We took a direct flight Edinburgh to Budapest and hired a car. Good roads and thanks to google map and directions from the host we had a very easy run to Homoki Lodge without getting lost even once. M5 to junction 66 (Rental car company had already paid the toll fee for the motorway so no hassle with that) turn right towards Baja on route 55, pass through Malahoram then watch for marker 24, then a horse sign on the right about 20m before the turn in up what looks like a farm track. The Lodge is probably about 4 km along sand tracks (official roads though) and each turn is very well sign posted HUT.
We arrived and wandered about a bit before someone came to meet us as the main restaurant/bar building is a bit further on from the Lodge buildings. Oliver, the host was very friendly and showed us our room. Our room was more like a suite – showerroom, separate loo, hallway with storage space and a bedroom with twin beds. All very nicely done charmingly rustic. Very clean but really a dodgy smell (actually we thought maybe someone had taken a dump just before we arrived but turns out it is the drain in the shower). There is a small safe that we have managed to set wrong and lock ourselves out of twice but it’s OK because the housekeeper can open it! My bed is comfy enough but Becca’s is overdue a new mattress as it has lumpy springs in all the wrong places.
The central heating is on so its very cosy. The windows have insect screens so that when its warmer you can leave the windows open without fear of invasion.
I had a look at 2 other rooms. The double room next to ours is very nice. It has a huge nice bathroom with a bath! There is another suite in this building that Oliver’s mother is in just now. For a family or group that can be joined through with our rooms if required as there is an adjoining door. In a separate building there is a set-up that can be a suite with double or twin rooms, showeroom and sitting room with terrace or can be a double/twin and a single with shared shower room. Similar nice clean rustic look with good bathroom facilities. The water here smells swampy and there is nothing they can do about that. You get used to it. They provide bottled water in the rooms and next summer will have mini-bar, though I would prefer to have a tea making facility.
So we went across to the restaurant/bar to meet the other guests. This is a completely private facility for guests (I thought from the blurb that it was going to be a public restaurant). It was recently converted from farm buildings and is very nicely done with separate sitting and dining areas and big doors opening out onto a patio. We ate outside some lunchtimes and I can imagine this is really nice for sitting out on summer evenings too. Great for parties/weddings too.
After intros and a bit of chat the musical evening started with a brandy tasting session – 7 different types of local home made brandy – all so strong that I couldn’t tell the difference between them and I felt a bit light headed after a tiny sip of each. Then dinner then dancing. All accompanied by an award winning sittar player who actually made a very pleasant noise. The dancing was fun – 3 male staff and Oliver were there to lead the dancing (with often ladies only as guests the boys are brought in for these evenings but they seemed to be having as much fun as us anyway). We wimped out fairly early but the other guests were going until the wee small hours apparently.
Breakfast 8 till 9: Cereal, cold meats, salad!, toast etc. Plenty of choice. Plenty of food.
Completed the usual paperwork and went to meet the horses. Becca and I got 2 little black horses (everyone’s first day rides I think). They proved very well behaved clockwork trail horses but mine was not the most comfortable (think square wheels). Rode for about 3 hours in the morning then lunch and a kip and out again in the afternoon for another couple of hours. Very flat through fields, tracks and woods, and pretty fast. Lots of very long canters/gallops. Legs definitely feeling the burn. After this there was time for a shower, kip and a read before dinner. Evening- a nice meal with the other 2 guests then fairly early to bed.
Rode in the morning 9am-noon. Ramses. Really nice little horse (TB/quarter horse type). Becca’s horse was really good too. Pm. Went to Szeged to get a camera. Oliver gave us good directions and we found a big shopping centre no problem- didn’t linger there as exactly the same as any shopping centre anywhere in Europe. We managed to get what we wanted with no Hungarian. Most of the young people speak good englicsh. We took a wander into the city and that was worth visiting nice buildings, fountains etc and trams that work!. Back home for a kip before dinner.
