By Karen Pasold
On a great bend in the Main River, tucked back in the Odenwald, is Miltenberg, a picturesque town of classic Fachwerkhauser architecture.
Facing the prettiest corner in town is the hotel Weinhaus am Alten Markt, on the Marktplatz, overlooked by a 15th century castle.
This is without a doubt one of the most photographed squares in Germany with its Renaissance fountain dating to 1583.
Fachwerk houses are typical to this wooded northern Bavarian countryside. Large coded squares of timbers were assembled on the ground and hoisted into place with block and tackle, then pegged. Spaces between were filled with stone, plaster or bricks, adding to their unique design and charm.
Am Alten Markt is primarily a wine bar/restaurant with nine rooms to rent. Decoration is very simple, contemporary Germanic built-ins of dark wood. Rooms are tidily kept and pristine in appearance. A few open to the Marktplatz while others hug a small side street. Two very pretty front rooms with oriel windows have French-style furniture and are larger than the rest. Beds are new and have double feather pillows and duvets of down/feather. Gazing out from these rooms one imagines what life was like in the middle ages.
Breakfast is in a timbered room with ladderback chairs with tie-on floral pads. There is no buffet, but guests are served generous enough portions of bread and rolls, croissants, meats, cheeses, soft-boiled eggs and juice at the table. Frau Scheurich, who is extremely warm and welcoming, speaks limited English.
Parking is on the Haupstrasse just across the Platz. The hotel has no restaurant but cold snacks of cheese and homemade Wurst are available.
Weinhaus am Alten Markt is a popular meeting place where locals gather to discuss daily happenings over a glass of wine. At the Stammtisch (table for regular customers) we met a former mayor of Miltenberg who informed us Franken wines are the house specialty.
Travelers who love Rothenburg ob der Tauber, will also enjoy Miltenberg. Testament to its popularity is the proximity of at least six ice cream shops to serve the daily tourist trade and weekend strollers.
Since it is only a 45-minute drive to the Frankfurt Airport, Miltenberg is convenient for the last night in Germany.
• Daily Rates: Singles from 60 DM ($40), doubles to 155 DM ($103). Restaurant. Closed February. Little English spoken. No credit cards.
Contact: Weinhaus am Alten Markt, Marktplatz 185, D-63897 Miltenberg, tel. 09371/5500, fax 09371/65511.
Rating: 13/20 Above Average