In Defense of the Geiger

My wife, Helen, and I recently returned from a month in Europe, primarily in Germany. Catching up on our reading, we noted with interest your question in the July 28th issue of Gemütlichkeit. The item dealt with the Geiger Hotel in Berchtesgaden. Two of your readers complained about problems at the Geiger, you asked: anyone been there recently?

Because of our total delight with the charming Geiger Hotel in a 1985 trip, we decided to spend three nights there this time, August 5, 6, 7. We wrote in advance to Herr Geiger, and reserved Room 205. It was a total winner in every way, and we enjoyed conversations with both Hugo Geiger and his son, Stefan. We dined there each night, and couldn't be more satisfied. You described your own experiences at the Geiger as "terrific". We can only echo that in capital letters: TERRIFIC! Probably any place can have an off moment or two but we were so charmed by the Geiger and the Geigers that we are returning next year.

Meanwhile, continue your excellent reports.

Bill Diehl,
St. Paul MN

Geiger Defense, Part 2

You asked for an update on the Hotel Geiger. Clara and I were there several months ago and will return next March as a prelude to a trip to Southern Africa. I have lost exact count, but this will be either our 18th or 19th visit there. If Mr. Geiger were to incorporate, I would ask him for some promotional shares for free. We sent two couples there this summer and they had a fine time!

The only explanation I have of Mr. Jamieson's problems relates a little to his room. Room 12 is the oldest part of the hotel and some of the rooms are a bit worn by the years. The rooms are also the cheapest and constitute some of the best bargains available in Europe during the times of our weak dollar. I know this is true because we have sent people to the hotel who are on strict budgets and I have always asked for rooms in the old section so that they could save money. What is "Salvation Army" furniture to some may mean very old Bavarian Gemütlichkeit to others. Clara and I stayed in the old wing for many years after the new wing was built. After our age and exchequers expanded, we decided to try the new wing. We actually miss the old wing but prefer the amenities of the new. Mr. Geiger has actually added a third-floor to the new wing which has an even better view of the Watzmann than the lower floors.

The hotel runs better when Mr. Hugo Geiger is there. He has an excellent personality and is an outstanding man. There is a tendency for the mouse to play when the cat's away and I'm sure that Stefan Geiger will mature into a fine hotelier with a few more years under his belt of working with his father.

Once again, this is our favorite hotel in the world (of any category or location). I suspect that the hotel was full and Mr. Jamieson was given a room which has not yet become part of the general refurbishing program. This may have been coupled with a rare instance when neither Hugo nor Stefan were present to the detriment of the guests. It also may have been bad luck.

This is a great place and I think most folks who read your publication will agree.

Victor P Obninsky,
Tiburon CA

Walking Switzerland

I have just returned from my fourth trip to Switzerland in the last six years. Normally my daughters and I take the lifts up to the top and spend the day hiking down from the mountains and we enjoy the many inns on the way down. The last trip we decided to do it the "Swiss way" - no lifts. We started in Kandersteg and finished in Lauterbrunnen. It was an experience of a lifetime. You have to be in good physical condition as you hike 7-8 hours per day. At times we were 8,000 to 9,000 ft. We stayed two nights in the mountain huts (as many as 20 people in the room). The other nights we were in individual rooms. The scenery was spectacular and it was an experience I will never forget. If your readers are interested they can contact Andrew Sanders at IBEX TREKS (Amsterdam, Netherlands, phone 020/671-8202, fax 020/625-7312.) The cost for the 7 1/2 days was approximately $900 per person.

I enjoy Gemütlichkeit newsletter very much. In Wengen we stayed at Hotel Alpenruhe that was recommended by you.

Carol Tanklage,
Redwood City CA

Yes on Baden-Baden Hotel

Although family concerns have prevented us from traveling in recent years we enjoy our trips vicariously with Gemütlichkeit. In your September issue I was delighted to find that you have "discovered" one of our Baden-Baden favorites - the Rebenhof. We have overnighted there on several occasions and always go for at least one meal when we're in the Schwarzwald area. We agree that it has to be the best value around.

Have you checked out Monchs-Posthotel in Bad Herrenalb? This is another favorite. The staff has always been kind to us and we have especially enjoyed staying there at Christmas time. The Christmas Eve cold buffet was outstanding.

