Aeolus is a place to relax, a place for children to play in the sun-kissed village square, a place for casual communal living, for creating lifelong memories of grilling fresh fish in the courtyard, for paddling in the crystalline cove, for bicycling on tracks meandering amongst ancient olive trees. It's a place you won't forget.
Cottage Aeolus is hundreds of years old, with meter-thick stone walls that keep it mostly cool without AC, and it has been built and rebuilt many times to reach its present state.
The cottage is in Mala (Little) Rudina, a protected "ethno-eco" village of a few dozen old stone houses at the end of a meandering track on top of a hill above Stari Grad. Mala Rudina is so small that you won’t find it in Google Maps; nevertheless, you can follow Google Street View past Vela (Big) Rudina and around to the right, all the way to our village square, to see what our little village looks like. In our opinion, it is pitch perfect, surrounded by ancient shuttered stone houses, with pride of place given to an old wine press and the base stones of two old grape presses. In the evenings, this charming tableau is bathed in the soft yellow light of the single village lamp, perched atop a narrow stone column. You most likely won’t hear anything at night in Mala Rudina other than the cicadas, your own voices, and perhaps the neighbor’s occasional blues harmonica. The silence, as they say, is deafening, though it will break in the morning as the village and its surroundings awake, and you may even hear a rooster crowing.
Cottage Aeolus is pefect for those who enjoy simple, informal, communal country living.
It’s not posh, and you won’t find much chrome, glass or luxurious touches; the main materials are stone and wood, and the emphasis is on clean, practical functionality and community. If there were an overriding design theme, it would be Scandi simplicity. The open-plan bedrooms and the wooden floors don’t offer a huge amount of privacy, but they do catalyze an informal togetherness for family or friends that we’ve found makes for memorable holidays.
The cottage works for three families, but it’s probably better for two, maybe with a set of grandparents in tow, or perhaps for three or four couples or a group of friends. There are 15 good quality mattresses of which 12 are on raised custom-built beds or platforms and the remaining three are on their sides behind them in the attic and the ground floor. But while there are 15 mattresses, any more than 12 people in the house will be a tight fit, and it’s probably ideal at eight or ten. That’s not to say that your friends who want to drive down and join you in the house for a long weekend shouldn’t. They should. But with more than 12 or so people for more than a few days you’re going to be packed in too tightly for comfort. Also, please bear in mind that while all the rooms have air-conditioning units and ceiling fans, you might still sweat a bit if you’re a big group, because there are only three bathrooms in total. There’s also a grilling area in the courtyard, a full kitchen on the ground floor with a wine fridge and an ice-maker, and a second smaller kitchen with a small fridge in the attic flat. And finally, there are also more throw pillows than you’ve imagined in your worst Martha Stewart nightmares.
The views from the house are stupendous. All of the windows look out across the wonderfully fragrant Hvar island landscape and the idyllic village of Mala Rudina. The higher floors have sea views over the Kabal peninsula and to the north across to the island of Brač. The large courtyard is in front of the house. It’s a great place to relax and lazily while away your holidays with wine and a book while enjoying the slow pace of Dalmatian island life.The courtyard includes a little storage house and there is also a much-loved outdoor shower in the courtyard, two ancient cypress trees that frequently fill with chattering birds, a nascent lavender garden, and a kitchen garden that includes the ubiquitous Dalmatian olive tree, as well as bay, rosemary, sage, oregano and other herbs.
The Ground Floor
This floor is the house’s common area and a meeting place for meals. It’s paved in rough local stone, and has a picnic table like the two in the courtyard, as well as an old Bohemian farm bench, a smaller table, and some mobile folding seats from an old Prague cinema. The style can best be called country-flexible funky or maybe just "we-have-no-design-sense-whatsoever." There are way too many types of wood on the ground floor, including refinished 1950’s Bohemian kitchen cabinets mixed with Ikea benches. The only chic elements on the ground floor are the brown paper shades on the countertop lights, made by owner's 80 year-old mother. The kitchen counters are natural Brač stone (Pertinent Trivia Point: the same stone used in the White House in Washington, DC), 300-guage stainless with end-grain maple butcher block (do not use the kitchen butcher block for fresh fish please), and there are plenty of pots & pans, plates, glasses and utensils stowed away behind the large sliding panels. Owner is very sorry for the mismatched glasses and preserve jars, as he is aware that they’re a tired hipster cliché. The kitchen has a dishwasher, electric hobs, a stove and microwave, a countertop blender that makes great crushed ice drinks, a wine fridge, and a large under-counter freezer. There is also a separate countertop ice maker, an immersion blender and a Cuisinart, and I’m pretty sure there’s an ice-cream maker around somewhere, a pasta-making thingamajig, as well as lots of forms for home-made popsicles that the kids love. Here you will find all the kit that you’ll need for good coffee, whether stove-top Bialetti or pour-over, as well as a Hario kettle, a scale and an antique grinder. There is a washer and a dryer … though we rarely use the latter, since besides the energy saved, there’s nothing quite like sun-kissed and wind-dried laundry. (There’s a second washer in the attic flat if you need the extra capacity.) There’s also a large sink with an astoundingly poorly located faucet and a full bathroom with a tub, used mostly by whoever’s staying on the first floor. Owner left the big sliding panels natural wood for now, because he hasn’t been able to make up his mind if he should paint them white like the cabinet doors, blue like the room doors, black like the wrought iron, or leave them natural … and he will be grateful for your input to break the impasse. There’s a wobbly ceiling fan and a not wobbly air-conditioning unit. What there is not, however, is an in-sink waste disposer, so please don’t dump anything down the sink drains that you don’t want to be wading in later, as feedback from plugging up the grey-water pipe to the septic tank is merciless and quick … and that goes for flushing anything other than toilet paper down the toilet too, as our little cutesy-pootsie signs hopefully make clear. Please also don’t wear shoes above the first floor, and leave them on the landing or the ground floor. Another thing cottage does not have is an extractor hood, partly because the aforementioned cooktop is located between a door and a window, but mostly because the hole in the thick stone wall just above the cooktop turns out to be too low. But you’ll be fine with an open window and door.