Only Becca and I there today. We rode in the morning- the 2 black one’s again. Nice route taking in a wild boar breeding place and fallow deer too. Again some good long gallops and a nice route along tracks coming back through the woods, but it was quite cold (my fault for underestimating the drop in temperature compared to the day before). Lunch at the homestead then Oliver took us to the National Park/museum. This included a horse display – spears, swords etc. Really good but all the talk in Hungarian. Other things to see: a massive panoramic painting depicting the first Hungarians moving in 1000 years ago, reproduction village houses, farm, and town houses (a bit like Beamish) that you can wander around. I would definitely recommend this trip but would say go with a guide as mostly it is in Hungarian so it is good to take a translator.
We stopped at a restaurant on the way back – I guess as we were the only guests- don’t think they normally do that. Loads of different choices. We had a very nice fish stew dish.
Just us again with the English guide (Cheryl) and one of the Hungarian guides (Yanna). Lovely hot day. Fabulous horse- Herzig, Becca on Madke. Lots of really fast stuff – and these 2 are really fast but perfect as they slow down as soon as the guide puts his hand up to indicate stopping. They are not even push-button rides – they do it all without having to use the buttons! Rode about 3 hours to a pub where we had a beer and beautiful huge burgers for lunch. This is one of their regular guest rides. It took a couple of hours to get back to the lodge tea and delicious homemade biscuits.
Bex and I tried the sauna but didn’t last very long (I don’t much like saunas). Bex swam but I was a wuss- too cold for me, but it was lovely to sit in the gardens in the sun. It is a very peaceful and relaxing place. I can see that in the summer this would be a great place to hang out.
Some new people arrived about 4 and went out riding for an hour. We met them at dinner. They are going to be fun. Sounds like they have been on almost every riding holiday you could list – but either booking direct or with In The Saddle- I’ll work on that! This is the English couple that live in Malaysia. Hopefully you will hear from them.
We were meant to do the fish lake trip where you ride out and have fish soup cooked on the banks of a lake but it was very wet so we didn’t do that one. We didn’t put the right clothes on so we were frozen and soaked through. The 2nd guide offered to bring Becca and I back early but we stuck it out. I rode Sultan a big solid dead easy ride but not so fast as some of the others. Becca rode Ramses and loved him. Rode for about 3 hours. Straight in the shower before lunch to thaw out. Much better once we were warm again. Had a nice ride in the afternoon as it dried up. Had some good long canters and gallops.
Lunch was salad, a really tasty pork/egg concoction (local recipe) then pancakes. Dinner soup, pork loin stuffed with sausage, with rice, fruit layers for pud (something like a smoothie).
Our last day’s riding so we both got our favourites Herzig for me and Ramses for Becca. The other couple got Sultan and Madke. Had a lovely ride of about 3 ¼ hours through some less travelled tracks through the woods and taking in a Serbian bunker and a group of the original Hungarian grey cattle. Very impressive. Lots of trot, canter and gallop. Fabulous horses!
Lunch onion soup, deep fried breaded cheese and mushrooms and corn, macaroons for pud.
In the afternoon it was p***ing down but we rode anyway. The guide picked a route mostly in the trees so we didn’t get too cold and had a nice fast ride with a little bit of impromptu racing (not allowed of course).
In the evening we had dinner in the cosy cellar dining room with a log fire and candles. It was lovely Hungarian goulash. Delicious. Oliver brought us some local booze to try.
So it’s good bye to these lovely horses. I offered to swap Herzig and send Glen here for training in how to go fast then stop easily and immediately chillax. Would like to take Ramses home too- he is a real little sweetie.
Between us we tried 7 different horses. All super well behaved – basically just leave them alone to do their job. Condition-wise they are very fit trail horses not sleek and shiny but nothing particularly thin and all the one’s we saw being worked were sound and well shod. The way they are managed looks pretty good. They are mostly in a large sand paddock with ad-lib big bale hay, and a shelter they can go under if its very hot or wet. They get out in grass paddocks for a few hours a day. They get hard feed after they’ve worked.
is all good condition and nice and soft. They have a couple of western saddles and a south African saddle that people can request if they want but mostly they are in fairly decent English saddles (no plastic). They all have running martingales and mostly in snaffles (one in a Pelham with top rein only and no curb chain so might as well have been a snaffle).
is very good. Guides at the front and rear monitor that everybody is OK. To start off with you are pretty much one behind the other but they eased off once they realised we were all well in control. The ground is very good – sandy tracks and the horses are not at all spooky so you feel completely relaxed and safe even when the horses are going very fast.
is delicious all grown locally and cooked in traditional Hungarian style which is very nice, and there was plenty of it. There is quite a lot of pork on the menu from the hairy pigs that they rear themselves. They are very cute and very, very tasty! As you ride you see hundreds of fields of peppers, pumpkins, squash, potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes etc. etc. so although the lodge don’t grow their own veg you know they are locally sourced.
