These articles were published in the Spectacular Slovakia travel guide, published annually by The Slovak Spectator since 1996. The latest editions can be obtained from our online shop.


By James Thomson

    To the manor born: Chateau Béla
 To the manor born: Chateau Béla
 Photos by James Thomson

If evidence were needed - and still, occasionally, it is - that Slovakia is becoming part of the European mainstream, one now needs to look no further than the otherwise rather humble environs of Štúrovo, in southern Slovakia.

This is not the first place you would think of looking for five-star luxury. But the private owners of Chateau Béla, who clearly do not want for funds, have restored what was, at the turn of the century, little more than a ruin into one of the most sumptuous hotels in central Europe. The seventeenth-century manor house is big: for once, the 'chateau' description really is appropriate. With its own wine cellars, extensive landscaped grounds with views across the Danube valley to Hungary, a heated outdoor swimming pool, a cinema, and plans for a golf course, there is plenty to amuse guests.

But what marks it out is the amount of thought that has gone into the reconstruction. Most of the furniture and fittings, for instance, are antique and have obviously been chosen carefully. There is barely a brand in sight.

Of course, luxury hotels stand or fall on the quality of the service they provide to their guests. Chateau Béla's general manager admits that the hotel’s decision to employ almost entirely local staff has meant a lot of training has had to be done, and more is to come. But if they come close to matching the quality of the building it will make for a remarkable hotel.

These articles and related information were published in Spectacular Slovakia 2009, which you can obtain from our online shop.

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