Luxurious sunset with Balaton panorama, against the backdrop of sun collectors in the hillside? Local flavours with fine dining twists? Wine in the glass and in the pool? Heavy metal, flying pieces of ice and orgasms in the sauna? We have found it all at the Zenit Hotel Balatonban in Vonyarcvashegy.
Vonyarcvashegy by the northwestern corner of Lake Balaton is one of the tranquil lakeside resorts in the proximity of nature. In recent years, the popularity of this settlement between the southern slopes of the Keszthely Hills, the award-winning beaches and the only water ski and wakeboard course of the western part of the Lake has been steadily increasing and not simply on account the home-like vibes and the vicinity of Keszthely and Hévíz. The reason is found in an exclusive spot with a Dead Sea salt room, sauna orgasms and a world-class bistro.
The so-called sauna orgasm can only be triggered by a sauna master performing a swift, choreographed row of movements with a towel or a flag. 'In the hot air of the sauna, this [row of movements] can elicit a pleasant shiver and goose bumps - experiencing it juts once can make yo an addict,' explains Zoli Szabó, who has fallen in love the same way and went on to become an internationally acknowledged sauna master.
We met Zoli at Zenit Hotel Balaton, where he always comes up with fresh sauna session ideas. The romantic-meditational session, for instance, is perfect if you're just familiarising with the genre, but expert sauna-goers will even go as far as requesting the wild, heavy metal, ice cube-throwing act, which is conducted by the sauna master dressed authentically in a black, skull-print attire to a dedicated music compilation.
Zoli's advices to the newbies of the sauna genre are the following:
Zoli's frenetic, sauna orgasm triggering programs are only one reason for the popularity of the wellness department on the second floor of the hotel in the hillside. There is a direct view of Lake Balaton through the huge glass panels and from the outdoor jacuzzi, which is an ace worthy of a royal flush.
The large swimming pool and the kids' pool with a slide are surrounded by extra services (e.g. steam room, Kneipp pool, ice- and infrasauna). Immerse yourself (literally) into wine thanks to the so-called wine tub and be a worthy follower of the hedonists of ancient Greece by enjoying a glass of champagne in the meantime.
About a year ago, Bock Bistro Balaton was opened in the neoclassical building of Festetics Helikon Taverna, so after the Bock restaurants in Budapest, now the Hungarian-style world-class dishes have a home in Vonyarcvashegy as well. The menu consists mostly of meaty dishes, with classics, like the Beef cheek retro (3500 HUF) or the "Tasziló" steak (sous vide sirloin, mustard onion ragout on bread, Lyon onions and mashed potatoes - 7100 Ft).
Thankfully, vegetarians are not banished - they are served risotto with coconut milk and melon, sprinkled with almond. There is a separate menu for those with lactose and gluten intolerance, which is a real gem to come across by Lake Balaton.
With these, you can have a glass (or more) of the Bock wines from the Villány wine region, or the best wineries of Lake Balaton. In case you forgot your WSET diploma, a sommelier will assist you in picking one from the seemingly endless list, while you enjoy the view of the Keszthely bay from one of the most romantic terraces of the Balaton.
The Bock Bistro is only a few metres away from the Panorama restaurant of Zenit Hotel Balaton, where hotel guests can enjoy smorgasbord breakfasts and dinners. The offer is generous, the bread is fresh and crunchy, and omelettes are prepared in harmony of your wishes in the open-view kitchen.
When we visited, it was Bock Gourmet weekend, so dinner was served from the Bock Bistro menu and by Bock Bistro's kitchen. If you don't want to dedicate a lunch to test Bock cooking, time your visit to one of the Gourmet weekends, since otherwise the price of the accommodation does not include dining at the Bock Bistro.
The spacious cellar of Helikon Taverna, dug into the hillside was once owned by the noble Festetics family; today, it houses an oenology and gastronomy exhibition, complete with 3D experience. The underground wine museum heated by grand, wood-fuelled tile stoves engages adults with over 100 types of wine and kids with LEGO models.
In addition to wine, you'll get a glimpse into the life of the Festetics family as well; there are themed wine tastings around the rustic wooden tables in the weekends; and the sommelier will help you navigate the interactive exhibition about local viticulture and oenology as well as among the bottles of the wine selection.
The Zenit Hotel Balaton wellness hotel sitting modestly on the hillside above the Taverna offers real treats in addition to Instagram-ready sunsets. The intimate atmosphere permeates both the wellness department and the sun-lit rooms, the majority of which have a view of the Lake. This costs you something from 23 900 HUF to 44 990 per standard room per night, depending on the season:
The refined and modern interior was created using simple, natural materials and colours. The door of the bathroom, for instance, is made of matte glass, so the "view" through it is as mysterious as the dim nooks and crannies of the sauna. Almost all rooms have a balcony, but there are also interconnecting family garden rooms as well.
Don't worry if the right pillow is essential to your night: the hotel has a pillow menu; plus, there are also anti-allergy and obstacle-free rooms.
There is something going on at Zenit every weekend: it might be a gourmet weekend, a beer dinner, Valentine's specials with couple's massage, or Women's Day special with a music and yoga psycho fitness program. It's guaranteed you'll be recharging in harmony and experience a gorgeous Balaton sunset (with the optional glass of wine in hand).