Guests eat together. Nice and informal. Oliver didn’t eat with us except the evening at the restaurant when we were the only guests, but he is around serving the drinks and chatting.
Whatever you want is available at the bar, though was not very free flowing by Scottish/Irish tastes. You just have to ask and you get more but it felt a bit awkward. I think they would make more money with an honesty bar where you write your own tab and pay at the end of the week. I know there will be mini-bars in the room next year, but that’s not very sociable.
The food is so good I assumed the cook was a properly trained chef but he is a local guy trained up by Oliver. He doesn’t have much English but is very friendly and smiley.
The 2 Hungarian horse guides work alternate days looking after the horses guiding and waiting table in the evening. They speak very little English. The other guide was a girl from England. Really nice. Loads of chat and very interesting as she ahs worked in racing and in horse jobs all over the world. She has done 2 summer seasons at Homoki and will be back next year.
The host Oliver is very serious about his job and really puts everything into it. He is very Austrian- very nice but quite earnest.
I did mention about the blocked shower drain and they sorted that immediately. The maid failed to wash our water glasses or remove a large dead spider that was in the corner of the loo all week but I felt it was a bit petty to complain about those. The restaurant area was spotless.
Trip to Szeged and to National museum definitely worth doing. I think there is also a museum of farming but we didn’t go there. That would have appealed to me.
Oliver was discussing whether an all-in trip including the cultural activities either with or without the riding would have a market but I rather think they are an add-on as the first appeal is the riding holiday.
Shooting is available – rabbit any time. Wild boar, deer etc in book in advance as a license is needed. Presumably fishing would be available too but I forgot to ask about that.
A horse drawn carriage trip is available. Would recommend for non-riders as a great way of getting out to see the countryside.
Sauna, swimming pool, games, loungers, shade all available in the garden. Very relaxing.
There is also a spa in the nearest town (10 mins) and also in Szeged ( about 30 mins away). Looks good. Masseuse comes to the lodge – can be booked on the day. Those that used her thought the experience was “different” but good.
Neither spas nor massages are my thing I much prefer to slob out with a book.
Activities are discussed the night before but obviously there is room for adjustment depending on the weather.
Single travellers and single shy women only if there are others there. I think it would be pretty dull to be there on your own.
Couples, groups, families- yes. But not very exciting for children. Probably a couple of days would be enough.
Mainly this place is for people who want to relax and take time out.
Probably wouldn’t suit non-riders for more than a day or 2 unless they had some other specific activity such as shooting or fishing.
It wouldn’t suit complete beginners but I think a nervous rider would really enjoy gaining confidence with these horses.
For competitive riders and adventurous hunting crowd a couple of days would suffice – it is all very flat and there is no jumping.
The really long gallops are what makes the riding here good and a little bit different so riders need to be pretty fit. Excellent choice for a relaxing holiday. Great horses and I loved to see the countryside and farming there but it was quite samey after a while even though we were on different routes each time. As always the other guests can make or break your holiday experience.
If guests are there 2 or 3 days I would recommend lots of riding. If a week then I would recommend to intersperse with the cultural activities as Oliver calls them (I think calling it “touristy stuff” sounds more interesting). I would recommend a day or 2 in Budapest on the way home. We just spent half a day there before we flew out and it is a lovely city.
This is probably the most relaxing riding holiday I have ever been on. Such a tranquil location. The horses were fabulous and the long gallops were amazing. The horses were fast yet so reliable that you felt safe at all times. It is also a great excuse to go on a holiday off the usual tourist routes but that has interesting places to see. Oh, and the food was just amazing. We certainly didn’t go hungry in Hungary!
To read more about this ride and enquire about space please go to: HORSE RIDING HOLIDAYS HUNGARY – HOMOKI LODGE