet town of Magyarszombatfa. At the inn’s center is a lovely garden full of large old trees and for those keen on thermal waters, the nearby spring and strand at Alsomarác can provide more family-centric activities. (kosborpanzio.hu)