Svachovka: Soaking Up (and In) the Fairytale Flavor of South Bohemia
We weren’t sure what to expect on our stay at Svachovka in the Czech Republic after spending a few wonderful days exploring the fairytale town of Cesky Krumlov (CHESS-kee KRUM-luv) in South Bohemia. Dreams of castles and kingdoms were still still dancing around our heads as our driver wound his way through the idyllic countryside. You have so many choices on where to stay in the region - from storybook B&Bs in town, glamping resorts, and luxury hotels. But Svachovka hotel in Cesky Krumlov is the only place billed as a rural retreat and spa with its very own 18-hole golf course, brewery, distillery, chocolate candy factory, and restaurant. We’re not golfers, so we were interested to see what else would be of interest to food lovers like us, and how a hotel could be all of those things at once. Boy were we in for a surprise!
Located just 6 km (3.7 miles) east of Cesky Krumlov, Svachovka is near the village of Mirkovice in the southern Czech Republic. Close to the northern Austrian border, there are endless rolling hills and quaint farmhouses with orange tiled rooftops. Even better, tourists haven’t yet overrun the region, which is a big reason you should go. Svachovka is also just a half hour drive from Ceske Budejovice (Chess-KAY Bood-YEAH-vitz-sah) - home of Budvar, the Budweiser original beer, my fellow foodies. So if you love beer, add this to the old Bucket List. You’re gonna want to visit.
Surrounded by lush farmland and the 18-hole Svachovka Lhotka Golf Course, it’s peaceful and idyllic here. The hotel is comprised of three different types of accommodations. The main hotel where we stayed is the original farmhouse of the property, built over 100 years ago. It has VIP suites and rooms overlooking the pond and wedding venue. The Depandance Tee House has modern ‘golf style’ rooms and one fully-equipped apartment with private kitchen and living room. Lastly, the Depandance Distillery has new nicely appointed rooms on the top floor.
Though the original farm and out buildings date over 100 years, the current owner clearly has a vision for the property, and it shows. Vaclav Cvach bought the property in 2006 and has been busy ever since adding onsite amenities like the golf course, modernizations, upgrades and enterprises to not only bring the property into the 21st century, but create a cultural and tourist destination all its own.
While Svachovka Lhotka may appeal to golfers, it would make a perfect wedding or special events venue with everything you could need for you and your guests right here. There weren’t any events during our stay but the restaurant on the other hand was a hub of activity, hopping with a local employee group having dinner and singing to guitar music played by two of their members. We have no idea what the songs were about but the guests seemed jubilant and happy. We think families would love it here too. There’s lots of room for kids to run around and explore. There’s a small playground with kids’ toys and menu items in the restaurant geared toward kids.
The most fun they might have though, is feeding the resident goats and sheep in the barnyard just steps from the pond. Ask the staff and they’ll bring you food or kitchen leftovers to feed them. The animals are used to being around people, quite gentle, and love their feeding time.
Czech beer is renowned the world over, so it’s no surprise that Svachovka features an onsite, state-of-the-art brewery at Svachovka, sharing the same name as the bell hanging in its belfry - Glokner. Started in 2013, the brewery is tucked away just behind the Reception area. Our tour began on the ground floor with brewmaster Milos, who led us through all the technical aspects of brewing. It’s not a big brewery, but the facility is a great example of efficient beer production. Nearly every inch of space on both the ground and first floors was occupied by modern brewing equipment, supplies, and storage tanks. It’s a tribute that they’re able to produce 800-900 hectoliters (21-23,776 gallons) of beer annually. And not just any beer - the brewery has won its third medal award for the Best Semi-Dark Beer in the Czech Republic.
In addition to the semi-dark beer, about twelve percent of production is light lager along with IPA, an American style pale ale, weizen beer, and a stout beer. There’s even a green beer for St. Patrick’s Day and a heavy dark beer for the Christmas season. We tasted a semi-dark and their light lager.
