‘Spellbinding’: Inside the hobbit-themed hotel deep in an Armenian forest

Jan 2 2023
By Rebecca Ann Hughes with AP

The cottages have round wooden doors painted bright colours and windows set at jaunty angles.

Hidden away in northern Armenia is a magical place where JRR Tolkien fans can live out their Lord of the Rings fantasy.

Deep in the snow-covered forest of Dilijan, two brothers have built a hobbit-style village that welcomes guests from all over the world.

The clutch of cottages is attached to their hobbit-inspired Cozy House hotel, which opened in 2019.

Each cottage of the hobbit village has been carefully crafted to re-create the ambience of the epic Lord of the Rings trilogy.

“I've tried to incorporate my professional expertise into this business,” explains Edgar Gulanyan, one of the brothers who founded the accommodation.

“I made an effort to maintain our distinctive style and uniqueness.”

The cottages have round wooden doors painted bright colours and windows set at jaunty angles.

Inside the village restaurant, the walls are covered with quirky artwork – the scales of a fish are made from old vinyl records while a snail’s shell reveals a hidden magnifying glass.

Sales manager Khachik Hakobyan says staff here wanted to create a unique getaway, not just another mountain retreat.

“The competition in Dilijan was quite high, especially since 2019. We had to think about creating something that would attract tourists. We had to create something that is out of the box and that brings a new style,” he says.

Every gate, door, hinge and window has been specially made to imitate Tolkien’s land of little people.

Cozy House hotel and its cottages attract people looking for something a little unorthodox.

"We wanted something out of the ordinary. This style of the cottage caught our attention,” says guest Marine Petrosyan.

Khachik believes their mission has been a success, attracting visitors from all over the world.

“Many people when learning there is such a place in Dilijan, they visit Armenia especially to stay at this hotel as they are fans of Tolkien’s book and the movie,” he says.

It’s the prospect of being part of a Lord of the Rings story that attracted guest Christina Thomas.

She says children find the village spellbinding.

“I was looking for unique places to stay in Armenia and this came up as one of the number one locations to stay in, and we’ve read these books 'Lord of the Rings', so these little hobbit houses really excited us,” she says.

“[The children] were very excited staying in these little houses.”

In the deep of winter, the fantastical hamlet has become a snowy wonderland, much to the pleasure of the guests.

“All the pictures of the place were very green, because the pictures they've taken were in summer. But you know, now coming here and seeing this whole place in snow… I think we made a very good choice to come in winter," says Christina.

"It looks beautiful, it looks very magical, just like out of a book or a movie.”