Last Night Hotels
Increased airport security, which requires getting there earlier and staying longer, often means the "last night" hotel has to be very near the airport. Such hotels are often expensive but seldom gemütlich. So we settle for clean and comfortable, and look for special deals.
A couple have recently crossed my desk. Willi Isler, the courtly, former director of now closed San Francisco's Swiss Tourist Office, tells of a promising hotel near the Frankfurt Airport. It's the Astron Hotel Frankfurt-Airport (Moerfelderstr. 113, D-65451 Kelsterbach, tel. +49/61 07/938-0, fax +49/6107/938-100, email: frankfurt-airport@astron hotels.de, Web: www.astron-hotels.com), where he found a special price of 78.50 EUR ($68), single or double. When Willi was there in November, transport to and from the airport was by courtesy bus from area #1 of the Lufthansa Terminal. Buses operate every 15 minutes from 5am until midnight, every 10 minutes during rush hours.
The best Astron deal we were able to find on the web was 125 EUR ($109), still a good rate. Children up to age 12 stay free.
Astron has two other hotels in the area and a Zürich-Airport Astron opened last October.
At the hotel's Website one of those overdone, complicated, bells and whistles, musical introduction, not-very-user-friendly sites we found a double room rate of 126 EUR ($110) with breakfast for a Saturday night in May. The rate requires an airline ticket for departure on the following day. With no airline ticket, the rate quoted was 141 EUR ($123). The weekday rate was 210 EUR ($183), and did not include breakfast.
Swiss Rail Expands Choice
As much as possible, airport hotels are to be avoided. The railway system in Switzerland often makes that possible. Your last night hotel could be in Bern, Interlaken or even Lausanne—depending on how early you have to be at the airport. Swiss Rails new, very-early-in-the-morning trains allow more travelers to stay out in the country the night before departure from the Zürich Airport.
For example, a 6:06 am train from Lausanne arrives at the Zürich Airport rail station at 8:50 am. From Bern, trains make the approximately 90 minute run to the airport about every half hour beginning at 4:30 am. From Interlaken's West Station, there's a 6:40 am and a 7:40 am that get to the airport at 9:16 and 10:16. Lucerne is a piece of cake. There are hourly direct trains to the airport beginning a few minutes before 5am. The journey takes just over an hour. Even if you're way down in the southeast corner of the country in St. Moritz, you can hop a 4:58am train and be at the airport at 8:50 am. But for this one, you must make several train changes.
"First Night" Near Frankfurt
Perhaps a little the worse for wear from a long flight, your comeback starts as soon as you pass through the hotel's arched gates into the walled, inner courtyard. At night the gates are shut and you are safely tucked away in this private little enclave.
A main Anker attraction is its outstanding restaurant, Weinhaus Anker, just across the street from the hotel. It's been a few years, but I still recall bacon-wrapped medallions of venison topped with pillows of foie gras, and next to them on the plate small mounds of sautéed wild mushrooms mixed with finely chopped onions, bits of bacon and other delights.
Twelve years ago, in our first review of the Anker we called it a "Mercedes Benz of a hotel; solid, not flashy, but everything works and is built to last. In two days we never encountered a single staff member, from owners to maids who, at every contact, did not give us a Guten Tag and a smile."
Singles are 62 to 85 EUR ($54-$74), doubles go for 99 to 120 EUR ($86-$104).