Relax and recharge in a magical manor in Estonia

Relax and recharge in a magical manor in Estonia

North of Latvia and across the Baltic Sea from Finland, lies a series of over 2,000 Estonian islands, where rich folk culture, rustic cuisine and rugged natural scenes await. While the mainland leads in public sector technology and digital inclusion, on the outlying islands time stands still. On balmy Muhu, Estonia’s third-largest island famed for its rare orchids and migratory birds, visitors will find crumbling medieval culture, biodiversity and lush wilderness free from air and light pollution. For a blissful retreat like no other, consider staying at Pädaste Manor, Estonia’s leading boutique hotel resort and spa.

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Things to see and do in Muhu

Amidst lush farmland grazed by both horses and ostriches, Muhu Island offers up the magic of folk culture and cultural sites touched by pagan influence. Reflect on the mystical with magnificent views of the endless sea atop Üügu Bluff, the largest of its type on the north-eastern coastline of Muhumaa, at 300 metres across, showcasing a number of cave-like basins formed by tidal erosion.

For a touch of the gothic, take a visit to St. Catherine’s Church, the most notable example of Gothic architecture in Estonia, flanked by pagan tombstones and holding remnants of original 13th-century frescos. Art and magic on Muhu is not reserved for believers however; the local houses also act as canvases for artistic expression, adorned with colourfully painted mystical symbols. Head to Liiva Centre for more insight into the traditional arts scene which specialises in brightly coloured costumes, textiles and other handicrafts.

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The birthplace of beloved Estonian writer Juhan Smuul and the set for various Estonian cult movies, Koguva village is a cultural stunner

Glimpse local life of a gone-by era at Koguva village, an ancient heritage fishing village and marina brimming with slow-moving charm. The birthplace of beloved Estonian writer Juhan Smuul and the set for popular and by now cult movies such as Here We Are (‘Siin me Oleme’) and Men Don’t Cry (‘Mehed ei Nuta’), Koguva village is a cultural stunner. In the vicinity find the Muhu Museum which presents a wider view on 19th-century village culture with replica houses and exhibits of traditional textiles and dolls. Here you can also learn more about the island’s sombre history, from the impact of both Soviet and Nazi power and its isolation from the mainland until 1992, lending the island its lost-in-time quality.

Estonia

Photo: Toimetaja Tõlkebüroo

Pädaste Manor Estonia

Pädaste Manor | Photo: Pädaste Manor

Recharge in style at Pädaste Manor

Adding to the distinct magic of Muhu is the award-winning boutique resort and spa known as Pädaste Manor, standing out in the countryside with grand 19th-century architecture and upscale culinary experiences. Dutchman Martin Breuer and Estonian Imre Sooäär acquired Pädaste Manor in 1995 and have since turned it into – after 25 years of painstaking restoration – one of the foremost hotel resorts in the Baltic countryside; a unique haven of tranquillity and excellence.

Our team is selected on passion and love for hospitality,” Breuer explains. “A good mix of nationalities and personalities with character and charm.” As for the guests, they are “well-travelled individuals from diverse backgrounds… more like voyagers then tourists. They’re a bit spoiled in the positive sense of the word!” he admits.

Martin Breuer and Imre Sooäär

Martin Breuer and Imre Sooäär | Photo: Anton Sucksdorff

Pädaste Manor Estonia

Pädaste Manor | Photo: Pädaste Manor

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Out in the manor’s elegant conservatory, hungry guests can find Alexander Restaurant, one of the finest restaurants in the country

Bequeathed by the King of Denmark to an illustrious Baltic German family, this tranquil estate is no stranger to both nobility and creatives. The garden helipad is not the only entrance point, but definitely the most suiting. Alternatively, approach up the juniper-lined gravel path, to view the stately Wes Anderson-style façade, where rustic wood-beamed rooms await, furnished with old-fashioned bathtubs, cosy fur accents and luxury amenities including in-room iPads and PS3s.  “Do not expect gilded mirrors and knee-thick carpets,” Breuer says, “but a refined modesty and understated luxury.” For the ultimate getaway, make a booking for The Private Farm House, a secluded thatched-roof log house featuring a fireplace, library and veranda that overlooks a private garden and orchard.

