Bernstein Castle perches above the rolling countryside of southern Burgenland. If it wasn’t for this pastoral backdrop, the tall stone walls could seem intimidating.
Once you make it past the gate, lord of the castle Alexander Almásy greets you with a tour of your temporary home. His family has owned the hotel inside the 9th century stronghold for 4 generations. They try to keep the rooms and grounds as close to their original condition as possible: there are few traces of modern life behind Bernstein’s walls.
The Almásys want you to experience Bernstein Castle the way its historic tenants did. Each room is furnished only with antiques, like Biedermeier nightstands or wardrobes that have been used by counts and kings. The Baroque tiled stoves look like they belong in a museum, but they are not decorative - they keep castle guests warm.
Mixed in with local artifacts are precious Venetian mirrors, oriental rugs, and an array of oil paintings. These are souvenirs of the Almásys' own rich family history of travel and exploration. Grandfather Lazslo Almásy who discovered the "Cave of Swimmers" in Egypt, famously served as inspiration for the title character in “The English Patient.“ In the faithfully restored family chambers you find heirlooms and knickknacks collected over some 100 years.
Your historical experience extends beyond the collection of antiques in the uniquely decorated rooms. Every night, dinner is served at the original knight's table. Only candles provide light as guests enjoy a dish prepared with locally sourced products by castle mistress Andrea. The lack of modern distractions makes eating an old world, communal experience. Being in the moment, as easy as it was 1100 years ago.