Were they good? Not really. They were excellent!
Sadly, they don’t export to the US. Which means the only way to taste it is to go!
Getting its start in 2015, the SVACH distillery is yet another inspiring enterprise here. With all the equipment, tubing, and bottles filled with tinted liquids, it felt like we’d wandered into a giant laboratory surrounded by copper stills and rows of giant gourd-shaped glass bottles called demijohns. We were greeted by Petr, SVACH’s accomplished Master Distiller, whose passion for distilling started purely for fun. He now brings 25 years of experience to producing spirits here. He’s a quiet man and meticulous to a fault, keeping exact measurements in his logbooks as the distillations progress. His eyes never left the equipment as he introduced us to flavor after flavor of spirits and poured just as many.
We sat at a tasting table made from 100 year old beams from the original building. Pears, plums, apricots and brambles, and local infusions too many to name…using a fermentation process that can take up to six months in large glass bottles, Petr produces them all.
We tasted a beer brandy - interesting and strong at 43% alcohol, with a slight beer taste and yeasty aroma. There’s rum - buttery, toffee-like and very sweet. Gin anyone? Theirs was wildly aromatic and distinct. Gold beer brandy - this one was slightly gold in color, aged in Jack Daniels barrels and smoother than the other beer brandy. The two stars of the show, however, were a delicious apricot liquor and the distiller’s favorite, a plum spirit which was quite strong. The variety of flavors they’re producing seems ambitious but the small batches were all unique and excellent.
All this practicing is working toward their main goal at SVACH - to produce a single malt whiskey that will rival the Scotches made in, well, Scotland. And 2018 marks the first release of their whiskey labeled Old Well Whiskey using mash for fermentation produced in the brewery then distilled twice in the distillery. Then it’s put into oak barrels for time to do the rest. We haven’t yet developed a taste for Scotch, so honestly, we wouldn’t know a good malt whiskey from a bad one. But Petr has high hopes that what they produce will be on a par with excellent Scotches.
All of the SVACH liquors can be purchased at the reception shop. But be forewarned…the small colorful bottles are beautiful and filled with every tasty liquor you can imagine. Bring an extra packing pod just for these tasty treats!
Duetino Chocolate Candies
Did someone mention chocolate? Duetino is the latest venture at Svachovka, and it makes sense. I mean, the brewery and distillery are right next door and aptly set the stage for an ultimate sweet treat, don’t you think? Named for two local sisters who helped bring the new idea to fruition, this small candy factory was just started in 2018 using the finest chocolate from Belgium, and they’re creating small bites of chocolate heaven that pair beautifully with the fruity spirits being produced next door.
In fact, a taste of Bramble liquor is part of their well-organized chocolate tasting - a perfect treat for anyone with a sweet tooth. And a nice assortment of their candies come in a pretty presentation box, so get some to take home.
A stay at Svachovka demands a meal or two in Restaurant Glockner but bring your appetite. Located in what was once the horse barn at the farm, the restaurant is charming and cozy, with wooden tables and benches in a long room with a low arched ceiling, much as you’d imagine what a hundred year old horse barn might look like. There’s a nice fireplace at the end of the room that no doubt makes the room even cozier but it was a bit too warm for a fire during our stay.
Chef Lukáš Andrlík uses fresh locally sourced seasonal products to create traditional Czech dishes. Czech cuisine was new to us and we tried as much as we could (it also happens to be filling!) We ordered several platters of smoked meats and cheese with sides of housemade pickles, and they were all robust and delicious. Czech beer made at the Glokner brewery perfectly complimented our dinner and rounded out the experience. Breakfast is also included with your room. Served buffet-style in a room adjoining the main dining room, it was plentiful and very good.
