Swiss Bargain Hideaway

I hesitate writing about a favorite chalet apartment in Ringgenberg near Interlaken; I want to keep it to myself, but I also want others to enjoy it.

The chalet was built in 1993 and it is Wunderbar, from the spacious balconies overlooking Lake Brienz and the Alps to the sauna, whirlpool and indoor swimming pool.

I've stayed there four different times and just wish I could live there. The young couple who run it are great - attending to any need; train station pick up, etc. They speak English and the price is right, especially when I take may family of six. I'd be glad to answer any inquiries.

Jane Dalbey
Overland Park KS

(Thanks to Ms. Dalbey for sending us a brochure with prices. Her hideaway looks very attractive in the photos. Contact: Ferien bei Schwizi's, Hans & Doris Schweizer, Gartenstrasse, CH-3852, Ringgenberg, tel. 36/233828, fax 36/234048. Apartments range from 80 Sfr. [$63] per day for up to four persons in low season, to 195 Sfr. [$154] per day for from six to eight persons in high season. Editor)

Schloss Matzen, Yes

Your recent article about the Schloss Matzen (July, '96) in Brixlegg, Austria, tempted us into a stay.

We are happy to report that your evaluation of the castle fell short of our findings. It was better than you reported. We found the furnishings appropriate for the structure, rather than "worn." And "crumbling" was a fitting term for the only part of the castle we noticed that was in that condition: the Roman Tower. There was even a hint of spookiness evoked from the ambiance that enhanced our stay.

The hospitality of Margaret Fox and Christopher Kump (owners of the castle) goes the extra mile. They joined us for breakfast and shared their experiences in ownership and maintenance of a castle (not the normal conversation you expect to experience as a guest at breakfast). Michael then provided a full tour of the castle, filled with experiences he shared as an 8-year-old boy who visited the castle during summer vacations.

Our lasting impression was that this was a genuine castle, little changed over the last few hundred years (except, of course, for the modern plumbing!) including the furnishings and objet d'arts, as genuine as the owners are.

It's on our list for a return visit...and for a longer stay!

Milton P. Champas
Sacramento CA

Northern Germany

Here are a few thoughts on our recent trip to Northern Germany. We found the people as cold and dreary as the weather. Prices were high and neither the hotels nor restaurants were crowded.

We can't understand all the fuss about Hamburg, we did not find the people so wonderfully dressed. We went to the Zum Alten Rathaus for dinner, but left as it was empty. I would say that half the men at the Ratsweinkeller were without ties and jackets. The people at the Atlantic Hotel were fairly casual. We stayed at the Hotel Wedina (Gurlittstr. 23, D-20099, tel. 40/24 30 11, fax 40/280 3894) and I would definitely recommend it. It is two brownstones and soon to be three. They have good lighting and baths but I would request one of the larger rooms. It is near the Aussenalster and you can walk anywhere. The rate was 195 DM ($130), including breakfast.

In Hanover we stayed at the Georgenhof (Herrenhuser Kirchweg 20, D-30167, tel. 511/70 22 44, fax 511/70 85 59). They have a wonderful restaurant (expensive) and one would feel out of place there without a coat and tie. The room rate was $170, including breakfast.

We found Münster to be a very interesting city. We stayed on the outskirts in the town of Handorf at the Hof Zur Linde (Handorfer Werseufer 1, D-48157, tel. 251/327 50, fax 251/328 209). Our room in the original building was large with a sitting area and good bath. They have a newer annex and the rooms are cheaper, I would recommend them. They have a good restaurant but the best part of our stay was meeting the bartender, Charlie. He puts on quite a show serving wine and beer. He's very friendly (from Bavaria) and people are there to all hours. You'd love him. The rate we paid was $170 including breakfast.

We would love to find some condo and apartment rentals. We love Switzerland but need to find an alternative to hotel living.

Pat McLean
Colorado Springs CO

No on Walter du Lac

There is a hotel you listed in your "Best Hotels of 1994," the Walter du Lac in Lugano. My husband and I based an overnight trip to Lugano in June upon your recommendation. We were terribly disappointed. We look for charm, value and comfort. This hotel not only did not have any of these qualities, it had an unfriendly staff. One of the many discomforts was the tiny, roofless concrete slab hanging over a noisy, congested main street clogged with fumes. I believe your description was "huge lakeside terraces."

Some relative passed on your newsletter to aid us in planning a three-month European vacation. Our only bad hotel experience was the Walter du Lac. This is our only Gemütlichkeit experience so we will not be subscribing. We continue to rely on Travel & Leisure. Their recommendations can be trusted.

Helen Albright
Jacksonville FL

(Imagine Ms. Albright's disappointment had she paid for Gemütlichkeit. Editor)

Rips Airport Hotel

I would like to pass on one warning to you and possibly your readers: do not stay at the Hotel Aston in Kelsterbach (close to Frankfurt airport). Granted its location puts you close to your departure and they do provide a free airport shuttle service but please read on.

Problems:

1. We were told the hotel was air-conditioned...right; open both windows wide and hope for a breeze.
2. Located in an industrial park between two trucking firms, the German equivalent of American Moving Van Lines and Danzas Trucking. Both work around the clock as do their diesels.
3. Closest little town is Kelsterbach, a long, warm 5 kilometer walk and since it was before 6 p.m. no restaurants were open except pizza and ice cream.
4. Hotel did not offer a complete menu. I settled for the buffet at 28.50 DM ($19) even though I don't particularly fancy curried dishes. My wife decided on the one-trip salad bar at 18.50 DM ($12). All-in-all a fairly expensive bad meal. Be sure to carry antacids. Better yet, take the shuttle to the airport to eat.

David Oplet
Belleville IL

(U.S. Dollar prices quoted in this issue of Gemütlichkeit may be inaccurate for these reasons:

* Prices in local currency have not been updated since the date of publication of this newsletter, and...
* The dollar prices shown were obtained by using exchange rates in effect at the time of publication.)

November 1996