If you really want to do the countryside, then you must experience sleeping on hay, in a barn. As long as you are prepared to sleep on piles of dried grass, this could be the best recession-holiday with no huge expenses involved.
While in the past, this would have been something people did when they had no other options left for them, now it is all about loving nature and being in tune with it. It is considered by holiday makers and nature-loving tourists as a cheap and beautiful alternative to expensive clinical vacations.
The new concept of spending weekends in barns that have been converted into hotel rooms for tourists, with beds of fresh hay is becoming a vacation of choice in Germany, and in the Lederhosen belt – Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Austria.
The idea behind this concept is basic. Guests sleep on the hay in the barns. These places are clean, natural and eco friendly. Since most of them are located on farms, it is almost like going on a farming adventure, complete with chickens and pigs, campfire by night, wake up calls by the birds early in the morning and a farmer’s breakfast.
Heuhotels in one such place that offers this sort of accommodation. “Heu means hay” in the German language. They charge $11 (8 Euros) a night for couples, families and backpackers. In Central Germany, there is one such hay hotel that accommodates as many as 60 people in its barns, with fresh hay as pillows.
There are other hotels, such as Zum Alten Marstall, that offer “private” bedrooms with “real” beds. This is a luxury hotel that exhibits a medieval look, with its staff wearing tunics and woolen cloaks. Male guests here are called “Knights.” If you want to be a Knight for a day or two, this might perhaps be for you.
These hay hotels organize elaborate farm-related activities to give their guests the feel of an authentic farm vacation. The activities include mountain biking, archery, horse riding and canoeing. Cheese, fresh meat and other farm products are also sold, to take back home.
If you’re thinking that the accommodation is all the same – a barn and some hay, you are in for a surprise as there is much more to these havens of hay. Some hotels have feed stalls that are fitted with wooden platforms, open lofts with bales of hay and some even offer privacy with the use of curtains, and provide guests bottles of wine to enjoy in bed. But don’t forget to take your own towels and sleeping bags.
For those looking for privacy or suffer from hay-fever, some of these hotels have bedrooms with conventional beds and a choice of hay-filled or feather pillows.
While the idea of sleeping in hay may not be for everyone, there are many takers, going by the number of guests that enjoy their stay at these hay hotels throughout Germany and other places. These hotels have been around for many years and with nature lovers increasing by the day, their guest count is on the rise too.
With no laundry bills, no energy wastage, no construction, these hay havens are promoting low-impact nature-friendly tourism in all its glory.
While people that enjoy these places the most are the lone cyclists, families following the bike trail through the Neckar valley, hikers, nature lovers and children, there are even corporates from the city that look at this as a perfect way for their teams to bond, and for weddings – sitting by a camp fire, eating freshly cooked meat and rolling on a bed of hay.
These places also make perfect romantic getaways and what better way to spend a honeymoon? According to a Greenpeace activist who runs a hay hotel, “For lovers, there’s nothing more exciting than a night on the hay.” At the very low prices which include breakfast, weddings can be hosted too and the happy couple can afford to put up a whole lot of their friends in these beautiful medieval guestrooms – an experience their friends will never forget.
The hay at these places usually gets changed a couple of times a year and these are strictly no-smoking zones. At most of these farms, you don’t necessarily have to sleep on hay beds, as they do have private rooms with beds built into the haylofts. But who would want to miss out on the “hay” experience?
People who have lived in a farm during their childhood years can get back to being a child and relive those memorable days that got lost somewhere in the hustle and bustle of city life. This gives us a chance to get as close to nature as possible.