Thanks for helping us recall happy memories through your newsletters.

Joanne Koch,
Grosse Point Farms MI

Europe in Review

Just returned from Europe and wanted to give you a little feedback since we used your recommendations in several cases.

Hamburg - stayed at the Vier Jahreszeiten. Great hotel, although I wonder if it is worth the price for those not on an expense account. We were very disappointed with dinner in The Grill.

Würzburg - wonderful town! We stayed at the zur Stadt Mainz as you recommended. Great! The proprietress was welcoming and the room nice (although on the fourth floor with no elevator). Dinner in the charming dining room was marvelous - both the food and the service were special. The breakfast buffet in that same room was extraordinary. This is a "primo" place.

Passau - another lovely town, right on the Danube. We stayed at the Wilder Mann. This hotel is well located and our room nice, but the lobby was cold and unwelcoming as was the staff. The restaurant was a big disappointment, considering the Michelin star. Service was well meaning but incompetent and the room is cold and bare. The food was good but nothing more and not worth its high price.

Vienna - stayed at Pension Altstadt for five nights. Absolutely superior! Well located if you're willing to do a little walking (and what are you in Vienna for but to walk and enjoy). This place is exceptionally friendly and comfortable. We asked for and got room 14 and, as you suggested, it was glorious, especially the ballroom size bath.

An illustrative story - we arrived tired and frazzled in our packed rental car during the evening rush hour. There was no place to park, so we double parked to unload and one of us was going to try and negotiate traffic and return the car to the Budget office, which we could only hope to find, given the intricacies of one way streets and traffic in Vienna. The proprietor of the Altstadt, Mr Wiesenthal, and his young man, rushed down to help us with the luggage and then he insisted on returning the car to the rental office for us. He knew exactly where to go and wanted to save us the trouble. Now is that nice? Our tension level plummeted and we loved him immediately. The Altstadt has a warm, lovely lounge with complimentary drinks, coffee or tea, and newspapers (including the Herald Tribune). The desk got us theater tickets, recommended nice restaurants and was generally very pleasant. The breakfast buffet was outstanding and served in a very cheerful room.

• Took the hydrofoil to Budapest. Easy, cheap, comfortable, pleasant. Definitely the way to go. Stayed at the Forum. This is a big modern hotel but I wouldn't recommend anything but big modern hotels in Budapest. We didn't see any older, charming hotels and I suspect they don't exist. The Forum was busy, bustling with businessmen and tour groups, but friendly and efficient. Our room looked across the Danube at the Palace - a gorgeous view. Our only complaint was that we couldn't get the concierge to steer us to good simple restaurants. He insisted on sending us to fancy, expensive, "international" places that he thought more appropriate for foreign guests (and from which he got commissions?). When we specifically asked him about some places we had read about, he turned up his nose and said (exact words) "Oh, not for you!" Gundel's, incidentally, is a great restaurant, worth seeing - big, beautiful, good food, full of Americans, expensive but only once; or so we thought. After following the guidance of our concierge three other nights, maybe a second night at Gundel's would have been a good idea.

Thank you for pointing us to some good places.

Warren Albright & Per Schelde,
Washington CT

Baden-Baden Hotels

Please do not waste space on places like the Brenner's Park in Baden-Baden. Leave that to Condé Nast et al and stay with the places that are not so obvious or so ridiculous in price. The best bang for the buck in Baden-Baden is the Waldhotel Forellenhof and your inclusion of the Allee Hotel Bären is also a plus.

Bruce Woelfel mentions "boiled beef" in Graz. This is the renowned tafelspitz, practically the national dish, and deserves to be called by its name.

In spite of my sniping, you do an excellent job.

Robert Simons,
St Cloud WI

(Ed. note: We have no beef with Mr. Simons, who owns a travel company and is extremely knowledgeable about the hotels of Baden-Baden.)

(More ed. notes: Last month we published a letter by Mr. Martin Ems of San Francisco. We left out a key part of his comments about the Hotel Domus' convenient location. The paragraph should have read that the hotel is "a 10-minute walk to Kurfürstendamm, a 20-minute walk to Zoo railway and S-Bahn station, a 15-minute walk to the Savigny Platz S-Bahn station, the latter being far less crowded than the Zoo station." The underlined portion was inadvertently omitted.)

November 1994