Gemütlichkeit's 12th year ends with our usual review of the best of the past 11 months.

This issue marks the end of 12 years for Gemütlichkeit. In each of the previous 11 years we have devoted most of our December issue to a review of what impressed us most during the past year: the best, the worst, the best values, the friendliest, sometimes even the weirdest.

What we always look for are those hotels, restaurants, and other places where one finds just a little extra in the way of hospitality and warmth.

In 1998, our five reporters (see Dear Subscriber) saw Mayrhofen, Lienz, Vienna, and the Tirolean countryside in Austria; Berlin, Göttingen, Lindau, Würzburg, and the Mosel and Ahr valleys in Germany; and Bern, Locarno, Pontresina, and Lausanne in Switzerland. There was also a report on Strasbourg in France.

So again this month, we highlight the places we recommend most highly from those visited during the past year.

Top Hotels

"Hotel of the Year"

Schlosshotel Vier Jahreszeiten

Berlin, Germany.

The photo at the wire for the Gemütlichkeit's "Hotel of the Year," involving the Schlosshotel and Lausanne's Beau Rivage Palace, showed a dead heat. But, since the Beau Rivage has been reviewed twice before, the nod goes to the German entry.

Many believe the Schlosshotel Vier Jahreszeiten to be Germany's best hotel. We won't argue. Built early this century in Berlin's Grunewald section for Kaiser Wilhelm's personal attorney, the house has since had a series of owners, was abused in two world wars, and finally wound up in the 70s and 80s as an unpretentious small hotel. But enter German designer Karl Lagerfeld, backed by steamer trunks full of Deutsche Mark (nearly $600,000 per guest room was spent), and you have another of what this city is all about these days; a miraculous transformation.

Schlosshotel (now marketed by Ritz Carlton) has it all: gated, walled grounds, precious works of art, eye-popping public rooms, sumptuous guest rooms. Disregard what you hear about the Adlon; in Berlin, Schlosshotel Vier Jahreszeiten is Numbah one, baby.

Daily Rates: Singles 545 to 675 DM ($326-$404), doubles 595 to 725 DM ($356-$434)
Contact: Schlosshotel, Brahmsstrasse 10, D-14193 Berlin, tel. +49/030/895 840, fax 8958 4800
Rating: Quality 19.5/20, Value 13/20

Beau Rivage Palace

Lausanne, Switzerland

We sometimes foolishly use words like "elegant" and "luxurious" when describing very good - or even better than very good - hotels. But that gets us into a bind when it comes to the genuine article. So let's put it this way, as far as Gemütlichkeit is concerned, in Germany, Austria or Switzerland, they don't get any posher or more luxurious than the Beau Rivage Palace. Like the Schlosshotel Vier Jahreszeiten, the BRP has the whole package: lush grounds, great guest rooms, fabulous public areas. Except, with 174 rooms vs. the Schlosshotel's 52, it's a bigger package; grander ballrooms, more acreage, multiple restaurants, etc.

While we're at it, we will repeat again the BRPs special rate for Gemütlichkeit readers. From now through March 31, you get a 20% discount on regular rooms and 10% off lake-view rooms. Book directly with the hotel. Do not reserve through a travel agent or via the hotel's toll-free U.S. reservation number. When calling or faxing, mention you are a Gemütlichkeit subscriber.

Daily Rates: Singles 340 to 550 Sfr. ($250-$404), doubles 395 to 650 Sfr. ($290-$478), junior suites from 810 ($601), suites from 1650 Sfr. ($1213). Breakfast is 32 Sfr. ($24).
Contact: Beau Rivage Palace CH-1000 Lausanne-Ouchy 6, tel. +41/021/613 3333, fax 613 3334. Book from the U.S. at 800-223-6800.
Rating: Quality 19.5/20, Value 13/20

Hotel Innere Enge

Bern, Switzerland

A hotel dedicated to hospitable service and music. In addition to high quality furnishings and decor, all rooms display pieces from the hotel owner's collection of jazz memorabilia, be it a Dizzy Gillespie hologram or a framed letter written by Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong (Room Number one). The hotel has a basement jazz club that books first-rate talent.

At Innere Enge, now just six years old, manager Jacqueline Kaderli, ensures you'll get an extraordinarily warm welcome plus Bern's best combination of hospitality, charm, guestroom comfort, and value. Ten minutes from the city center by public transport or a 25-minute walk.

