Villa Gella offers an authentic but luxurious experience in the wilderness of the Rhodope Mountains of Bulgaria, an area of outstanding physical beauty, steeped in history and culture. Nestled in the sleepy hamlet of Gela, the reputed birthplace of the legendary musician Orpheus, this restored six-bedroom villa, at an altitude of 1,700m, commands magnificent views of the surrounding mountains.
Surrounded by peaks and pristine lakes, nature reserves, deep canyons, historical sites, and close to Bulgaria's second largest ski resort Pamporovo, Villa Gella has something for everyone, depending on the season: hiking, horse riding, biking, skiing, bird and wild animal watching, exploring caves and traditional villages, discovering the area’s diverse heritage, haunting folk music and invigorating dance, or just relaxing and enjoying the tranquility of the mountains. Four of the nine Bulgarian UNESCO heritage sites are within visiting distance.
Villa Gella has six distinctive bedrooms, each enjoying spectacular views and providing a luxurious bed, ample space for relaxation and the warmth of a wood-burning fireplace. The spacious living and dining room is at the heart of the house, a place to enjoy superb cooking by the villa’s private chef, afternoon tea brewed from local medicinal herbs, or get-togethers with local musicians, historians and archeologists.
A small but cozy library offers seclusion from the outside world – or access to it via the Internet and TV. The spa floor below has an indoor swimming pool and steam room, a yoga corner, and a small gym for rigorous or relaxing exercise. The terraced gardens provide additional seasonal options for sunbathing and sports.
Private Residence with 3 levels
6 bedrooms, 8 baths, 10000 square feet, 930 square meters
King, King, King, King, King, and King
12 guests maximum
Sofia Airport (SPF), Plovdiv Airport (PDV)
2.5 hours by car (SPF), 1.5 hours by car (PDV)
Gorgeous Mountain Views
No Pets Allowed
Not Handicap Accessible
Activities of Interest
- Snow Skiing
- Wine Country
- Visits to the caves Devil’s Throat, Yagodinska Peshtera and Uhlovitza offer challenging and memorable hikes underground
- Kukeri (mummer) Festival in Shiroka Laka in early March draws on pagan beliefs to expel evil and bring in prosperity with dances, masks and bells.
- Orpheus Week at Mount Perelik in July attracts musicians to starlit concert hall built of hay bales amid alpine pastures.
- Gela Festival on the first weekend of August is an open-air concert competition featuring hundreds of bagpipes and singers.
Places of Interest
- Pamporovo ski resort (the second largest in Bulgaria) with more than 20km of ski runs for beginners and intermediate skiers is only 17km away
- The capital Sofia offers a wealth of culture and history: Alexander Nevski Cathedral, St Nicolas Church, the medieval frescos at Boyana (a UNESCO heritage site), and the gold treasures of the Thracian kings in the National History Museum
- The Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak is another unmissable UNESCO heritage site, nestled in the Bulgarian Rose Valley.
- Museum in Chepelare, the history museum of Kardzhali, or gaze at the stars through the telescope of the Rozhen observatory.
