Palaga Lodge is part of Maramures Lodges, traditional wooden houses in Romania restored with all comforts and turned into unique holiday homes on a 100ha property.
There are five houses in total and we got them from different villages in the area several years ago, deconstructed them and rebuilt them on this piece of land.
How would you describe Meceanu Lodge in a nutshell?
Maramures Lodges are traditional wooden houses in Romania that have been restored with all comforts and turned into unique holiday homes on a large 100ha property facing a monastery. They are highlights of Maramures architecture. There are five houses in total and we got them from different villages in the area several years ago, deconstructed them and rebuilt them on this piece of land.
They are absolutely traditional and we love them because they are masterpieces of Maramures woodworking crafts. They are also unique because of their size and one of them is very special because it is L-shaped and this type of house is very rare. They are between 150 and 300 years old.
What was your inspiration to acquire these country lodges, deconstruct them and and turn them into holiday rentals?
When we started, we had no plan. It was only passion. Nowadays, old houses are demolished or burned down in order to make room for modern houses. The traditional village centres are disappearing, so we wanted to help to protect this traditional type of building.
Later on, we devised the plan to provide nice holiday accommodation for guests. We did this for two reasons. One was to share the houses with others, and the second was to have some help with reducing our costs.
Please tell us a little bit about the interior of the holiday homes.
My wife is an architect and a carpenter, so she is in charge of the design of the buildings. We discussed for a long time what to do, wondering whether to be more traditional or modern. My wife and I both love French antique furniture and paintings, so we purchased things in the northwest of France and Paris and combined them with traditional furniture from our village Botiza.
For example, in Maris Lodge we also have an original desk from Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor, the famous British travel writer. I was always inspired by his many travels and when there was an auction of some of his belongings, I bought his desk and some original books.
To you personally, what is so special about these traditional Romanian country lodges?
Maramures Lodges have a special atmosphere that immediately draws you in. It’s like lifting off to another time. When I’m here for three or four days, it’s a bit like time travel, with a simpler, slower pace. It’s like living 50 years in the past.
What about the region of Maramures in Romania made you fall in love with it?
The smells, the hospitality of the people, the rich landscape and the animals. It took me back to my childhood, and it does that for others too.
Since we are so close to nature, we sometimes have wolves and bears, among other animals, near the houses. When you are lucky, you may get a chance to meet them.
Romania isn’t the obvious choice for a holiday...
You cannot compare it with an island like Majorca or Jamaica or something like that. When you want to go to the sea, you need to go to the sea. When you want to ski, you need to ski. But when you’re looking for an outstanding place that’s different, not mainstream, our place provides solitude and peace off the beaten track.
People from all parts of Europe come here, people who are looking for that something special and who want to live with nature. It’s an amazing place.
Prince Charles even has invested in two houses in this region of Maramures. We hope he will visit us soon!
What’s the biggest reward for you about the renting out these holiday homes?
The most impressive experience for me was to work together with the Romanian craftsmen. It’s another way to work — more emotional and in a good mood.
We have a lot of friends here and a very good relation to the people of the village. We had a party with friends to celebrate the completion of the three houses last year, and every year we celebrate with friends and people of the village when we finish cutting the grass. This has already become a tradition. We and all of our holiday guests appreciate the barbecue, traditional music, dance and a big fire in the night.
300 years old, Meceanu Lodge is the oldest cottage which we completely restored and adapted to today’s standards. It sits not far from Palaga Lodge and from its position on the hill, it offers beautiful views of the local abbey.
The cottage has 140 sqm and is furnished with many antiques and paintings pf Romanian artists, it has two bedrooms for up to 4 people and offers plenty of space for for a relaxing and cozy stay.
The holiday rentals are equipped with full kitchens and bathrooms, traditional heating on the upper floor and a wood stove on the first floor. However, there’s no television or music because we wanted to create a calm and quiet place.
Five years ago, I read a very fine advertisement that read: Today, I will do something special — nothing. That’s often also the philosophy of our holiday guests. You can visit the traditional houses and villages here, you can hunt, fish, go horseback riding. There are a lot of old monasteries and old cities to visit. There’s an old train here that’s very famous; you can do a lot of hiking in the countryside, have a fire at night, sit back and read. You can do all those things, or nothing at all.
The holiday homes are near the village of Botiza. They are situated on a hill in a 100ha property, similar to a park. The area is calm and relaxed and has a very fine view. The nearest town is Sighet Marmatiei, which is about 40 kilometres away. The next bigger city about 80 km away is Baia Mare with 150,000 inhabitants and the closest airport. Another airport is in Cluj, which is about 170 km away.
The best time for a holiday in Maramures is from May to September. Winter is okay too, but it’s very, very cold. Last winter we had -32 degrees and one and a half meters of snow. But if you like that, for example to celebrate Christmas, it’s great.
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