Capsule reviews of recent hotel experiences by the Gemütlichkeit staff include the Hotel Alpenruhe in Wengen, Switzerland; a good value near the Zürich rail station; a wonderful small hotel of charm and comfort on the Bodensee (Lake Constance) in Lindau, Germany; and our favorite mid-priced Munich stopover. And, a listing of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites found in Germany.
First seen by Gemütlichkeit in 1993, this three-star property, located a short walk from the village center, remains under the stern but capable generalship of its redoubtable owner, Frau Marion Prevost.
The Alpenruhe is a model of efficiency and the somewhat plain guest and public rooms are immaculately maintained.
Six years ago, we made it an "editors choice," a designation which, based on a three-night August stay, we must now reluctantly withdraw.
Unfortunately, there is a lack of gemütlichkeit at the Alpenruhe. Arriving by train we phoned the hotel and asked to be picked up. The young man who showed up in a little electric truck (no automobiles are allowed in Wengen) was unfriendly to the point of being surly. At the hotel, Frau Prevost, too, gave us a cold greeting. Perhaps it was because we arrived a single hour later than promised. Though we had phoned that morning to inform the Alpenruhe of our changed schedule Frau Prevost insisted she had heard nothing.
The atmosphere thawed somewhat in the course of our stay, but we were never quite comfortable.
The hotel's half-board dinner (28 Sfr./$19) was at best adequate. The first course was a tomato stuffed with bits of Wurst and peas in a creamy sauce. Following a trip to the salad bar, came the main course, a single thin pork chop fried crisp on the outside, though still juicy, accompanied by a baked potato with sour cream sauce. Dessert was a canned pear covered with Jello chocolate pudding.
We had better food on subsequent nights at the hotels Silberhorn and Schönegg. At the latter, we dined in a pleasant room with scrubbed wood tables on perfectly cooked Schnitzel with Spätzle. Accompanied by live music, our late evening meal at the Silberhorn consisted of a fine platter of air-dried meat.
At the price we paid 216 Sfr. ($146) per night total for a single and a double room the Alpenruhe is still a good Wengen choice, just don't expect an open-arms welcome.
• Contact: Hotel Alpenruhe CH-3823, Wengen, tel. +41/033/855 2744, fax 855 2777. Proprietor: Marion Prevost
Daily Rates: Singles 82 to 104 Sfr. ($55-$68), doubles 148 to 208 Sfr. ($100-$141). Half board 28 Sfr. ($19).
Rating: Quality 11/20, Value 15/20
You're on Jeopardy. The category is "Swiss Hotels." The answer is "Hotel Arlette. " Your correct response is "where can I find a decent, not-too-expensive hotel near the Zürich railway station?".
Though we'll save such phrases as "charming," "lovingly restored," and "endearing," for a more appropriate time, the Arlette fills the bill as a Zürich stopover in several ways. For travelers not too burdened with luggage, it is within an easy 10-minute walk of the station. All front desk personnel we encountered on a recent stay were friendly and helpful. Guestrooms, though on the small side, are modern, clean and comfortable. And, of course, the price is right. Midsummer rates are slightly reduced and we paid 195 Sfr. ($132) for a double and 145 Sfr. ($98) for one person in a double room.
The only downer is the skimpy breakfast - no buffet and only a pre-wrapped, plasticky-looking cream cheese. An order of scrambled eggs (6 Sfr./$4), however, was excellent.
• Contact: Hotel Arlette Stampfenbachstrasse 26, CH-8001 Zürich, tel. +41/01/252 0032, fax 252 0923
Daily Rates: Singles 145 to 195 Sfr. ($55-$68), doubles/suites 195 to 450 Sfr. ($132-$304).
Rating: Quality 11/20, Value 13/20
Put this one in the "find" category. The Helvetia combines charm and comfort with a perfect location. It overlooks Lindau's harbor on the Bodensee and is just three minutes walk from the rail station. Even closer is the boarding dock for the steamers which glide around the lake to several German and Swiss towns, even Bregenz in Austria.
The typical guestroom is oversize with a four-poster bed, separate sitting area, walk-in closet with armoire and a bathroom with stall shower and ample counter space.
The Helvetia also has a small indoor swimming pool and a fitness room with steambath and sauna. its restaurant - which we did not try - extends to an outdoor terrace with lake view.
We paid 190 Sfr. ($104) for our spacious double room, a bargain considering the hotel's location in the heart of one of Germany's most popular and delightful resorts.
• Contact: Hotel Helvetia Seepromenade, D-88131 Lindau, tel. +49/08382/91 30, fax 4004.
Daily Rates: Singles 80 to 175 DM ($44-$96), doubles 160 to 290 DM ($88-$159). Half-board 33 DM ($18)
Rating: Quality 14/20, Value 15/20
Another longtime, moderately-priced Gemütlichkeit recommendation.
Comparing the Kraft to the Arlette in Zürich demonstrates the difference in mid-range hotel prices between these two cities.
Our double at the Arlette was about $132, good value for Zürich. At the Kraft, where rooms are larger and doubles have a small sitting area with comfortable sofa, we paid $88.
There are a few minor differences. Breakfast at the Kraft - a buffet - is better. The Arlette, which is closer to the Zürich rail station than the Kraft is to Munich's Bahnhof, has been more recently redone, while furnishings at the Kraft are looking a little dated.
Guests are treated with warmth and friendliness by Helga Kraft and her staff.
• Contact: Hotel Kraft Schillerstr. 49, D-80336, Munich, tel. +49/089/594823-24 fax 5503856. Proprietor: Helga Kraft
Daily Rates: Singles 140 to 180 DM ($77-$99), doubles 160 to 240 DM ($88-$132).
Rating: Quality 13/20, Value 15/20
Germany's World Heritage Sites
UNESCO's World Heritage Committee publishes a list of "cultural and natural properties, considered to be of outstanding universal value."
One of the main responsibilities of the committee is to "provide technical cooperation under the World Heritage Fund for the safeguarding of World Heritage properties to States Parties whose resources are insufficient."
• 1978 Aachen Cathedral
• 1981 Speyer Cathedral
• 1981 Würzburg Residence, Court Gardens and Residence Square
• 1983 Pilgrimage Church of Wies
• 1984 The Castles of Augustusburg and Falkenlust at Brühl
• 1985 St. Mary's Cathedral and St. Michael's Church at Hildesheim
• 1986 Roman Monuments, Cathedral and Liebfrauen-Church in Trier
• 1987 Hanseatic City of Lübeck
• 1991 Abbey and Altenmünster of Lorsch
• 1993 Town of Bamberg
• 1993 Maulbronn Monastery Complex
• 1994 Collegiate Church, Castle, and Old Town of Quedlinburg
• 1994 Völklingen Ironworks
• 1995 Messel Pit Fossil site
• 1996 Cologne Cathedral
• 1998 Classical Weimar