On a Crisp autumn morning in October, Laveena and I drove 70 Kms North East of Prague, to Mcely, a beautiful picturesque central Bohemian village in the Czech Republic, with a tiny population of 300. The colours of fall, had cast an umbrella of red and gold, upon many of the narrow village roads and our mood was gloriously happy and mellow as our car drove through several light drizzles of leaves, which delicately fell to the ground, reminding us of the magnificent season we had chosen to be in the Czech Republic.
Less than an hour later, we entered through the gates of Chateau Mcely, a 17th century restored castle, located on the edge of the St. George Forest. A filmy veil of a soft dull mist hung around the castle, adding to the enchantment of this mystical spa hotel and forest retreat. As we walked through the doors of the Chateau, feelings of European nobility entered our hearts. We were handed a cool damp fragrant towel and a refreshing herbal drink in a champagne glass, which helped revitalize us after our car ride from Prague. We were then shown to our very grand suite. Our room had a stunning view of the carefully manicured castle lawns. Nature had carpeted the cool ground with a sheet of randomly scattered caramel coloured leaves. We stepped out for a walk on the five-hectare private grounds that surrounds the chateau. On offer for all guests, is an outdoor whirlpool and sauna and at the reception we were told to take a dip in the natural lake which has been made into a swimming pool. As we explored the vast grounds, a gardner who was hard at work, asked if we would be interested in mowing the grass or weed the flower beds. Since we rarely get an opportunity to do this back home in India, we said we would love to do both. We pulled on a pair of gloves and wellies and got right down to work and enjoyed every bit of our time, gardening. We had a quick shower on our return to the castle and then we spent time exploring the main building. The Baroqueness of the interiors was evident in the palatial finish, with high ceilings, chandeliers, fine tapestry, silk curtains and rich parquet flooring. This elegant accommodation was princely to say the least and we looked forward to our planned three day stay at the castle.
Chateau Mcely, we were told was home to the famous aristocratic Thurn Taxis family of Regensburg, Germany, inventors of the European postal system. Following the Velvet revolution, the family decided against restoring their home and over the years it was weathered down to a state of ruin and dilapidation. That was until Inez Cusumano, a commercial property developer from Slovenia, purchased it from the Czech Government and helped restitute it to its current grandeur. The castle was finally opened to guests in September of 2006 and today Chateau Mcely is a place where guests can enjoy luxury and a meticulous finish with an arresting sense of a soft rural charm.
After yet another enjoyable walk around the grand property, we returned to the Chateau to lunch at the Piano Nobile Restaurant, which in 2015 was recognised as the fifth-best restaurant in the Czech Republic according to Maurer’s Grand Restaurant Guide. We were handed our menus by the shift leader Zdenek Soufek, who was friendly and enthusiastic to serve and please us. He had many recommendations and from the elaborate menu, Laveena chose the seasonal salad of the day to start with and the ‘Label Rouge’ Salmon with quinoa, peas, cucumber and Kikkoman soy sauce. I opted for the Veal tongue with onion marmalade, horseradish espuma and Dandelion honey as a starter and for my mains, I asked for the Cod with White beans, shallots and concasse. Zdenek shared with us some trivia about the Chateau saying that the American writer, Mark Twain had stayed at Chateau Mcely when he had lost his family fortune. It was at Mcely that Twain turned his life around and saw better times thereon. I could have sworn that the food at Chateau Mcely had something to do with Twain’s improved luck, but they didn’t have the young Executive chef Honza Štěrba, at the time. We were lucky to try the young genius’s culinary craft and were not surprised to learn that Maurer’s Grand Restaurant Guide had awarded the Piano Noble at the Chateau as the ‘Best Restaurant in the Czech Republic in 2014’. Zdenek proudly said that at Chateau Mcely’s kitchen, homegrown herbs, were used to garnish all meals and that the meat and fish used in their dishes, were smoked in the chateau smokehouse. We were also told that if we wanted to improve our cooking skills, classes were held on the chateau’s patio with views of the surrounding countryside and these were conducted by Chef Sterba, using only the finest of ingredients.
Later in the evening, we had a massage scheduled at the Mcely Bouquet Spa. As we made our way to the couples suite, the lady accompanying us said that the Mcely Bouquet line of natural and organic skincare products were developed by the owner of the Chateau, Inéz Cusumano. It was her intention to share the herbal and healing heritage of this aristocratic residence, with the Chateau’s guests. On offer were oils, bath salts, masks, serums and balms, many of which we purchased, not only because they smelt and felt great, but because they were also free from any chemical modifications. Manufactured at the castle laboratory, the Mcely Bouquet line of spa products are available only at the Chateau, at their E-Shop and at luxury hotels across the Czech Republic including the Kempinski and the Mandarin Oriental.
We were welcomed by our therapists, Jarmila and Ilona, into the Honey Suite and were asked to choose a fragrance from one of their natural skin product lines. We were offered a Nine Flowers Balm, a Camomile Baby Oil, a Daisy Body Oil, but Laveena and I both wanted to be massaged in white chocolate and over the next 60 minutes, the divine smelling balm we chose, was gently worked into our bodies, by two of the Chateau’s most skilled therapists. Our spa experience at the Honey Suite was divine and after thanking the very talented young ladies, Ilona and Jarmila, we walked back to the castle feeling young and rejuvenated.
The palatial Chateau Mcely has won many an accolade including The Best Hotel in the Czech Republic by Dolce Vita Magazine, the Best Hotel Project in the country by the Czech Real Estate Board and has been voted as The World’s Leading Green Hotel by the World Travel Awards. Our stay at the Chateau was truly memorable as we got a little taste of the old world aristocratic charm of Czech royalty. In fact on our late autumn evening walk, on our second night at Mcely, Laveena said that the ambience at the Chateau was so romantic, she would recommend it to friends who were on the look-out for an ideal wedding destination. Just before we returned to our room to turn in for the night, we visited the basement at the chateau. Here at the 17th century Alchemist Club wine cellar, we both enjoyed a delicious night cap, recommended by Zdenek.
For breakfast the next morning, before our made to order eggs and freshly squeezed orange juice was served to us, we were treated to some caviar and champagne. We were scheduled to leave for Cesky Krumlov later that afternoon so I didn’t have more than a single glass, but enjoyed the treat thoroughly. We were reluctant to leave this Bohemian jewel and wished we could have stayed much longer. At the Chateau, their vision statement reads – “We make a difference in the world by making a difference in yours”. Well they certainly succeeded in making a difference in our lives, as we felt more relaxed and younger than we did before we arrived at this blissful manor. We were wined, massaged and dined and above all we were happy to have experienced the royal pampering at this gorgeous piece of Czech Paradise, a paradise we would love to return to someday soon.