Out in the manor’s elegant yet airy conservatory, hungry guests can find Alexander Restaurant, one of the finest restaurants in the country. Taste the refined multicourse Nordic menu prepared by Michelin-level Head Chef Stefan Berwanger and Pâtissier Achim Braitsch with artisan ingredients from across Muhu and Pädaste’s own meadows, served alongside classic cocktails and an epic selection of fine wines.

Alexander Head Chef Stefan Berwanger

Head Chef Stefan Berwanger | Photo: Pädaste Manor

Alexander Restaurant Pädaste Manor Estonia

Alexander Restaurant | Photo: Johannes Hõimoja

Alexander Restaurant Pädaste Manor Estonia

Alexander Restaurant | Photo: Lauri Laan

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Rainbowfest, taking place in October, offers a programme of culture, pampering and socialising over three nights

Join the fun at Rainbowfest

Running from the 18th-20th of October in 2019 at Pädaste is Rainbowfest, an exclusive weekend event for gay men hosted by Breuer and Sooäär. Breuer, a long-time gay advocate and founder of Tallinn’s legendary first gay club, Club Angel, now pours his open-minded efforts into Rainbowfest, organising a complete programme of culture, pampering and socialising over three nights. After beginning the days with morning yoga sessions and à la carte breakfasts, venture out to explore Muhu’s UNESCO heritage towns and homo-erotic military art from the soviet era, capping it all off back at the manor with leisurely cocktails in a hot tub setting concluded by piano-led singalongs beside the fireplace.

Pädaste Manor Breakfast

Photo: Imre Sooäär

Rainbowfest Pädaste Manor Estonia

Photo: Lewis Payton

Extend your stay with a day in Tallinn

To stay

Serving guests since 1850 from a decadent 14th-century Old Town property, Hotel St. Petersbourg is one of the longest-running hotels in Tallinn, and coincidentally one of the best, with original features melding seamlessly with modern design elements and a racy collection of burlesque photography.

To see and do

Just ten minutes from Tallinn’s Old Town lies the hip, slow-paced neighbourhood of Kalamaja, beloved for its colourful architecture and youthful, creative energy, in addition to an ever-growing number of stylish eateries and stores, based in its once-abandoned factories. Nearby is the uber-cool creative hub known as Telliskivi Creative City, home to hip design stores to vintage shops with bustling restaurants throughout. Come on the weekend to see Telliskivi come alive with street performance and pop-up events. Then there’s the rather more old school Balti Jaam Market, a market complex near Baltic Station, where locals and travellers jostle in big crowds to get their hands on second-hand, Soviet-era treasures, freshly roasted coffee and top-notch street food.

For a secretive post sundown experience, Whisper Sister is one of the best bars in Tallinn. Call the number listed on the golden plaque outside the entrance to be invited inside to this 1920s speakeasy-style cocktail bar, featuring a luxurious lounge area as well as booth seating for a private yet stylish rendezvous.

Hotel St Petersbourg Tallinn Estonia

Hotel St. Petersbourg

Tallinn Estonia

Tallinn | Photo: Karson

Refreshingly friendly

While Estonia and Muhu don’t receive the hype of Mykonos or Sitges, these modest beauties represent an entirely welcoming destination for curious gay travellers. Estonia, as the first former Soviet republic to legalise same-sex unions, has come a long way. Its young citizens show a pretty relaxed attitude towards individual lifestyle choices, and it’s refreshing to feel the energy and vibe of a country still in transformation, where a saltiness of change is alive in the air.

Receive a complimentary bottle of sparkling wine with Mr Hudson

Treat yourself to a stay at Pädaste Manor and receive a complimentary bottle of Velenosi Cuvee Brut (Méthode Champenoise). Just mention Mr Hudson when making a booking.

Estonia Seafront

Photo: Christopher Campbell

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