The Best of '93

Hotel of the Year

Naming the best hotel of 1993 is about the toughest call we've ever had to make. So were going to duck the issue and let the Austrian country hotel, Grüner Baum, and Interlaken's Grand Hotel Victoria-Jungfrau share Gemütlichkeit "Hotel of the Year" honors.

The latter takes its place with the Beau Rivage Palace in Lausanne and Leukerbad's Les Sources des Alpes as our all-time favorite Swiss hotels, and the former is simply the best country hotel we've ever seen.

An immense and extravagant new Art Deco spa, two top-notch restaurants, various intimate little corners for relaxing with a book, a drink - or both - impeccable guestrooms and a sure, smooth staff, place the Victoria-Jungfrau about as close to perfection as any hotel we've experienced. Plus, on a clear day the windows of your room are likely to frame that awesome peak, the Jungfrau.

While the V. J. is chic and elegant the Grüner Baum is more homey and country, though no less luxurious. Its several buildings are clustered in a private Alpine meadow just outside the old Austrian spa town of Badgastein. Craggy, forested peaks look down on the setting and a pristine mountain stream tumbles through the 175-acre grounds.

Naturally, there are tennis courts, indoor and outdoor pools, a beauty treatment center and indoors a huge fireplace where a whole pig is occasionally spit roasted.

Guests at both establishments are assured a hotel experience that is the finest Europe has to offer.

Though we reported on a number of other excellent hotels in 1993, the Victoria-Jungfrau (double rooms from about $225 to $375, breakfast not included) and the Grüner Baum (doubles from about $140 to $325, including breakfast and lunch or dinner) were in a class by themselves. Here are some of the other outstanding hotel properties we reviewed this year:

Hotel Kronenhof

A very grand, five-star hotel in a small mountain village. Less expensive than the top hotels of nearby St. Moritz. Stunning views across the river. Beautifully decorated and furnished with Neo-Rococo paintings, Gobelin valances, Art Nouveau ceilings, priceless antique furnishings. Has its own winery.

Grand Hotel Kronenhof CH-7504 Pontresina, phone 082-6 01 11, fax 082/660 66. Least expensive double about $235. Major Cards. Rating: V

Golf-Hotel Rasmushof

Lovely, varied guest rooms, several with fireplaces, highlight this outstanding mid-priced golf resort hotel. Most have good views of the pretty little nine-hole golf course. Play golf from May to October.

Golf-Hotel Rasmushof Ried-Ecking 16, A-6370 Kitzbühel, phone 05356/52 52, fax 05356/5252-49. Least expensive doubles are about $200. Major cards. Rating: III

Villa Solitude

One of Austria's newest castle hotels and registered as an historic monument. Site of the signing of the Gasteiner treaty between Bismarck and Count Andrassy. Owned by the Blumschein family, owners of the Grüner Baum. The six-room Solitude's Brasserie serves excellent food.

Villa Solitude, Kaiser Franz Joseph Strasse 16, A-5640 Badgastein, telephone 06434 5101/5102, fax 06434 5101-3. Least expensive doubles are about $200. Major cards. Hotel Rating: IV Restaurant Rating: P

Schlosshotel Chastè

Knotty pine walls and ceilings, hardwood floors, in-room fireplaces and luxurious bathrooms make several of the Chastè's guestrooms some of the most richly attractive we have ever seen. The "Panorama Suite," is absolutely stunning with a cathedral, beamed ceiling, fireplace, and big marble bathroom with under exposed wood joists and wide skylight.

About 15 minutes by car up the mountain from Scuol beneath Tarasp Castle. Run by the Pazeller family for 500 years. The restaurant is among the country's top 100 according to Weltwoche.

Schlosshotel Chastè CH-7553 Tarasp-Sparsels, phone 081 864 17 75, fax 081 864 99 70. Least expensive double 250 Sfr. ($170), Including breakfast and dinner. Major cards. Rating: IV

Also among the best of 1993 were the Romantikhotel Tennerhof in Kitzbühel and the Albergo Gardenia, near Lugano. Please refer to "G" Awards on page 1.

December 1993