Weekend Getaway from Budapest: Kreinbacher Birtok Winery in Somlo

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Bunny discovers a hidden gem in the Kreinbacher Birtok winery and hotel in the Somlo wine region just north of Lake Balaton in Hungary.

Somlo Wine Region - a Perfect Weekend Getaway from Budapest

Bunny recently spent a summer weekend in Somlo, Hungary’s smallest wine region, in the country’s north-west corner. In the heart of the Somlo wine region lies the Somlo hill, which is actually a long-extinct volcano.

Most of the wine in the region is produced on the slopes of the Somlo hill. The wines are distinct to the region, almost exclusively whites and roses, acidic and high in alcohol. But Somlo is definitely off the tourist radar. It is not even mentioned in the all-knowing Lonely Planet guides!

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Somlo vineyards

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Delicious grapes

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Somlo hill

Kreinbacher Birtok

Bunny originally discovered Somlo thanks to an interesting-looking winery hotel, Kreinbacher Birtok, she found online when searching for weekend getaways from Budapest. Bunny liked the industrial chic look of the place and decided it was worth the 2-hour drive from Budapest to go and try it out.

First Impressions

The region is relatively flat so the Somlo hill stands out and is visible from quite far as you approach it by car. Kreinbacher Birtok was easy to find, just next to the Somlo hill, off highway number 8.

The winery hotel is actually quite a big complex, but just as beautiful as the pictures online. The startling architecture reminded Bunny of science fiction movies (which she hates with passion) but it all seems to work beautifully in the case of Kreinbacher Birtok.

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“This could be in Austria”, said Mr. Bunny on arrival. That was a big compliment coming from him.

Dinner

Bunny rolled in around 7pm and the dinner on arrival did not start promisingly. Bunny is always wary when traveling in the countryside of meat-loving nations. They tend to not have great options for vegetarians. So she had called Kreinbacher Birtok in advance of her visit to make sure that the hotel restaurant would be able cater for vegetarians. A friendly girl on the other side of the line assured her that this was the case and Bunny, relieved and happy, booked dinner for both nights at the hotel restaurant.

When the Bunnies sat down at the restaurant and she reminded the restaurant staff of the request, no-one seemed to have a clue what she was talking about. The staff was very apologetic but not exactly resourceful in the situation as the menu did not include a single vegetarian item. Hungry Bunny started to panic at this point.

All was not lost though! Bunny and Mr. Bunny carefully read through the menu and picked all the vegetarian garnishes from every dish on the menu and asked the kitchen to produce a plateful of those. This request was duly fulfilled and Bunny ended up having quite a nice dinner after all. For the following night, however, she requested that the chef kindly think of something vegetarian for the Bunnies.

And indeed he did! On the second night, Bunny and Mr. Bunny enjoyed a fantastic three-course vegetarian meal the chef had put together just for them. Perfect! The food was really tasty, well-presented and plentiful. Full scores from the Bunnies on the second try!

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Delicious food at Kreinbacher Birtok

Breakfast

The breakfast at Kreinbacher Birtok is served from 7:30 to 10am, in the same airy and gorgeous space as dinner. Guests at the hotel were a very late rising crowd as Bunny was the first one at breakfast at 9m. Others slowly followed but the area never got crowded. Bunny has noted that Hungarians (most guests were local) are generally not early risers, perhaps because of all the good wine and palinka available?

The offering at breakfast, perhaps not surprisingly, was a meaty affair. Even the scrambled eggs had meat in them. Other hot dishes included bacon and three different types of sausages. Oh well.

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Breakfast at Kreinbacher Birtok

Luckily, there were plenty of vegetarian options too: boiled eggs, lots of different cheese and bread and plenty of raw fruit and vegetables. The coffee was lovely and served with a smile. There was definitely a language barrier with some of the service staff but if you are kind and flexible (just like Bunny!) it's not a big deal. However, she did have to forgo her usual morning treat, “decaffeinated cappuccino”, as nobody seemed to understand what it meant.

Architecture and Design

As mentioned earlier, the lovely architecture was the first thing that attracted Bunny to Kreinbacher Birtok. The building complex looks completely out of place in the middle of Hungarian countryside but that is precisely why it is so striking.