Daily Rates: Singles 140 to 210 Sfr. ($103-$154), doubles 200 to 270 Sfr. ($147-$199)
Contact: Innere Enge Engestrasse 54, CH-3012, tel. +41/31/3096111, 3096112
Rating: Quality 17/20, Value 13/20

Belle Epoque

Bern, Switzerland

The theme at this tiny, rather unique hotel in Bern's old town is Jugendstil (a.k.a. Art Nouveau or Secessionist), a style that became popular around the turn of the century - the "Belle Epoque." Public and guest rooms are liberally endowed with Marina and Dr. Phillippe D. Ledermann-Puigventos's magnificent collection of Jugendstil art and antiques. The tiny bar displays an original Toulouse Lautrec poster.

Rooms are small but beautifully done.

Daily Rates: Singles 165 to 200 Sfr. ($121-$147), doubles 220 to 285 Sfr. ($162-$210)
Contact: Belle Epoque-Garni Gerechtigkeitsgasse 18, CH-3011, tel. +41/31/311 43 36, fax 311 39 36
Rating: Quality 15/20, Value 11/20

Hotel Saratz

Pontresina, Switzerland

The laid-back, rejuvenated Saratz impressed us with its caring, friendly staff, contrasting architectural styles (Victorian and 1990s Art Nouveau), excellent food in both restaurants, and a breezy, un-stuffy ambiance. Most guestrooms have fine mountain views and one could sit all day in front of the fireplace in the wide-open, halogen-lit, wood, slate and stone salon-bar. We prefer the new wing.

The Saratz deserves also to be on our "value hotels" list.

Pontresina, as you may know, has loads more charm than its famous, very-near neighbor, St. Moritz.

Daily Rates: Singles 110 to 178 Sfr. ($81-$131), doubles 180 to 318 Sfr. ($132-$234). Breakfast included.
Contact: Hotel Saratz Via Maistra, CH-7504 Pontresina, tel. +41/081/839 4000, fax 839 4040. email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Proprietor: Adrian Stalder
Rating: Quality 16/20, Value 13/20

Hotel Orselina

Locarno, Switzerland

The genteel, understated manner of its owner, Alberto Amstutz, sets the tone at Orselina. First impressions are very good but not overwhelming. But once in your room you catch your breath at the stunning view of lake and mountains. And, as the hours and days, if you're lucky wear on, the Orselina begins to grow on you. At the end of your stay, you realize you've experienced one of Switzerland's finest hotels.

Magnificent hillside location, beautiful gardens and grounds, fine restaurant, comfortable guestrooms, and, most of all, the warm hospitality, qualify the Orselina for our list of 1998 "best" hotels.

Daily Rates: Singles 180 Sfr. ($132), doubles 310 to 362 Sfr. ($228-$266), suite 452 Sfr. ($332). For half board add 24 Sfr. ($18) per day. Parking in garage 10 Sfr ($7), covered lot, 7 Sfr. ($5), outdoor 4.50 Sfr. ($3).
Contact: Hotel Orselina CH-6644 Orselina, tel. +41/091/735 44 44, fax 735 44 66, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Rating: Quality 18/20 Value 12/20

Klosterschenke

Trier, Germany

An 800 year-old former monastery whose 11 lovely rooms feature high ceilings, hardwood floors, exposed beams, and ornate moldings. Just south of Trier. A wonderful bargain.

Daily Rates: Singles 100 DM ($60), doubles 165 DM ($99). Closed January.
Contact: Klosterschenke Klosterstr. 10, D-54293 Trier-Pfalzel, tel. +49/0651/6089, fax 64313
Rating: Quality 17/20, Value 15/20

Value Hotels

Haidenhof Gasthof Hotel

Lienz, Austria

In Lienz, south of Austria's famed Grossglockner, is this comfortable, family-operated hotel with views of the Dolomites.

Daily Rates: Singles 470 to 625 AS ($40-$53), doubles 940 to 1250 AS ($80-$106).
Contact: Haidenhof Gasthof Hotel Grafendorfstrasse 12, A-9900 Lienz, tel. +43/04852/62440 fax 62440-6. Proprietor: Kreissl family
Rating: Quality 14/20, Value 16/20

Gästehaus Martha

Mayrhofen, Austria

Nine immaculately-maintained, newly-decorated rooms - some with great valley views - in the Tirolean resort of Mayrhofen in Austria's Ziller Valley. Extraordinary bargain.