Czech Beer Spa
If this is a new concept to you, welcome to the club. But it’s seemingly a big thing in the Czech Republic, and more resorts seems to be adding them to their menu of fun services - or ways to entertain unsuspecting tourists! But just what is a beer spa? In late afternoon we found out by taking full advantage of the Czech beer spa at Svachovka we’d been hearing so much about. We were staying in a suite which featured their own wooden soaking tubs, but there’s also a separate spa onsite where you can soak in your very own beer bath if your room doesn’t have one. An attendant lugged to our room what was probably an eighth of a barrel (using a US quarter barrel as a guide) along with a five gallon bucket full of beer. She put the small barrel of Czech Republic beer - in this case, their own Glokner beer - in a refrigerated tap between the two tubs and poured the bucket o’ beer in the tubs. Next came the hot water and some fragrant aromatics which all made for the coolest bubble bath we’d ever soaked in. Like most spa treatments, this was soooo relaxing. Plus, it’s really great for your skin, and made ours tingle! The suds left a semi-dark brown beer ring on our skin for a moment. It wiped away and the few beers we drank only made it more hilarious! ;-)
Lodging at Svachovka
Our check-in was welcoming and smooth and the receptionist gave us an excellent overview of the property. Our room was just a few stairs up in the same building as the reception area, and what a room it was - a newly renovated 2-room attic suite that was spacious and comfortably furnished with a separate large bedroom, generous glass enclosed shower, wood and tile throughout, and a beautiful view overlooking part of the golf course and the pond and stage where weddings are held. But without a doubt the real attention getters in the room were the twin side-by-side wooden soaking tubs.
What We Loved
The sleek and roomy shower with its luxurious rain shower head.
The Queen bed was probably the most comfortable bed we slept on in our month abroad, and the bedroom alone was plenty big for just the two of us. If we’d have been staying longer there would have been ample dresser and closet space.
The comfy loungers were the perfect touch for relaxing and enjoying the beautiful country view after our beer spa.
The wooden tubs weren’t just beautiful...they were functional as well. If the idea of a beer bath doesn’t appeal to you but you feel like soaking after a long day, the tubs would be perfect just filled with hot water and something aromatic.
What Needs Work
Several factors detracted from the room’s functionality: although we loved the bucket sink/wash basin, there was no overhead or even mirror side lighting over the sink which made drying your hair, makeup application, and shaving difficult.
Perhaps the worst part of the room design was the lack of a handrail along the top of the stairs. The commode is at the opposite end of the room from the bed, at the top of the tiled stairs. A small railing and handrail would prevent you from taking a tumble down the steps especially at night, or after one too many beers!
Stay at Svachovka
Staying outside Cesky Krumlov’s city center might not be ideal if you want to immerse yourself in the fairytale magic of the city day and night, but if you love golf, good beer, a relaxing and local restaurant experience, or have a mean sweet tooth, you can’t go wrong with a few nights at Svachovka. It’s on the way from Cesky Krumlov to Ceske Budjevice — both should be on your Europe bucket list — if you’re following the South Bohemia beer trail, so if you’re planning on exploring both, it’s worth a visit for a tour and tasting of some of the regions finest local products, all in one place.
A visit to Svachhovka makes a perfect day trip from Prague, and is an excellent option for hotels in Cesky Krumlov and just minutes away. They’ll even arrange a shuttle for you, or it’s an easy drive with a rental car. Go for dinner, go for the beer, or a round of golf. Whatever you do, just go!
IF YOU GO
Svachovka Retreat and Hotel — Book a tour in their distillery or brewery, reserve a table for dinner, or enjoy a relaxing beer spa. The hotel is just minutes from the town of Cesky Krumlov.
For golfers - The golf course at Svachovka offers an original South Bohemian combination of flat and more undulating greens, both short and long par-4 holes, and several par-3 holes. The most popular ones are undoubtedly holes 2 and 18. The resort offers starting lessons with experienced instructors, with complete equipment. Golf and accommodations packages are available, as well as play at Český Krumlov Golf Club or Hluboka and Vltavou Golf Club.