Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Southwest Germany's Hotels Impress the Most Discriminatory

Little surprise the land of Mercedes-Benz and Porsche is a land of luxury. Located in Germany’s most southwestern region, let’s begin in Stuttgart (the capital of the state of Baden-Württenberg), travel along Castle Road, wend through the Black Forest and always lodge in the best.
Having recently traveled this route, here are my first-hand recommendations:
Mövenpick Airport Hotel, Stuttgart – After a lengthy overseas flight, “luxury” can be defined as simply as a short walk from the airport’s arrival hall to the across-the-street lobby of the Mövenpick Airport Hotel. But once inside the door and greeted by 120-year-old olive trees named Oliva and Olivo, its thoughtful details erase any negative conjectures linked to its airport proximity. Among its pampered appointments are decoratory Black Forest touches. Like surround-sound, you’ll see contemporary cuckoo clocks, stag deer details and a substantial lion’s head door knocker, which adorns each room door and is available for purchase (along with much of the decor). A guest favorite is the whimsical addition of a beside-each-tub yellow rubber duck (6,000 are guest gifts annually). Additional embellishments include do-it-yourself shoe shine machines by each floor’s elevator, complimentary morning smoothies and – my personal favorite – Mövenpick (yes, like the hotel name) ice cream.   
Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa, Baden-Baden – Situated alongside Lichtentaler Allee riverside park on the banks of the Oos River, this is the setting of this spa-city’s lavish, five-star legend. Known for its 140-plus-year reputation as a historical timepiece, it shares a locale with yesterday’s elite – from Napoleon III to Queen Victoria to the Russian author, Fyodor Dostoevsky. Upon entering the lobby, the scene unfolds like soft linen. It is warm, it is welcoming, it is five-star. Its latest addition (open January 15, 2015) is Villa Stephanie, the hotel’s spa retreat said to offer Europe’s most refined spa concept for the 21st century and newly known for its digital detox program. For the beluga set, there’s Brenners Park-Restaurant. Not a single knife or shallot out of place, it deliciously showcases the creations of Chef Paul Stradner, the recipient of two Michelin stars.
Hôtel Belle Époque, Baden-Baden – Though on a smaller scale, an evening in this former 1874 villa projects elegance. Lovingly restored, it is furnished with original furniture from the “Belle Epoque” period with such styles as Empire, Louis XIV, Victorian and Art Nouveau. Like visiting a museum, its 20 villa rooms and suites are individual replicas of the past, with such choices as the Mozart Room (my selection) and Empire Suite (the sometime home-away-from-home of Placido Domingo).
Europäischer Hof, Heidelberg – This fourth generation, family-owned, five-star period hotel celebrates 150 years of continuing hospitality this year. Managed by family member, Dr. Caroline von Kretschmann, its guest list includes such notables as Queen Victoria, Winston Churchill and popular pop stars (sorry, I can’t identify those guest names). Once I was ushered into the lobby, I mentally repacked, with the imaginary inclusion of an evening gown for this is a hotel where a man can still wear a blazer and fit in. But it is Europäischer Hof’s at-your-service attitude that is most impressive, evidenced by Dr. von Kretschmann’s statement: “Our goal is to create a place where people have happy moments.”
Hotel Alemannenhof, Titisee – Though a four-star family operation, when compared to others, this lodge of luxury projects a different vibe. Whereas Brenners is exclusive and elegant, Hotel Alemannenhof is cozy and casual. Sitting east to west on the beach of Lake Titisee, guests have a ringside seat to sunrise on one end of the hotel and sunset on the other. Signage above the lobby door translates to “Enter and be happy,” the immediate impression guests receive upon meeting owner and general manager Thomas Drubba, whose culinary background is additionally ever present, especially in its cross-over seasonal menu (our meal started with glazed pork belly and ended with nougat mousse and cassis sorbet). Caution: Wait till day’s end to return to your room, because once you are in it, you may never want to leave. No two rooms are alike, but my recommendation is the top-level rectangular penthouse suite that stretches from one end of the hotel to other, providing the perfect nook for an I-don’t-have-anything-to-do visit.
Photos by Cynthia Dial

Wald & Schlosshotel Friedrichsruhe, Hohenlohe region – As the former summer residence of the Hohenlohe royal family, this 18th century, parkland-surrounded castle is home to such exclusive inclusions as an award-winning spa and a 1-star Michelin restaurant (example of excellence: foam soup of lobster with fried scallop). Repeatedly named Germany’s best wellness hotel, The Spa is known for its own skincare line, fashioned from grapes. My late-March experience was incomparable: a toasty soak in the outdoor pool during a light dusting of snow.  Final assessment – magical.

Published in by Cynthia Dial

#travel #traveltips #travelingcynthia #southwestgermany #hotels

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