Daily Rates: Singles 260 to 310 AS ($22-$26), doubles 520 to 620 AS ($44-$53)
Contact: Karl and Martha Felbermayr, Gästehaus Martha Durst 267, A-6290 Mayrhofen, tel./fax +43 5285/62324
Rating: Quality 13/20, Value 17/20

Art Nouveau Hotel-Pension

Berlin, Germany

Great Berlin bargain in a very desirable neighborhood. Nicely decorated, large, high-ceilinged rooms.

Daily Rates: Singles 155 DM ($93), doubles 180 DM ($108), suite 210 DM ($126). Prices are about 20% higher during trade fairs and conventions.
Contact: Art Nouveau Leibnizstr. 59, D-10629 Berlin, tel. +49/030/327 7440, fax 327 744 40.
Rating: Quality 16/20, Value 16/20

Luisenhof

Berlin, Germany

Elegant townhouse near Berlin's Mitte (east Berlin). Special weekend rates.

Daily Rates: Singles 175 to 290 DM ($105-$174), doubles 210 to 290 DM ($126-$174). Weekends 175 DM ($105) single, 185 DM ($111) double.
Contact: Hotel Luisenhof, Köpenicker Strasse 92, 10179 Berlin (Berlin-Mitte), tel. +49/030/2415906, fax 2792983
Rating: Quality 17/20, Value 15/20

Domus

Berlin, Germany

Excellently-located, business-oriented hotel only five minutes walk from Ku'damm; one of western Berlin's better values.

Daily Rates: Singles 139 to 165 DM ($83-$99), doubles 198 to 265 DM ($119-$159).
Contact: Hotel Domus, Uhlandstrasse 49, 10719 Berlin, (Berlin-Wilmersdorf), tel. +49/030/8803440, fax 88034444
Rating: Quality 14/20, Value 15/20

Gendarm

Berlin, Germany

Best east Berlin location on Gendarmenmarkt. Let's hope prices stay low after planned exterior refurbishment. Try rooms 37 or 33.

Daily Rates: Singles 140 to 160 DM ($84-$96), doubles 150 to 180 DM ($90-$108), suites 200 DM ($120)
Contact: Hotel Gendarm Charlottenstrasse 60, 10117 Berlin, (Berlin-Mitte), tel. +49/030/2044626, fax 2082482
Rating: Quality 13/20, Value 16/20

Stadt Hannover

Göttingen, Germany

Hospitable, comfortable and only a 2-3 minute walk from main rail station in university town of Göttingen.

Daily Rates: Singles 98 to 128 DM ($59-$77), doubles 145 to 185 DM ($87-$111).
Contact: Stadt Hannover Goethe-Allee 21, D-37073 Göttingen, tel +49/0551/45957, fax 45470.
Rating: Quality 14/20, Value 15/20

Hotel Petrisberg

Trier, Germany

Longtime Gemütlichkeit favorite in an idyllic setting on a hill above Trier. Brothers Helmut and Wolfgang Pantenberg personify hospitality.

Daily Rates: Singles 100 to 110 DM ($60-$66), doubles 150-180 DM ($90-$108). No credit cards.
Contact: Hotel Petrisberg Sickingenstrasse 11-13, D-54296 Trier, tel. +49/0651/4640, fax 46450
Rating: Quality 15/20, Value 14/20

Gasthaus Stadt Mainz

Würzburg, Germany

Very special Würzburg hotel and restaurant warmly and efficiently run by the hospitable Schwarzmann family. Ask for room Number Six.

Daily Rates: 130 to 190 DM ($78-$114)
Contact: Gasthaus Stadt Mainz Semmelstr. 39, D-97070 Würzburg, tel. +49/0931/53155, fax 58510.
Rating: Quality 14/20, Value 15/20

Cittadella

Locarno, Switzerland

Popular old-town restaurant with a few clean, comfortable rooms with private bath. No lift.

Daily Rates: Singles 60 to 100 Sfr. ($44-$74), doubles 100 to 150 Sfr. ($74-$110)
Contact: Hotel-Ristorante Cittadella Via Cittadella 18, CH-6600 Locarno, tel. +41/091/751 58 85, fax 751 77 59
Rating: Quality 10/20, Value 13/20

Villa Pauliska

Locarno, Switzerland

Beautifully restored hillside villa with four open, airy guestrooms with high ceilings, tall windows, hardwood floors and pleasant bathrooms. Breakfast is not available, however.