The First Floor
We consider the first floor the kids’ area, though it can, has been and will be used for families and various other adult friends as well. There’s a natural pine floor and a large sleeping platform made from the same wood, finished with a food-safe natural OSMO wax and oil finish. The sleeping platform, inspired by Bohemian mountain cabins, has reading lights and three mattresses that can be positioned together or apart depending on how you want to sleep and how cozy you are with your roommates. There’s a big central area with a Fat Boy style beanbag where kids can play or you can relax. On the opposite wall is a sofa made from three mattresses that can be arranged as needed. In theory, up to six children could sleep on this floor, though everyone would likely be happier if they didn’t. All the beds, sofas and sleeping platforms, like most of the fit-out, were custom made onsite by our carpenters to a simple, functional design that provides ample ventilation for the mattresses. The first floor shares the ground floor bathroom, and also includes a large curtained-in storage area for all the towels (including beach towels), sheets, blankets, and other soft furnishings that you’ll need … as well as for your own things. In the hall there’s a large walk-in storage closet where you’ll find more snorkeling gear and beach toys than you can shake a stick at, as well as a huge assortment of Legos, wooden blocks, and plenty of other toys for younger kids.
The Second Floor
The second floor is more adult and done in a hopefully more chic adult style than the first floor, with white wooden floors and adult art on the walls. (No, no the kind of adult art you’re thinking about.) It includes a bathroom with a large walk-in shower enclosure tiled in Brac stone and has a double sink. It has two bedrooms: One has a king-sized bed made from two separate mattresses. (All the mattresses in the house are 90 x 200 cm. It makes buying sheets and soft furnishings a heck of a lot easier.) This bedroom has direct access to the bathroom. The other bedroom has two single beds, albeit they could be pushed together if you need some nocturnal closeness, and it has access to the same bathroom as the other via the second-floor landing. The white-washed pine flooring from this floor on up is sensitive to both dirt and scuffs, so we usually walk in bare feet. There’s also a reading lamp and some antique upholstered chairs, a stylish rack made to our design for hanging clothes, an old poplar chest from the 1800’s, and a coffee table made from an antique sled - wildly out of place on a warm Mediterranean island.
The Third Floor
The "penthouse" floor is more self-contained than the others, and has the only lockable inside door in the house (other than the bathrooms, of course). It’s where the owner stays when he is in the house, and it's his favourite floor, where the whole family can be together in one big room. This floow has a second kitchen with a massive beechwood countertop and undershelf LED lighting. The bed platform is lit by Artemide Tolomeo articulated lamps, and is designed to sleep three in close proximity or two with a lot of extra space. There’s also a sofa-cum-additional sleeping area for two with a large and motley collection of pillows, including Zimbabwe wax prints that you’ll find a lot of throughout the house. There’s a second washing machine on this floor, and an elegant but small bathroom, also tiled in Brač stone, with an overhead rain showerhead that splashes way too much and will be way too low for Andre the Giant. The attic flat has the previously mentioned incredible views: you can see over to Brač island, to the morning sun in the east, and over Stari Grad bay to the setting sun in the west. The little fridge is perfect to keep your sundowner ingredients chilled and there’s a well-curated if dated iPod on an Apple sound-dock. You can make a little breakfast on the cooktop before coming downstairs to join the rest of the gang, but - if you want - you can cook a full meal up here too. There are a couple of low tables, two upholstered stools that one grandmother used to have in her Prague boudoir, a Cameroonian 5-legged stool, and it’s all lit by a 50’s light fixture between the two modern ceiling fans to keep things dissonant.
Who should come to the Aeolus cottage? Nice folk. Families. Groups of friends. Anyone who likes good food. People who enjoy fresh fish. Those who love peace and quiet and who enjoy beautiful, simple, natural surroundings and swimming in the sea. Families who like to explore rather than to sit by the pool, and maybe have a pet or two in tow. (Please keep in mind that pets are only allowed on the ground floor, so if your pets need to sleep in your room or in your bed, we unfortunately won’t be able to accommodate you in this cottage.) If you like hand-painted crockery but don’t mind if it’s chipped, and if you like good wine, but don’t mind if the glasses don’t match. If this resonates, you’ll probably like it here.
Enjoy Aeolus. Close your eyes, feel the breeze and listen to the sound of silence.