Muhu. Doesn’t sound much does it? And in truth, size-wise it isn’t.

It’s situated in one of those three ex-Eastern Bloc countries that now comprise the Baltic States (the other two are Latvia and Lithuania).

Occupying the eastern edge of the Baltic Sea, south of Finland and east of Sweden, Estonia was, as far as I was concerned, only good for one thing: ‘Hello Dublin, and here are the results of the Estonian jury’.

And indeed, this association with the Eurovision phenomenon was what first lured me past its geographical borders.

I was intrigued, you see, as to why a country only recently free of its Soviet masters would so readily embrace something so whimsical (I have no such excuse).

Yet the answer, sadly, was all too obvious; the years of Communist rule had been more than cruel.

In Tallinn for instance, the country’s capital, people eagerly dragged me (and that is the very word) to the offices of what were once the city’s KGB headquarters.

One elderly woman told me: “They spied on us all and expected us to do the same – with our families, our friends, our neighbours. It was terrible.”

Little wonder then that when the chance came, the country lunged feverishly at an institution so cheesy and crass, it had ‘capitalism’ stamped all over it.

And mighty fine competitors they have proved too (in 2001, they actually topped the singing competition with their winning entry Everybody).

But, as you might expect, there is so much more to Estonia than gaudy outfits and frothy lyrics – and Muhu is a prime example.

An island – there are in fact about 1,500 islands in Estonia with Muhu being one of the largest – it boasts that single favourite item of all travel brochures - sleepy fishing villages.

But don’t panic; Muhu is as far away from tour operators’ schedules as the Russian Mafia is from charitable donations.

It remains, amazingly, an unspoilt idyll of fields, forests and wetlands, inhabited predominantly by foxes, moose and deer. And of course, the odd Estonian (about 2,000 of them).

An hour-and-a-half drive out of Tallinn, plus a 30-minute ferry ride, and you alight upon its shores.

I was there to visit its only luxury hotel, Padaste Manor, a stunning country manor that, on the day I arrived, was celebrating.

Its flagship restaurant, the Alexander, had just won ‘Estonia’s Best Restaurant’ title for its innovative twist on traditonal Nordic cuisine (and dining there later that evening, it was easy to understand why).

Padaste Manor is what is called a ‘Destinational Hotel’ – somewhere you travel to specifically, as much for its facilities as its location. Which means this hotel IS the holiday.

And while normally this would prove a huge turn-off (I visited one such hotel earlier this year on the banks of the Dead Sea and hated it), I in fact found myself ordering a large slice of crow pie later that evening after I’d toured the grounds and settled into my room.

Usually, hotels feature only in the factfile at the end of these articles, but Padaste deserves further consideration, because it and Muhu are frankly a package deal; ie, you’d be mad not to explore Muhu when staying at Padaste, and crazy not to stay at Padaste when visiting Muhu.

Which, I suppose, raises the million dollar question – would I travel all the way to Estonia, hire a car, and drive down to Muhu, taking the ferry, just to stay for three or four days at Padaste?

Well, on this singular occasion, yes, I would.

For starters, amid its sprawling landscaped gardens, you’ll not hear a mobile phone, a car, a tv, a radio and even the birds seem only to start chirping at an appointed time. If ever you’ve wanted to step off the world, re-focus and rediscover, this is the place to do it.

But architecture and geography alone don’t make a hotel worth visiting. The staff and ancillary distractions/comforts have to be outstanding too. And here they are. The service is superb (if Kristel serves you, you’ll know you’ve ‘arrived’) and for those who love spas, this one comes pretty close to perfect.

Or just do what I did – take out the rowing boat at the end of the jetty and slowly drift over to ‘Love Island’ (yes, that’s its name).

As for Muhu, try to imagine a land untouched by the last 100 years; a world of vast, sprawling meadows, craggy coastlines, deserted beaches, and nothing but the whisper of a breeze.

Sign me up now for a correspondent’s course in romantic writing (guilty as charged), but until then, cut me a little slack.

Muhu is great. Great for cycling, picnicking, walking, horse riding, swimming, rowing and whatever else you can do with legs, arms and a little spirit. And if you can find time to unearth the beauties of Vilsandi National Park on the neighbouring island of Saaremaa (joined to Muhu by a causeway), do. It’s breathtaking.

And that I guess marks the end of today’s lesson. Go online, check out Estonia, Tallinn, Muhu, the works, and then book. Winter or summer, they’re the perfect escape.

Travel facts: offer a three-night stay in Padaste Manor ( on a bed and breakfast basis in a double room with private transfer to and from the Manor, from Tallinn, or alternatively car hire for three days, including flights to Tallinn from Stansted, in September from £575 per person. Baltic holidays can also offer Padaste as part of a tailor-made package including Tallinn, St. Petersburg and the other Baltic States.

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