Daily Rates: Singles 60 to 80 Sfr. ($44-$59), doubles 100 to 150 Sfr. ($74-$110).
Contact: Villa Pauliska, Via Orselina 6, CH-6600 Locarno-Muralto, tel. +41 091 743 05 41
Rating: Quality 14/20, Value 16/20

Hirschen

Langnau, Switzerland

Charming, authentic country hotel in Switzerland's Emmental region between Bern and Lucerne. Very good kitchen. Handy for train travelers.

Daily Rates: Singles 80 to 95 Sfr. ($59-$70), doubles 130 to 160 Sfr. ($96-$118)
Contact: Hotel Hirschen Dorfstrasse 17, CH-3550 Langnau, +41/034/402 1517, fax 402 5623. Proprietors: Hedy and Urs Weyermann, Urs Messerli.
Rating: Quality 13/20, Value 15/20

Ostello Palagiovani

Lorcarno, Switzerland

Spic and span hostel at the edge of Locarno's old town. Several rooms with private bath for two, three and four persons. Professional and friendly.

Daily Rates: Singles 52 to 77 Sfr. ($38-$57), doubles 74 to 84 Sfr. ($54-$62). Lunch and dinner 11 Sfr. ($8) extra. Bicycle rentals per day 12 Sfr. ($9), half-day 8 Sfr. ($6).
Contact: Ostello Palagiovani Via Varenna 18, CH-6600 Locarno, tel. +41/091/756 15 00, fax 756 15 01
Rating: Quality 10/20, Value 15/20

We saw two Swiss vacation rentals that belong on our list of "value" accommodations.

Beck Haus

Signau, Switzerland

First floor flat in 200-year-old house in the hamlet of Signau in the Swiss Emmental near Langnau. Kitchen, sitting room, two to three bedrooms, and balcony. Three-minute walk to rail station.

Weekly Rate: 315 Sfr. ($232)
Contact: Beck Haus, Dorfstrasse 45, CH-3534 Signau, tel. +4/034/497 1344. Proprietor: Familie Beck
Rating: Quality 13/20, Value 16/20

Chesa Nouva

Pontresina, Switzerland

Centrally located, sunny, modern apartment in Swiss resort of Pontresina, perfect for two persons.

Weekly Rate: 840 Sfr. ($617).
Contact: Chesa Nouva Chesa Miramunt, CH-7504 Pontresina, tel. +41/081/842 7844. Proprietor: G. Gredig.
Rating: Quality 15/20, Value 13/20

Top Restaurants

(Restaurant price key: INX = Inexpensive ($10-$20 per person without beverages); MOD = Moderately priced ($20-$35 per person); EXP = Expensive ($35-$50 per person); VEXP = Very Expensive (Over $50 per person).

Hotel der Bär

Ellmau, Austria

Creative Austrian cuisine in a rustically elegant dining room with splendid views. Perhaps the best half-board dinner we've ever had.

Hotel der Bär A-6352 Ellmau, Tirol, Austria, telephone 53 58/23 95, fax 53 58/23 95-56. EXP
Rating: Quality 17/20, Value 14/20

Wirtshaus zum Griena

Mayrhofen, Austria

A cozy, kitschy, 400 year-old farm house specializing in hearty Austrian comfort food. Located near Mayrhofen's second gondola, the Ahorn-Seilbahn. Try Blutwuchtreaschtl, blood sausage and pan-fried diced potatoes baked until crusty in an iron skillet.

Wirtshaus zum Griena Dorf Haus 768, tel +43 5285/62 778. Reservations. INX-MOD.
Rating: Quality: 16/20, Value: 16/20

Restaurant Beograd

Vienna, Austria

Most Vienna live music spots are touristy. Not this one. Authentic old-world music, food and atmosphere at hard-to-believe prices. Violin, piano, occasionally an accordionist, every night at 8pm. Don't miss the Balkan appetizer plate, plenty for two persons, at about $6. Near Vienna's Naschmarkt.

Restaurant Beograd Schikaneder-gasse 7, tel. +43/01/587 7444, INX
Rating: Quality 13/98, Value 17/98

Die Möwe

Berlin, Germany

A dress-up place with affordable prices for very good food in Berlin's Mitte near the Memorial to the Victims of Fascism. Soft lighting, red banquettes, white tablecloths, tall windows, huge mirrors, and a pianist. Lamb and game dishes recommended.

