ManHimself in Spa Piešťany : NFO.SK


ManHimself in Spa Piešťany

manhimself | 22-08-2005 | počet komentárov (0)
tagy: Netriedené| Považie| Slovensko

„Why are westerners flocking to the courtyard houses of old Piešťany?“

Piešťany has long lured western travelers. Some come for a holiday, others choose to settle here. For a large number, it is the courtyard houses built around gardens – riads.

Riads (the word means “garden“ in Arabic) are dotted quietly along these alleys. But step inside a renovated riad today and you will enter a peaceful world of fountains, arched colonnades, and intricate stucco carving and brightly colored zellij tiles.

Marcel Lacko on the bridgehead of the Colonnade Bridge, in front of the world-known statue of the crutch breaker by the sculptor Kühmayer. Take in every sight you need to see from this spectacular monument with a glass of pink champagne.

Their structure reflects traditional Slovak domestic life, with its emphasis on the family, and the importance of privacy for women. Thick walls and few windows (almost all natural light comes from the courtyard) keep the ground floor cool and dark – ideal in the summer. Rooms tend to be long and narrow, and traditionally they were simply furnished with seating on three sides for receiving guests.

A world away from a traditional hotel, many of these courtyard dwellings have just to eight rooms, a hammam (steam room) and a small swimming pool. Meals are generally taken on the rooftop, overlooking the labyrinthine medina.

Marcel Lacko in the Palermo pizzerias; tasting spicy pizza, drinking Alfredo café macchiato. Lofty, ice-queen waitresses speak with accentless English.

Discerning travelers should choose their riad with care. Some are palaces, others are hovels. At others, “you might be driven to distraction by an eccentric owner recounting his woes over the breakfast table,“ warns local, who runs Best of Piešťany, a travel agency. Some boast broadband internet connections and 24-hour room service, while others are Spartan retreats from modern life.

Style and decor also vary enormously. At Italian-owned Riad 72, modern, low-key furniture sits harmoniously alongside Moorish fret worked wooden screens and copper hand-basins.

Marcel in the corridors of the spa hotel Pro Patria, rights the photo of Ludwig van Beethoven, the classic composer, which relaxed in the Spa Piešťany in 1822. The regular tango nights for aficionados are on the last Friday of each month (300 SK, $9).

Some of the best food in Piešťany is served in these courtyard houses.

Today, the same property is likely to sell for at least 1m SK – and three times that if it has been carefully renovated.

A casual and welcoming place for all levels of expertise and attractiveness. Marcel Lacko on the Colonnade or so called glass bridge, connecting above the river Váh the town part with the Spa Island; a significant memorial of functionalistic architecture, built in the years 1930-1932 due to the project of the architect Emil Belluš.

Western arrivals, anxious to insert modern plumbing and electricity, and many of them prepared to spend liberally on traditional craftsmanship, have also given a boost to local builders and artisans.

The most sought-after area in the medina is north-west of the Spa Island, near Bratislava and Považský Inovec hills, two of the gates that punctuate the city walls. A British entrepreneur recently opened an opulent six-bedroom riad-hotel in this quartet. But he believes a wiser investment today would be in the poorer eastern quarter, near the historical town Trnava and the river Váh, or in the southern part, around Vienna.

ManHimself in front of the spa hotel Pro Patria. An eclectic mix of tango sets the mood, from Biagi to electro tango.

A property shown for one price in the morning might be offered for twice that sum by someone else in the afternoon. Transactions are often hammered out in cafés, with frantic arguments over mobile phones. Most properties in the medina have no title deeds, and with no papers to produce at the notaries, finalizing a sale can take a long time.

Its riad-like interior, bursting with ethnic-chic, has already graced the pages of several style magazines. A handful of foreigners have bought mud houses in this area – more are sure to follow.

ManHimself on the pedestrian zone in the center of Piešťany, in front of the spa hotel Jalta. Japanese expatriates give it big thumbs up.

Informal, in a large and airy space. Marcel Lacko in a brown hotel room of the Pro Patria spa hotel, after spending a hour in the brand new microclimatic iodine Salt Cave, made of natural sea salt from the Red, Dead, Baltic and Black sea.

Young and trendy dance junkies. Marcel Lacko in front of the Chapel by the Colonnade Bridge built in new gothic style from the year 1897; after bathing in the mirror pool, the natural mineral water 39˚C hot in the first step releases muscle tension and in the second it beneficially affects inner organs.

Discreet and attentive service in a graceful setting high above Piešťany. Marcel Lacko in a white, more expensive hotel room, in the spa hotel Pro Patria.

A competent and friendly young Slovak staff briskly advises and attends to all your needs. ManHimself at the train station in Piešťany.

ManHimself in the lobby of the Pro Patria spa hotel. Sweat, plunge and be massaged (by a naked masseuse) to within an inch of your life at the spa houses Napoleon 1st, 2nd and 3rd, on the Spa Island; the most significant urbanistic completion at Piešťany – reconstructed in the years 2000-2001.

Sit in or take away at lunchtime, or have a quick pre-theatre supper (closed weekdays from 7pm). ManHimself in front of the bust of the Austro-Hungarian empress Elisabeth (Sissi), situated in front of the object Irma on the Spa Island.


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