there’s a place about an hour northeast of prague in the middle of central bohemia where there stands a hill that has had both christian and pagan significance for hundreds and hundreds of years. finally a chateau was built on this spot, overlooking the valley below and a family lived there until 1948. it sat unoccupied until the early-aughts when a czech woman bought the decrepit chateau and fixed it up, meanwhile happening to fall in love with an american man who had entrepreneurial visions of what this space could one day become.
today that place is called chateau mcely, and it’s exactly where i spent a few completely relaxing days last weekend for my birthday.
we all have our dream places. i found out about this particular spot above the tiny one-road village of mcely (near nymburk) a couple years ago, and how it was a luxurious forest retreat spa hotel. it struck me somehow. one day, i told myself, i would go stay here for my birthday. unfortunately it didn’t happen on my milestone 30th a couple years ago, nor could it last year with our savings for the united states, but in march, as soon as i found out i didn’t have to work the day before my birthday (rendering the weekend a four day holiday) i jumped and booking a room.
last sunday, we took a couple trains and a bus that dropped us off literally in front of the drive to the chateau, and upon strolling up, the expansive front garden took my breath away. i was finally here – after years of imagining!
i spent my evenings dining at their restaurants and booking some time at the sauna, which coupled with a sundown swim in the natural pool and the whirlpool was a memorable spring experience. also watching očko, because hotel.
during the days after delicious breakfasts and my own pot of tea, we wandered the foresty grounds and gardens – so many places to look, to hide, to peek at – as well as a walk through the neighboring st. george wood and i collected whatever plants i could identify, which is not too many at this point but i’m hopeful. there were so many little special reading or sitting nooks all over the grounds and i tried my hardest to utilize as many as possible!
i was struck by a) how isolated the chateau was, b) how dang quiet it was (in a really beautiful way) as it was truly in the middle of the czech countryside, but also c) how truly relaxed i felt. i noticed other guests with babies, small children, dogs… all welcome at chateau mcely with a smile. this somehow really put me at ease. although definitely a splurge, i have rarely stayed at another hotel in my life that had the same premium on quality of service. there is nothing in the czech republic that can compare to the level of service i experienced! it was beyond.
i read a book on a chaise lounge, lavender lemonade in hand. i unwound on pillows and blankets placed under umbrellas on the back lawn. swimming in the natural pool in early may? what a great start to this summer season! especially with the beautiful views of the valley and bright yellow field of rapeseed below.
my friend julie texted me at one point and was all like, “what does the inside look like? does it look like downton abbey?” well, a little bit! the formal dining room, like the rest of the chateau was impeccably furnished.
finally it was time to head back to south bohemia (our own little paradise, really!) and i was perfectly prepared to leave “empty handed” but i suppose i got caught up in the grandeur spirit of it all and left with a couple things from the mcely bouquet shop. the owner of the chateau (who i mentioned above) has a great interest in herbalism and created her own line of cosmetics and oils, which you can smell diffusing in places all over the chateau. i mean, it was my birthday and all. this frugal lady is trying to live a little… sometimes.
…and among all the ferraris and lamborghinis parked outside…. we walked back on foot to our humble bus stop and were whisked away back to prague and then further south to commence “real life” again. rarely do i feel that a short weekend stay somewhere can feel so long, but when you get to truly relax, see something new, and be inspired, i think it has a way of happening.
here’s to travel dreams come true!
(in no way is this a sponsored post – just sharing my thoughts about my birthday escape!)