German hotels, Austria comments, and a country hotel near Bern.

German Hotels

Our favorite first night hotel when arriving via the Frankfurt airport is Haus Lipmann (Marktplatz 3, D-56814 Beilstein/Mosel, tel. +49/2673-1573, fax +49/2673-1521), in Beilstein on the south bank of the Mosel River.

Overlooking the river and ferry landing, Haus Lipmann is small with a friendly staff, excellent wine and good food. Somewhat cellar-like and illuminated mainly with candles, a newly added Weinstube in an old building behind the hotel is a great way to while away a rainy afternoon. Rooms in the main hotel are unique, many with exposed beams. Most have balconies overlooking the river but be sure to make this request. No credit cards. Confirm reservations by phone the day before arrival. English spoken. We paid 150 DM ($83), breakfast included.

A three-day stay at the Gutshotel des Weingutes von Kesselstadt (Balduinstr. 1, D-54347 Neumagen-Dhron, tel. +49/6507 2035, fax +49/6507 5644) (Gemütlichkeit, October 1988) was wonderful. The hotel and apartment remain exactly as described. Food, staff and wine are all excellent.

Not much English is spoken but they bring out a huge multilingual culinary dictionary and your host asks permission to join you at your table to help interpret the menu!

The hotel has its own wine label which is excellent but pricey. (Visit Edgar Hermes, a vintner in the nearby village of Trittenheim. Ring the bell and someone will show you into the tasting room, a converted garage. Don't be deterred by the fact that you are at a private home on a village street. There is a sign. You will be hooked and carry home many bottles of their excellent wines. Trust me!) The apartment rented for 200 DM ($111), breakfast included.

A great find in Munich, the Hotel Acanthus (An der Hauptfeuerwache 14, D-80331 Munich. Tel. +89/231880, fax +89/2607364) is a 5-minute walk from the Sendlinger Tor and the U-Bahn. The friendly staff speaks excellent English and the breakfast buffet is the best we have had in Germany.

Rooms, though small, are comfortable and the entire hotel is spotless and attractively decorated. There are two price ranges. At the time of our booking the Rustikana rooms rented for 165 DM ($92) and those with an Alba Rose theme for 195 DM ($108), breakfast buffet included. Parking in the underground garage is an additional 15 DM ($8) per day (reserve in advance, limited spaces).

Ask for #505, a somewhat larger rear corner room with an Alba Rose theme. There is no restaurant but the bar is open 24 hours a day!

A disappointment: Romantik Hotel Bierhütte. We had long awaited a visit to this hotel and were sorely disappointed.

The reception staff was pleasant and helpful, but our room in one of the annexes was a definite disappointment. One step up from an old Holiday Inn, the bathroom was done in ugly green tile. The room itself was nothing special and also reminiscent of a nondescript American motel room.

The biggest problem was the service at dinner. We normally do not opt for half-board but for some reason decided to try it. This must have been our mistake because the service was perfunctory and indifferent at best. We had ordered a glass of wine with dinner.

We were rushed through each course not even finishing our wine before being shown the dessert menu. We would have liked another glass of wine and some leisure time before deciding on dessert but the waitress, who spoke excellent English, ignored our request. (I tried both English and German to request more time.) We finally gave up, had dessert and left. We noticed other diners with regular menus were treated to far, far better service.

A questionnaire in the room asked for feedback. We gave it in great detail but never heard a word from the proprietors. We, sadly, will write this hotel off.

Virginia Kiehn
Stoddard NH

Wants the Best

In reply to the reader interested in B&B and other moderately-priced accommodations; please be advised that you also have many readers interested in the finest and best accommodations.

Paul Broyhill
Lenior NC

(Ed Note: Mr. Broyhill's email represents the majority of responses to the letter appearing in the April 1998 issue which complained that Gemütlichkeit leans too much to expensive hotels and restaurants. To be sure, there was support for both sides of this issue, but reader surveys over the years are clear: most subscribers seek moderately-priced hotels and restaurants, with an occasional splurge to more luxurious establishments. Nonetheless, there is a constituency to be served at both ends of the spectrum; those who want only the finest and those who want the most inexpensive accommodations and meals. Interestingly, the latter group is not always motivated by price. Many correctly point out that B & Bs and simple restaurants are the best way to get close to a country, its culture and people.

A quick look at the past 24 issues of Gemütlichkeit shows a coverage breakdown as follows: Inexpensive accommodations [one and two-stars hotels, pensions], 30%; moderately-priced [three-star hotels], 41%; expensive [four and five-star hotels], 29%. These figures relate to the number of hotels reviewed, not to the number of column inches devoted to each category.)

Requests Restaurant List

I would appreciate your recommending to me your choice of the best restaurants (with phone numbers and addresses if possible) in Zürich, a city I much enjoy.

Name Withheld

(Ed. Note: Scheduled to run later this year is a story on mid-priced Zürich restaurants. Unfortunately, we do not have sufficient staff to process general inquires of this nature.)

Austria Comments

I just returned from a trip to Austria where I used prior issues of your travel letter as reference. Particularly enjoyed the drive across the Grossglockner glacier area described in the September 97 issue. Found a great hotel in Bad Hofgastein large rooms, picture postcard view from room balcony, superb breakfast, and all for $100. This would be Kurhotel Moser (tel. +43/06432/6209, fax 620988). This resort is considerably more expensive during the winter ski season. Unlike Vail and Aspen, the Austrians have apparently not yet figured out how to market their resorts as a summer destination. I'd like to return to Hotel Moser for at least a week.

Was disappointed in Salzburg. Too many tourists. I ate in several restaurants where I heard nothing but English spoken might as well have been in Chicago. Menus are laminated and printed in English also. I always ask for the German menu, since only it has the daily specials which usually include the freshest, seasonal ingredients (strawberries and asparagus during my trip).

Your May 98 issue recommends Lienz. I did not go there, but I particularly enjoyed Graz, which is Austria's second largest city, yet still relatively free of the tourist hordes. I also did not share other readers' enthusiasm for the Hotel Trumer Stube in Salzburg. Only one step above a youth hostel, in my opinion.

Would like to reinforce your other readers' recommendation of Hotel Hoyacker Hof in Garching as a splendid "last night" hotel near the Munich airport.

Keep up the good work with your publication.

Mike Elder
Topeka KS

Country Hotel Near Bern

I enjoyed your recent feature concerning the small but interesting capital of Switzerland. Bern is charming and should not be missed.

Regarding accommodations in Bern and surroundings, I believe Gemütlichkeit readers would be interested in an utterly charming small country inn named Le Vieux Manoir au Lac, CH-3280 Murten-Meyriez, an easy 20-minute Autobahn drive from the center of Bern. It actually lies in Pays de Fribourg where French is the local language, but it's 31 KM (19 miles) from German-speaking Bern and the Managers, Mr. and Mrs. Erich Thomas, are fluent in English.

We stayed there a few years ago and paid 330 SF ($220) per night per room for accommodations facing Lake Morat. The price included breakfast, service and taxes. A little expensive but well worth it.

The view of the lake from the rooms and dining area are delightful. There are 23 good-sized bedrooms and the restaurant is outstanding. It was one of the highlights of our trip.

The nearby walled town of Murten is an historic gem in itself, the sort of place one hopes to find when touring the Swiss countryside.

If one has a car, staying at the Manoir au Lac is preferable to suffering the parking problems, noise and traffic at the city hotels. Bern itself can be reached quickly and easily and visits to other mid-country attractions such as the Bernese Oberland and Gruyères can be made easily with detours around the city.

Matthias Sheeleigh
Summit NJ

June 1998