Die Möwe Am Festungsgraben 1, D-10117 Berlin, tel. +49/030/201 2039, fax 201 2081. Reservations. MOD
Rating: Quality 14/20, Value 14/20

Spree Athen

Berlin, Germany

* Old-Berlin atmosphere, cabaret-style entertainment (female vocalist and pianist performing prewar Berlin songs), and above average food combine to make the Spree Athen a must. Just off the Ku'damm in the Savignyplatz neighborhood.

Spree Athen, Leibnizstrasse 60, D-10629 Berlin, tel. +49/030/324-1733. Reserve ahead. MOD-EXP
Rating: Quality 12/20, Value 12/20

Restaurant-Weinstube Frey

Lindau, Germany

A first floor, 16th-century wine tavern overlooking the town's main pedestrian shopping street. Wood paneling, cushioned benches, ceramic stove, and leaded glass windows. Specialty: whitefish from the Bodensee.

Restaurant-Weinstube Frey Maximillianstrasse 15, 88131 Lindau-Insel, tel 0 83 82-52 78, fax 0 83 82-47-18. No credit cards. MOD.
Rating: Quality 16/20, Value 17/20

Restaurant Idille

Bad Neuenahr, Germany

Worn pine floors, crisp white walls, fresh flowers, an open kitchen, fine views and perhaps a dozen tables. Refined, French-influenced cuisine prepared with skill, care and the freshest ingredients. Big wine list. In a residential area above the town. Splendid desserts.

Restaurant Idille Am Johannisberg 101, D-53474 Bad Neuenahr, Tel +49-2641-28429, Fax +49-2641-25009. No credit cards. MOD-EXP
Rating: Quality 17/20, Value 12/20

Lorenzini

Bern, Switzerland

Excellent Northern Italian dishes in a lively, chic, but informal room. House-made pastas and, in November-December, risotto liberally sprinkled with white truffles.

Lorenzini Theaterplatz 5, CH-3011, tel. +41/31/311 7850. MOD-EXP
Rating: Quality 16/20, Value 13/20

Zimmermania

Bern, Switzerland

Welcoming French-style bistro deep in Bern's old town. Specialties include house-made sausages and Choucroute (Alsatian sauerkraut dish with various meats). Good cheese cart. Rich sauces, large portions.

Restaurant Zimmermania Brunngasse 19, CH-3011, tel. +41/31/311 1542, fax 312 2822. MOD-EXP
Rating: Quality 13/20, Value 10/20

Hotel Hirschen

Langnau, Switzerland

Refined Swiss country cuisine at this out-of-the way Emmental inn. Bring a big appetite and be sure to order the Rösti. Marvelous wine selection.

Hotel Hirschen Dorfstrasse 17, CH-3550, +41/034/402 1517, fax 402 5623. MOD-EXP
Rating: Quality 15/20, Value 12/20

Villa Pauliska

Locarno, Switzerland

Dine relaxed but stylishly in one of two rooms in this graceful, turn-of-the-century Italianate villa. At 51 Sfr. ($38), the fixed-price, five-course, dinner represents one of the best Switzerland restaurant values we've seen in some time.

Villa Pauliska, Via Orselina 6, CH-6600 Locarno-Muralto, tel. +41 091 743 05 41 MOD
Rating: Quality 16/20, Value 15/20

Hotel Saratz

Pontresina, Switzerland

Not your standard Swiss country fare; instead, lighter more adventurous dishes. For example, instead of Scaloppine in the usual rich sauce, it was served only with pan juices in a mixture of fresh greens, red and yellow peppers, and a handful of tiny, flavorful, wild mushrooms. Or chunks of lamb filet folded into rucola greens, with intensely-flavored cherry tomato chunks and paper thin slices of Parmesan. Pilsner Urquell on draft.

Hotel Saratz Via Maistra, CH-7504 Pontresina, tel. +41/081/839 4000, fax 839 4040. MOD
Rating: Quality 16/20, Value 15/20

La Petite Ecurie

Strasbourg, France

Well-prepared bistro food in a charming, but unstudied atmosphere. The lively "scene" is almost as good as the food. Go after 9pm for the best people watching. At about $13 each, leg of lamb and duck breast are worth every penny.

La Petite Ecurie, 8 rue de l'Ecurie, Strasbourg, tel. 88 23 06 22 INX-MOD
Rating: Quality 15/20, Value 16/20

December 1998