The Inn on Balaban: The Authentic Experience from the Bran Valley
The Inn on Balaban is a rare presence among the local guest houses from Bran and the nearby valleys. Started as a family project of restoring traditional architecture in a place of peaceful beauty, the Inn on Balaban is perhaps the best choice if you’re looking for the complete and authentic experience in the mountain villages around Bran.
Located on top of a hill from Simon village, just a few kilometers away from the famous Bran Castle and less than one hour from Brasov, the Inn on Balaban has all the right ingredients: grand views of Bucegi and Piatra Craiului Mountains, surrounding rolling hills with haystacks and the picture-perfect image of sheep flocks and cows grazing undisturbed. But what essentially makes the inn special is its love for traditional peasant architecture so vividly reproduced in every single one of its elements, from interior decorations to construction techniques.
The story of its traditional architecture
The story of the inn began decades ago, in 1968, when its owner crossed the Carpathian Mountains while working on a documentary for National Geographic. The son of a Romanian diplomat, Mr. Dan Dimancescu was back then for the first time in Romania. Along his journey across the mountains, he stopped in Magura, a small village from Piatra Craiului Mountains, where he noticed a traditional mountain house. Many years later, the same house, meanwhile moved in the open-air Astra Museum from Sibiu, was his inspiration for creating the Inn on Balaban.
Built after the plans of the old house from Magura, only using traditional construction methods and materials, the Inn on Balaban is the faithful copy of a typical mountain house from the Bran Valley. Hand-crafted details like the 250,000 shingles handmade by a local artisan from Bran, the wooden nails, the hand-hewn beams, the furniture and decorations either handmade especially for the house or bought from antiques fairs add even more authenticity to the place.
Accommodation and services
The Inn on Balaban combines perfectly its traditional looks with all the comfort of modern life, including the much-needed Wi-Fi. It offers accommodation for up to 20 people in six double rooms and two single rooms, six rooms available in the Main House and three rooms available in the Peasant House. Over 100 years old, the Peasant House was saved from a sure demolition a few years ago when it was moved from the valley on the Balaban Hill where it was carefully reconstructed. The inn also offers a space for meetings and events, a large room suited for 10 to 20 people and two smaller rooms for workshops.
The range of services is diverse and fits the most various requests, from helicopter rides to cultural visits, hiking and trekking tours, winter sleigh rides, picnics and folk events.
Things to do
The typical and serene landscape of the mountain villages along Bran Valley will be your playground during your stay at the Inn on Balaban. Many hiking, cycling and walking trails cross the villages around Bran and most of them are easy enough even for families with younger kids. For the most adventurous, Piatra Craiului National Park – with their tall and narrow limestone ridge – is just a few kilometers away.
From the inn, you can take short trips to Bran Castle, to Rasnov where you can visit the medieval fortress and Valea Cetatii Cave, to the Bear Sanctuary from Zarnesti and to Brasov. You can also take one day trips to see some of the major fortified churches around Brasov – Prejmer, Viscri, Harman – or the castles from Prahova Valley – Peles Castle and Cantacuzino Castle.
In essence, the Inn on Balaban is the perfect location and guest house for the curious travelers looking to experience the traditional culture of a mountain village from the Carpathians, one of the most authentic and particular attractions of Romania.