Norb O.May 2018
Outstanding! What a beautiful place! Best of all we’re the hosts and guide. All was planned for us. Great tours. Excellent food. Amazing site. We could not be more pleased. ”
With a 70th birthday on the horizon at the beginning of last year, we knew we had to find somewhere special, unique and memorable to celebrate. Villa Gella was all those and then some. At at just over 3.5 hours from Sofia (try to fly to Plovdiv if you can), it is quite a trek, but when you arrive, you quickly realise that it has all been worth it. The Financial Times "How to Spend it" had written that Villa Gella is "the finest house east of the Berlin Wall". You instantly see why. Built into the side of a hill with far-reaching panoramic views, the villa has been beautifully designed and kitted out. The furniture is a fantastic collection of international pieces that have been collected "along the way" and it is so comfortable that we settled in almost immediately. We were greeted with the warmest of welcomes. Alexander and his family could not have been more hospitable. We were treated every day to some fantastic Bulgarian cooking. Mrs. Batchvarov, never without a smile, had us all tasting new things (even the kids!). They source as much as they can as locally as possible and we really got to experience the traditions and dishes of the area. As a family that enjoys it's wine, we were treated to some of the best that Bulgaria has to offer and did not drink anything that had come from the other side of the border all week. We had a different collection of wines each day and Alexander kindly hosted fascinating impromptu tasting one evening that took us through the key Bulgarian wine producing areas. Not very well known, but delicious all the same. With a 40 degree swing in temperature over the space of the first few days, we really got a sense of what the beautiful Rhodope Mountains had to offer. About 30 minutes from the house is Pamporovo. We did not get to fully explore the ski area as we were more focused on getting the young ones on skis for the first time which they thoroughly enjoyed. We had excursions to Plovdiv and walked around the beautiful old town and a real highlight was a trip to The Devil's Throat - one of largest underground waterfalls in the world and a "must" if you get the chance to go. Back at the villa, many hours were spent reading or the in pool and steam room which provide an ideal way to wind down each afternoon. New Year's eve was a very special evening. Not only were we celebrating the aforementioned birthday, but also we were treated to a performance from a local bag-piper who kicked off the celebratory Bulgarian dancing. We were a group of 14 from 70 to 7 months and we, equally, had a great time. I realise that we were very fortunate to have Alexander there as the Christmas holidays provided some fortunate overlap with his plans, but even so, if you are looking for an entirely different experience in a beautiful and incredibly comfortable house in a unique environment, I highly recommend a trip to Villa Gella if you get the opportunity to go.”
We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at beautiful Villa Gella located in the Rhodope mountains of Bulgaria. We’d been searching for a destination that would be a new experience for everyone in our international, well-traveled group of family and friends, and Bulgaria turned out to be an excellent choice. Darina, Dimka and Ivan were warm and gracious hosts, greeting us with traditional Bulgarian hospitality of freshly baked bread (as pretty to look at as it was good to eat), and their own special blend of herbed salt. The villa itself was extremely spacious and comfortable, built with walls of windows in every room that served to showcase breathtaking views of vast expanses of pine forests in the mountains above and valleys below. It offered sumptious linens and ultra-modern fixtures, and successfully blended such disparate items as Chihuily glass and 19th century farm implements like a honeycomb separator and a wool comber. Our visit in late September offered generally pleasant weather. We had one drizzly and one rainy day, but we were quite content to stay indoors in front of the crackling fires, reading books from the well- stocked library, pouring over the villa’s very nice selection of art books illustrating Bulgaria’s rich cultural history, and watching the ever-changing light and mists just outside the door. Darina speaks excellent English and was a great resource in planning our excursions, which included attending a folk music and dance festival in Devlin, exploring Devil’s Throat Cave and the ruins at the ancient Thracian city of Perperikon, and a wonderful day exploring the Old Town section of Plovdiv, Europe’s oldest inhabitated city. Plovdiv is home to numerous beautiful private homes in the Bulgarian Revival style of architecture, many of which have been converted into museums and cultural centers. We also enjoyed visiting the amphitheater and had a fun time dressing up in vintage Bulgarian folk costumes at Retro Photo Old Plovdiv for a memorable souvineer photograph. We agreed that our time there was well worth the two- hour drive. We opted to have breakfast and dinner prepared and served in Villa Gella, and were very pleased we did (it’s worth noting that the two vegans in our party were as happy with their food as were the rest of us). We enjoyed absolutely delicious meals using the freshest ingredients (many from the villa’s own gardens), beautifully presented and perfected paired with wines from our hosts’ international award- winning family vineyards. We also appreciated the extra effort on the part of our hosts to put together a very special 80th birthday celebration, complete with bagpiper and folk dancing, cake and flowers. Darina also went the extra mile (or kilometer) when we needed a car repair, accompanying us to the mechanics and ensuring the repair was done correctly and in a timely manner. Although our visit allowed us the pleasant weather to hike and sightsee, we can easily imagine how enchanting Villa Gella must be during wintertime when blanketed in snow. Its proximity to the Pamporovo ski resort would be wonderful in winter, where there are excellent conditions for beginning and intermediate skiers. Even for those who don’t ski, it’s hard to envision a more beautiful setting to burrow in and enjoy the gorgeous house, delicious food and stunning views. We couldn’t have been more pleased with our experience at Villa Gella, and would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone looking for unique vacation experience.”