Lots of attention to detail and nice touches can be found throughout the hotel. Mr. Bunny was sold on details such as a sci-fi glowing sphere in the middle of a field with no apparent purpose other than aesthetics. He also noted the concrete ceilings in the rooms, large cogs under the restaurant dinner tables and unique candle holders made of upside down wine glasses stuffed with gravity defying corks. Cool stuff.

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Room Details

Kreinbacher Birtok has 15 rooms: normal rooms, suites and apartments. Bunny stayed in the smallest type (normal) and it was lovely! She didn’t have a chance to see any of the other rooms but she was totally satisfied with hers. It was cool and spacious, full of interesting details. The decor had an industrial feeling that worked very well with such odd pieces as an old-fashioned black telephone receiver and rustic weather-beaten lamps.

The bathroom was beautiful. Bunny gives a special thumbs-up to the lovely wood-scented toiletries by Terre (birch tree, says Bunny but Mr. Bunny disputes this). Bunny liked them so much that she bought some to bring home as well.

The room also had a semi-private terrace (shared with the room next door) which was a nice place to sit down and sip wine in the evening.

Winery Tour

You can reserve a tour of the facilities at Kreinbacher Birtok. These are organised both in English and Hungarian. Unfortunately, Bunny missed her opportunity as the English-language tour coincided with her hiking efforts but she thinks it is a good enough a reason to return to Somlo one day and have a peek behind the scenes and taste those excellent wines again.

What Could Be Improved

Bunny has a couple of ideas to further improve the experience at Kreinbacher Birtok. The first one is easy to execute, the second one requires a bit more capital…

Firstly, the hotel should include some chocolate in the minibar! It would go especially lovely with the excellent wine available in the minibar. The bottles in the minibar included a white and rose, both under a very reasonable 10 euros, and a lovely Brut which would set you back almost 30 euros.

Bunny enjoyed nice moments on the sunny terrace of the room, sipping the white wine from the mini bar but very much craved some chocolate to go with it. As there are no grocery shops nearby, she had to endure the sweet craving until it was time for dessert at dinner. Not necessarily a bad thing but offering some artisanal chocolate would go a long way.

"Add chocolate to the minibar!"

Secondly, introducing a lovely stainless steel swimming pool in the grounds of the hotel would make Kreinbacher Birtok just the perfect summer destination! Bunny can already imagine herself lying by the pool, basking in the glorious sunlight, with a glass of cool white wine at hand…

What to Do in Somlo

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Somlo is perfect hiking ground! There is a pleasant and well-marked hiking trail up the Somlo hill, starting directly at the hotel. It starts off winding among small vineyards, quaint little houses and lovely gardens and fruit trees where it immediately feels like a world away from the buzz and noise of Budapest.

The hiking path also takes you through some wooded areas until you reach a meadow and soon after a picnic plateau (with tables and chairs). There is a small observation tower (entry under 2 euros) where you can buy refreshing cold drinks and postcards. But the hike is not over yet: From the picnic area, you can continue your rambling in different directions.

Bunny chose the Somlo castle, a16th century castle ruin that was a short downhill hike from the picnic area. It was well-worth the detour. Bunny enjoyed exploring the ruins in total peace and quiet before returning to the hotel following the same route back.

Bunny took three hours in total for the hike, with lots of breaks for water and taking pictures. The hike’s level of difficulty is from easy to moderate. There are only a few steep ascents but the path is well-maintained and marked.

Top Tip

If you want to eat and drink cheap and cheerfully - for example after the hike to Somlo Castle - right beside the hotel complex is the local restaurant Hegykapu Etterem. A small (.3L) beer or wine sets you back under 1 euro. Their menu even has a Vegetarian Dishes section, although that includes a tuna and salmon dish. That tells you a lot about Hungary's love affair with meat! But the broccoli tops and generous plate of wedgies satisfied the hungry Bunnies just nicely after the hike.

Somlo in a Nutshell

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Bunny is only starting to explore Hungary outside Budapest but she is already convinced that Somlo makes a perfect summer weekend getaway from the capital. It is an easy drive (past some of the largest sunflower fields Bunny has ever seen) that brings you from the congested big city to the fresh air of quaint countryside. As Somlo is not (yet) well-known, it is a place where you can escape the crowds of Lake Balaton and enjoy unspoilt Hungarian countryside at its best, with a glass of excellent wine in hand.

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