A Journey From St. Petersburg through the Baltic states
Opinionated reviews by a writer who travels incognito and always pays his own way
Pädaste is an ideal place in which to do nothing…..
By Andrew Harper
Published: February 2008
it is a pleasant two-hour drive south from Tallinn to the port of Virtsu, where you board a ferry for the hourlong crossing to the tiny island of Muhu. Once the seat of German aristocrats, Pädaste Manor has been lovingly restored by Dutchman Martin Breuer and Estonian Imre Sooäär, and their easygoing sophistication has created a truly delightful hotel. (Imre is also a member of the Estonian parliament.) Set right at the edge of the Baltic, the U-shaped compound comprises an original 18th-
Century manor house (currently being restored) and two wings of fi eldstone outbuildings that survey a tree-shaded
lawn. Bordering the sea is a marsh where swans may be seen gliding gracefully through the reeds.
Currently, the best rooms are the duplex Junior Suites with private balconies overlooking the main lawn. (The
manor house will reopen in summer 2008, adding a dozen or so luxurious new suites to the property.) They
are comfortably furnished, with beds topped by feather duvets under Estonian linen coverlets. Cozy sitting rooms
come with overstuffed chairs and couches, good lighting and CD players. Baths are spacious and well-lit. If you’re
traveling with a group of friends, or as a family, you should book the private farmhouse, with its own kitchen (you
can ask the hotel’s chef to prepare private dinners), three bedrooms, a media room, a private sauna and four large
baths, three of which have deep claw-footed tubs. The two-story farmstead has a big woodburning fi replace and
is appointed with a delightful mixture of contemporary furniture and Estonian antiques. The front porch (provided
with rocking chairs and chaise longues) is a perfect place to spend a tranquil afternoon with a book.
At dusk, the grounds of the estate are lit with oilburning torches, and dinner is served in a charming
stone building beside the sea. During good weather, it is an almost indescribable pleasure to settle into one of
the wicker tub chairs, to listen to the nightingales and to sample such delicious dishes as Estonian mushroom
soup, goat cheese-stuffed ravioli in pumpkin sauce, and steamed turbot with peas. Martin Breuer has assembled
one of the best wine lists in the Baltics, and service is prompt and charming.
The hotel’s principal amenity is a wonderful spa, which offers a variety of indigenous treatments, including
wraps employing local mud (the natives have been daubing themselves with the stuff for centuries to cure rheumatism,
arthritis and other ailments), “baths” in newly mown hay and a relaxing soak in seawater heated by a woodburning
stove. Since Muhu is fl at, it is perfect terrain for cycling excursions to local villages, which offer a snapshot of
traditional island life. Essentially, however, Pädaste is an ideal place in which to do nothing…..