How it all started
The story of Raven’s Nest started in one of our mountain hikes.
As we were exploring the area, we noticed two ravens ﬂying above us, leading us to this cauldron-shaped piece of land.
As we were to discover, ravens along with eagles chose this amazing place to build their nests.
Eventually, so did we.
Here, we found a whole ensemble of barns, sheds, and stables that locals would use for grazing and hay-making from mid-spring to mid-autumn.
Some of them were in ruins and had to be replaced, while one was refurbished to its original appearance.
Seeing the rich environment, the spectacular landscape and the perfect location in the heart of Transylvania, we quickly realized the endless exploration possibilities of this place.
The desire to preserve this unique area and the energy of this land determined us to build “Raven’s Nest – The Hidden Village” as a small, secluded and welcoming retreat.
The unveiling of the hidden village
It took several years and the help of local craftsmen, artists, builders, and friends, who teamed up to create this unique project, making sure that everything is in line with the authenticity of these grounds. The establishment is made entirely from wooden structures, originally rural houses or sheds from the Apuseni mountains, with the oldest building dating to the 19th century in 1896. We managed to save the external walls of the houses, which had been colored by time, and only added the wooden tiles roofs.
For the general direction of design, we kept a minimalist approach, with a hint of inspiration from the Romanian folklore, hence the subtle presence of the geometrical shapes found in painted, crafted and woven elements. For the interiors, we used woolen carpets and bed covers, jute, and cotton for curtains, vintage objects as old as the houses, reconditioned hardwood furniture, and paintings inspired by the local fairytales.
The walls are made of a mixture of limestone and hemp, following an old technique that has a sanitary effect on the air inside the houses. This also has an isolation purpose, as the walls retain the heat better than other methods, keeping you cool during summertime and warm during winter.
Along with the archaic inspired elements, we used contemporary ones, to ensure the comfort of today, mostly when it came to the bathroom facilities or lightning objects. We wanted to keep a clean view of the interior design, without overcrowding the space with many objects and visuals. Some pieces of furniture were collected from locals and needed restoration and most of the woven fabrics come from Săpânța, Maramureș, where we were lucky to find a local artisan.
Travelers who choose Raven’s Nest come here for absolute peace and immersion in nature, and thanks to our secluded location, we get to offer them just that.
For those who want to explore, we offer our help and suggestions so they can make the most of their time here.
Whether they want to go hiking or take a mountain bike for a ride, we know all the good spots nearby.
In the village, we have developed plenty of recreational sites so our guests can enjoy the peace and quiet anywhere around the property. After exploring the surroundings, they can relax on one of our panoramic decks, take a hot bath in the cliff top jacuzzi, or watch a movie in our outdoor cinema. When we first saw this area, we noticed its amphitheater shape, just waiting to be designed, so we did it. We cleaned the area, installed a screen, threw some giant pillows on the ground and so the cinema in the forest came to life.
Because we understand the importance of honest food, the inspiration for our organic kitchen originates in the belief that our diet can be like our ancestors’, based on local, healthy and seasonal ingredients. We inspire our dishes from the local gastronomy, especially Transylvania, but not limited to this region. Our dishes are delicious, but also healthy, due to the ingredients’ origin and the balance between them. We use recipes collected by Radu Anton Roman, a well-known Romanian personality who spent years researching and talking to locals who still use their gardens for food supplies, instead of the supermarkets.
The challenges in the face of remoteness
All hard work that is born out of passion surely has its benefits and rewards. Nevertheless, when facing the worst-case scenarios, confronting the problems and finding the right solutions are the keys for adapting and developing. One of our fear factors comes right from the core, the beauty of the location. Sometimes, it feels like we are being tested by nature’s forces that are sudden and unstoppable. Climate change has been showing its effects more and more lately, leaving us to deal with less predictable weather events and damages after extreme conditions.
The first challenges we had to face in the beginning were related to the resources. Luckily, there is a mountain spring on the propriety, with an acceptable water flow to ensure the needs of the place. However, developing a smart water pipe system on the rough terrain was the real try-out. Same goes for powering up the place with electricity. We initially thought of alternative and renewable sources of energy, but we managed to get cabled to the main provider, involving much lower costs and fewer risks. We do have in mind to develop a plan regarding the use of solar panels, which would give Raven’s Nest 100% autonomy. Access to the property was hard in the beginning, as the spectacular mountain landscape is crossed by country roads only, and we had to improve the road.
Using the last resources available when it comes to craftsmanship, was also a real challenge, as it is extremely difficult to find the locals who still master the traditional arts and techniques.
For carpentry, wood restoration and carving, we have collaborated with craftsmen who worked for weeks, months or even years. It was a big job for a small number of people, which is why there are numerous teams that have worked here. Finding a blacksmith to make all the doorknobs and window handles in an authentic manner was a hustle, but we finally found him in Sibiu, quietly working on his masterpieces.
When decorating the village, we insisted on only using natural and handmade materials or products. Rugs, curtains and other fabrics found on site are handpicked or designed by us. There is still some interest for wool weaving amongst ladies living in the rural areas who have inherited the tools and mastery from their mothers and grandmothers.
Food plating looks amazing on the black ceramic we found at a family specializing in pottery, in the region of Bucovina, the village of Marginea.
We have already mentioned the importance of honest food. Finding the best ingredients, knowing how the animals were raised or how vegetables and fruits were cared for is another one of our concerns. We like to pick up our ingredients from local farmers and artisans, who, like us, strive to promote and preserve Romania’s goodies and culinary heritage.
Regarding our staff, you can imagine how difficult it is to find like minded people. We need people who will work up here for reasons that go beyond their paycheck: the idea of working in a remote location is thrilling and only some are up for the challenge to become ambassadors of our concept.
Environmental issues and the negative impact tourists and even locals can have on the environment are also a part of our concerns. We try our best to protect our surroundings from ecological disasters and we talk to our guests about environmental awareness and responsibility. The natural reserve around us is abundant in wildlife, and we believe our presence here should not be noticed – we discourage motorized off road activities inside the forest.
Searching for like-minded people
Mountain enthusiasts as we are, at Raven’s Nest, we facilitate outdoor activities and offer you memorable adventures, if you’re seeking to connect to the natural surroundings.
We want our guests to know that our heritage – architecture, gastronomy, history, natural sites, and landscapes – is valuable and deserves to be promoted in a different, more appealing perspective.
We believe we can contribute to this change that we hope others will follow as well, by drawing a model of eco-friendly tourism, that delivers a complete experience.