A hotel and restaurant recommendation in Hamburg; a Romantik hotel near Rostock; great restaurants in the Jura, the Rheinland, and southern Bavaria; and an affordable hotel in the charming Austrian town of Steyr.

Northern Germany Hotels

I recently returned from a month in Germany, and want you to know how much I appreciated the hotel information found on your website. In particular, the Hotel Prem in Hamburg was a wonderful discovery. The moment I arrived, a young woman from the front office came outside to greet me and see if I needed assistance. Once inside, I found the manager, Mr. Tobias Flor, extremely helpful and understanding. In the days that followed, the staff (from the manager to the housekeeper) greeted me by name.

In addition to very nice accommodations, the two restaurants were also outstanding. Of all the meals I ate in restaurants during my stay in Germany, the five-course dinner at La Mer was by far the best. What made it even more enjoyable was the fact that the woman who manages the restaurants displayed an amazing combination of hospitality and efficiency. Everything ran like clockwork, yet her warmth and attentiveness made me feel like I was a dinner guest in her home. This was also true of the waiters, which tells me that a lot of extra effort has gone into training the staff. I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that your recommendation was right on target, and I am grateful to have such a reliable guide to go by as I plan future trips.

A couple of other discoveries to pass along. In Bad Doberan, near Rostock, I found the Romantik Hotel Friedrich-Franz Palais (Am Kamp, D-18209, tel. +49/038203/63036, fax 62126, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) quite pleasant and reasonably priced; the restaurant is very good. One nice thing about the location, besides the beauty of the place itself and the amazing church, is its proximity to Rostock/Warnemünde without the business and noise of the city.

Even less likely to be on a traveler's itinerary (but worth the trip) is the town of Güstrow. The Schlosshotel Güstrow (Schlossberg 1, D-18273 Gstrow, tel. +49/03843/7670, fax 767 100) is a pleasant and very up-to-date hotel. Besides being reasonably priced and very well-run, the hotel is right across the street from the palace (now a museum) and only a few blocks from the information office and the two main churches; the Ernst Barlach museum is a few blocks further, but also within walking distance. Interestingly enough, before reunification this hotel was actually a prison. What a change! The restaurant is also quite good and reasonably priced, with a bit of an emphasis on Italian cuisine.

I hope this is useful in your search for places to recommend. Thank you again for the tips I received from your fine publication.

Rev. William S. Martens
Richland, WA

Recommends Top Restaurants

Would you believe food is one of Europe's best attractions? See if you can match these restaurants in America. My wife thinks Wolfgang Puck's Spago in Beverly Hills comes close.

First, in Switzerland and definitely off the beaten path is Georges Wenger's Hotel de la Gare (2 Rue de La Gare, CH-2340 Le Noirmont, tel. +41/032/953 1110) located in the Jura not far from France. One room and two suites (how luxurious they are) located right over the restaurant. The food? Probably the best in Switzerland. Near the end of dinner both Mr. and Mrs. Wenger mingled with the crowd who it appeared were all most satisfied. We stayed two nights and sampled four different meals. All were superb. For us it was as good or better than a French Michelin three-star, need more be said?

Second, in Germany, Johann Lafer's Stromberg (Schlossberg 1, D-55442, Stromberg Kreis Kreuznach, Rhineland-Palatinate, tel. +49/06724/93100, fax 931 090, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). Our introduction to this fine restaurant came by means of a taxi driver. First he volunteered that most people come in their own cars, very nice cars. Second, he yielded his opinion, "It is thought to be the finest German restaurant." Well, we were there and we agree. Every last course was scrumptious. Why elaborate? Johann Lafer has it. Another as good or better than a French Michelin three-star.

Third in Germany is Alpenhof Murnau (Ramschstrasse 8 D-82418 Murnau, tel. +49/08841/4910, fax 491100, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), about an hour south of Munich in the so-called Lake Country. The food is excellent in every respect, however not so pompous as the above two restaurants. It was a very pleasant stop in Bavaria between Munich and Austria.

All three are associated with Relais & Chateaux 800-735-2478.

Albert Fiedler
Camarillo CA

Vacation Rental Memories

The article on apartment rentals in the July issue brought back memories.

My husband retired from Lockheed Aircraft in early 1977 and we were a year planning for this event since we expected to spend six months in Europe, most of them in Switzerland.

On a previous trip I visited a real estate agency in Ascona in the canton Ticino. When the time came I contacted them about renting an apartment for one month. They offered several choices and we selected the one. No deposit was required and when we arrived in Ascona on a Sunday, we picked up the keys left for us at a local hotel. It was a beautiful apartment with all amenities at a rate of CHF 30 per day!

Our next stop was Lake Lucerne. I had requested brochures on several apartments which the tourist office sent very promptly. I first eliminated those that did not meet our needs. Then I corresponded with four of the apartment owners all of whom provided necessary details. One in particular appealed to us. The owner gave detailed descriptions, enclosed postcards of the village and specified the "do's and don'ts." We selected that one and again no deposit was required. The apartment was in the small town of Vitznau at the foot of the Rigi Mountain, a half-hour by boat or car from Lucerne. It was a lovely place, bedroom, living room, kitchen, bath and balcony facing Lake Lucerne and the mountains. What could be better! Except the rent which was $12 a day! Unbelievable. We spent three months there and returned again a couple of years later for a two-week stay. The owner even provided sheets and towels (new and still packaged in the store covers) since I explained it would be too difficult for us to ship all that from the US.

We were fortunate to find two such ideal accommodations because, once we were there, we looked at other properties and many would not have met our standards.

So much for reminiscing. Keep up the good work.

Susi E. Kanuch
Ventura CA

In Praise of Austria

We have just returned from a wonderful trip to Austria. We thoroughly enjoyed Vienna, Dürnstein, Linz, and Innsbruck. All are lovely cities with beautiful old towns to enjoy. (We didn't make it to Melk, deciding instead to spend a third night in Innsbruck, a fascinating old medieval city in spite of all the organized tour groups.)

Then there was the beautiful little city of Steyr, which was certainly one of the highlights of our trip. We were happy to see when we returned that you had included it in your May issue as a "hidden treasure." We couldn't agree more.

The hotel accommodations were outstanding at every stop, especially at your two 'Editor's Choices' (the Altstadt in Vienna and the Mader in Steyr). In fact, when we returned to Vienna for our last night, we found that the Altstadt had upgraded us from the double room with an extra bed that we had reserved to the owner's suite, at no additional charge.

The Dayhoff Family
Via email

October 2002