Where to stay in Stiavnicke vrchy – Salamandra Resort Banska Stiavnica
More and more I try to travel around Slovakia in the past few years. I knew every corner of my home country when I was a kid but recently I prefered to fly as far as I could and somehow started to forget about the natural beauty we have in this little big country.
So with my family we began with a new habit – holidays somewhere in Slovakia every summer.
This summer of 2014 I took my mum and her partner to the 4 star hotel Salamandra Resort Banska Stiavnica which is actually located some 10 km from Banska Stiavnica. Well, to be honest with you a friend of mine recommended it to me. I never heard of it, but then, I am not an expert when it comes to accommodation around my country either. But to my biggest surprise, each time I told a friend or a family member where we were headed, they all knew the hotel. Some go there biking, some teach snowboarding there, some stayed there and some just heard of it. It meant just one thing to me – my excitement started to grow :)
The day I was picked up in Trencin where my best male friend lives and where the short road trip started for me, I was the most exhausted, not in a good mood, sleepy and with a sprained ankle. I’d spent the previous 5 crazy days in Bratislava running from one meeting to another (I had days with 9 meetings per day!) And then 3 days at Bazant Pohoda Festival in Trencin.
Let me tell you, walking 10 km per day with a sprained ankle is fun NOT! At times I wanted to cry and scream all my pain to the world. Yet, I had to smile freezing my left ankle off with ice cubes at every meeting.
Plus, I almost didn’t sleep for those 8 days as not only I was super busy trying to squeeze in all the people I wanted to talk to, and all the concerts I wanted to see, but I also got a weird skin rash for 2 days when my body was all swollen and I just felt the need to scratch myself out of my own skin.
Yes, these were my days before I visited Salamandra Resort near Banska Stiavnica. For some reason my intuition proved right once again when I planned 5 days at the resort with my family just after that craziness.
What I loved about Salamandra resort:
- location – a few people would get surprised right now as many complain that the location is not the best, but to be honest I was extremely happy about where the hotel is situated. It was my first time to the area and I needed not to do much and just enjoy. There’s a lot of things to do close by if you want to, such as visiting the mines the area is famous for, or the so called silver town Banska Stiavnica which is the oldest mining town in Slovakia and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993 located just 10 km from the resort. We visited Banska Stiavnica 3 times while there, twice during the day and then also once at night time when a friend of mine who loves it over there wanted to make sure I explored the best sights :)
- wellness – I am a spa freak, you all know that already. There’s a number of things that make me relax the most ever and I could get a few of them right in the Salamandra Resort. Wellness is definitely one of them and after the busiest days ever I just wanted to swim, spend time in the sauna and drop myself on a sunbed. Salamandra Resort Wellness offers a good swimming pool with a few cool massage jets and countercurrent flow, 2 jacuzzis with different water temperature, a Finnish and a steam sauna. The time flew by so quickly when we spent a few solid hours in the spa every single day, usually 3 – 5 hours.
- lakes and nature – the hotel is situated right next to the Horny Hodrussky tajch, one of the many lakes man-made for the mining industry centuries ago. We walked around the tajch a few times a day, always after dinner to burn some calories. I also swam in the lake and sunbathed for an hour on its shore every day after breakfast. There’s pretty grass around the hotel too so barefoot walking was on my daily schedule too. It was also pretty cool to watch hundreds of little frogs, dragonflies, butterflies and birds all around. The frogs reminded me of my time with the wildlife in Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica where beautiful toads were waiting for me outside of my room every day. And, I also practiced some yoga by the lake…
- gym and trampoline – after 7 years I went to a gym! Could you believe it? We also played table tennis there twice, nice to get in shape after all the overeating :D I do admit I enjoyed jumping on the trampoline like never as my ankle got better and it just felt as if I learned to walk and jump just for the first time.
- cuisine – Salamandra Resort is famous for its gastronomic experience. When I was booking my stay, I made sure they knew about my mostly raw vegan diet so I had plenty of fruit and fresh salads during my stay. But the cuisine was so delicious, I started tasting everything from my mum’s plate too and then got a few meals that I would not normally eat as they were not raw. Two famous chefs you can see also in Markiza (a Slovak TV channel) Lubomir Herko and Rastislav Fech cook there and I my finger licking was the proof of their mastery. They even got me with chocolate desserts. OMG get me back to the gym!
- fast wifi – worked very well all around my room, restaurant, even a bit outside of the hotel and in the middle of the wellness area too. I know I wanted to switch off and go digital detox but needed to do at least some important things online. And provoking friends with spa photos right from the spa never hurts either :)
- comfy beds – I could sleep like a baby while there. Very comfy beds, blankets and pillows.
- design – frankly, the hotel from the outside looks a bit weird, but once you step inside you will get amazed by the beautiful modern layout with traditional design. There’s the famous Hodrusska cipka – Hodrusa’s lace pattern hand-painted all around the hotel, at the reception and hallway walls and also needlework can be found hanging on the room walls and on the pillows. Very unique! (Hodrusa-Hamre is a little village next to the resort and it’s where the wedding veil of the Queen Elizabeth II was made by 10 Slovak lace makers.) Salamandra Resort is also decorated with really cool hand-made wire signs, such as toilet signs, Wellness/Bar/Restaurant/Gym signs.
- pleasant staff – everyone was smiling and very helpful which is, unfortunately, not always normal in Slovakia. I had a great laughs with the waiter Janka, director Michal and the chef Rastislav. I personally prefer a very open and honest treatment, jokes, smiles and informal chatting about everyday life than a strict formal behaviour. So thumbs up from me for that.
- rooms and toiletries – I had everything I needed in my room, from a fridge, to wifi, a table, TV (not that I watch it but many people do), a great shower, sage toiletries. We actually had a family room, let’s say 2 rooms connected with a door we could lock and unlock whenever we wanted, very handy.
- other activities – you can rent a bike, read books/magazines in the lobby, hop on a cableway Friday – Sunday, play squash, take a boat around the lake or go on a hike. In winter the area becomes full of ski and snowboard lovers.
- breakfast magazine – printed papers waiting for us at the table every morning – with weather forecast, other information, nice quotes, suggestions for trips and things to do
There’s not that many places around the world where anyone can visit. I am sure all kinds of people, from single travelers, to families, couples, sports enthusiasts or wellness lovers would enjoy Salamandra Resort Banska Stiavnica.
*** It took me 4 hours to write this post.