11 guest houses at Lake Balaton, with 11 great stories: the owner sits down to play the piano for the guests at one of them, while one was built from basalt stones, another one organizes picnics on sailboats, and yet another provides a glimpse into the everyday life of a winery. The only unpleasant side effect of nights spent at these spots is that you might not want to go home after all the peace and the quality wines – you just want more of these.
This old press house on Szent György-hegy (Szent György Hill) has been standing there and watching Lake Balaton for more than 200 years. It was built from huge basalt stones and lean oak beams, and it’s decorated with star-shaped designs: it’s a beautiful sight. A couple can hide from the eyes of world inside, and the only things peeping from afar are the ruins of Szigliget Castle. The thick stone walls keep it cool during summer, while the iron fireplace warms it all up in winter. This is probably as authentic as it gets. If you’d like to toast for this you can do it with a glass of Bencze-wine for example, with which you’ll be greeted when you stay for at least two nights (for 25,000 forints for two people). Dogs also come here regularly (the fee is 4,000 HUF), and they are getting along well with Csete, the local male vizsla.
It took the work of a whole family and the wonderful Badacsony wine region to create the restaurant and pension next to the cellar. The guest house has nine, tastefully decorated modern, warm rooms, all of them named after a grape variety. We can choose wines from the almost 130 years old Fata Winery. A single room costs 13,500 forints, while a double room is available for 17,500 forints, and you can choose to have full or half board as well. If you have a dog or a pet you can take them with you for 4,000 forints.
Borbély Family Winery with its recently renovated guesthouse is one of the top-notch hidden spots of Badacsony – here we can drink wines that are pretty characteristic even for Badacsony. The friendly cottage is in the middle of the vineyards that can be found on the left hand side of the road from Badacsonytomaj to Káptalantóti (about 1.5 kilometers away from the Basalt church). We can taste the award-winning Borbély wines on the terrace of this building – some of them are actually only available here. The four rooms are named after four buttes (they cost 6,500 forints for a night per person), and besides the brand new bathrooms, they have home cooked meals, and a playground for children; the center of the winery is also here, so we can even get a glimpse of the work they do here every day.
If it wasn’t a wonderful place to rest, we could even say that a few nights spent here are like an experiment. Can you light a cook stove? How about a wooden bucket-shower? Can you deal with not having Wi-Fi? When he created the solar paneled guesthouses in Szőlőskislak (30-40,000 forints for a house per night), Géza Légli had Rousseau’s “back to nature” principle in mind. We won’t turn into a Robinson Crusoe, but we definitely can get closer to nature as we’re surrounded by vineyards. The place is dog friendly, and they don’t even ask for an extra fee.
Standing on the top of Kishegy in Balatonlelle, this Mediterranean, tow-storey villa feels like home immediately, especially since it’s stylishly and tastefully furnished with ancient pieces and modern bits as well. There aren’t any neighbors, but there’s silence, landscape, Lake Balaton, and a magnificent view from the terrace, perfect for watching the sunrise. The three apartments greet us with double beds, fully equipped kitchens, two common rooms, and chilled Konyári-wines. Since the house is only rentable as a whole, we can feel like we have our own house at Lake Balaton. They bring the breakfast up from Balatonlelle, but we can also do our own shopping as part of a morning walk. The house can be ours for 100,000 forints for a night, and then the price is 70,000 forints for a day starting from the second day. The place is dog friendly, as long as Buddy and Fluffy leave the furniture alone.
First-class champagnes are paired with first-class design and hospitality at Kreinbacher Winery. We don’t believe in perfection, but the buildings and interiors designed by Dezső Ekler might change our minds. Metal meets wood – every inch of the complex is incredibly modern and natural, urban and rustic at the same time. The 16, vintage-looking rooms were inspired by, what else, champagne making. The prices change according to each reservation, but they start at 17,950 forints per person for a night with breakfast included.
Kristinus Wine Estate is like a small universe of wine. Located at the end of the main street of Kéthely in Somogy County, the complex has a cool restaurant, an open-air stage, conference halls, and ten Scandinavian-style double rooms besides the winery and the cellar. Everything is bright and natural. The big hit of the place is the cinema, where we can sip the winery's items while watching a movie. They organize programs like golfing, wine tasting, sightseeing rides, and we can also get to know the surrounding area with their shuttle service. The rooms cost 30,000 forints for a night for two people during the high season – the price includes breakfast as well; the price is 26,000 forints per person if you stay for at least two nights. If you want to bring your dog along, you have to pay another 4,500 forints.
The luxury of the wine hotel might remind some people of a French château and some of the set of a South American soap opera. A crystal clear pool, a magnificent view of the Káli Basin, an open, Provencal kitchen, bright and spacious rooms with reading corners, and a silence that is only broken by the chirping of birds or the singing/piano playing of Mihály Liszkay. This is an idyllic place, a luxurious one: we would probably buy one like this if we won the lottery. Until then, we can stay in one of the eight double rooms if we want to enjoy the luxury. Prices start at 31,000 forints for a night per person, but the largest suite can cost around 100,000 forints during the high season. If we feel like renting the whole estate, including the services of a private chef, we can do so – but we have to book a minimum of seven nights.
Zsuzsanna Veres is a born hostess and her cheerfulness and enthusiasm are contagious: be careful, or the desire to make wines might possess you, and the next thing you know is that you’re ready to buy land in Nivegy Valley. Built in the folk style of the Balaton Uplands, this old cellar was turned into a guesthouse where nothing disturbs our peace. However, if we feel like going out, Zsuzsa organizes wine tastings and sail boat picnics, and we can go on hikes or biking tours as well. Many friends and local producers stop by, so those who love buzzing will love Tagyon. A large room for two costs 39,000 forints a day. And they are a dog-friendly spot, of course.
Two houses, both more than two hundred years old, were transformed into simple, rustic guest houses by winemaker Váli Péter and his wife, Bogi. The houses have their own indoor and outdoor kitchens, and they can fit larger families, or groups of 8-10 people as well – we can eat, drink, climb the belfry observation tower, or just let off the steam in nature as no one will be bothered by that in this hidden part of nature above Badacsonyörs. A double room costs 14,000 forints for a night during high season. Well-trained indoor dogs are welcome.
Philipp Oser, an IT expert and passionate wine collector from Switzerland, fell in love with the wine region of Badacsony and the former villa of renowned Hungarian actress, Klári Tolnay. His winery – which is managed by László Nagy, a winemaker often mentioned within the industry – is also named after the actress, and the villa of Csobánc Hill, located 10 kilometers away from Lake Balaton, has five, tastefully decorated rooms (12,000 HUF/person/night). The gentle, southern slopes of Csobánc are a bit further away from the lake, which means this land is a lot quieter and it’s almost untouched. Klári Tolnay used to read, do needle work, and play with her daughter here, while she forgot all about work – this place have that effect.