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For almost any viewpoint, Seepromenade is the place to be, lodgingly speaking. The stunning vista past the ancient Mangturm and out into the enclosed harbor, guarded majestically by a larger-than-life Bavarian Lion and the 19th-century New Lighthouse, moves across the lake to the snow-capped peaks of the Swiss Alps. On nice days, the umbrella tables come out, strollers make their way back and forth along the front and every lakeside bench is filled with people soaking up the sun and scenery. Lined up in a very nice row along the Promenade where the vast warehouses once stood, are the premier hotels of Lindau.

Starting at the most conveniently located train station in Europe and continuing east along Seepromenade, are the Hotels Bayerischer Hof, Seegarten and Reutemann, in that order. Owned and managed by the Spaeth family, the three establishments descend in price from most expensive on down, although the distinctions blur.

All three share an outdoor pool and wellness-center and have full service restaurants and facilities for the handicapped. They are within easy walking distance of both the train station and the ferry dock.

Hotel Bayerischer Hof

Directly across from the station is the Hotel Bayerischer Hof, flagship of the trio, with a Michelin four roof-peak rating. Also the largest and the most formal, the Bayerischer has 104 rooms and several suites. Not surprisingly, those with lake views cost more. The typical Euro decor, which all these hotels share, is streamlined but never sparse with lots of white paint and natural wood. Room Number 334 is very large and has a full view of the lake and harbor. Peach and yellow are very pretty as the accent colors and there is a seating area with a couch and upholstered chairs plus a fully-tiled bathroom.

Overlooking the train station, which in fact is not an unpleasant aspect at all, Number 341 is also large enough to accommodate a seating area as well as a huge armoire. The nightly rate is 295 DM ($180).

All bathrooms in the Bayerischer Hof have tubs, showers and heated towel bars.

Contact: Hotel Bayerischer Hof, Seepromenade, D-88131 Lindau-Insel, tel. +49/08382/9150, fax 915591. Closed December-March.
Price Category: Expensive
Rating: Quality 17/20, Value 14/20


Seegarten/Reutemann

The Hotels Seegarten and Reutemann, with a total of 64 rooms, are in two separate buildings sharing a front desk and other facilities. And frankly, it's difficult to tell just which hotel you're in at any given point. And it doesn't seem to matter in any significant way.

In general, the common lobby is a bit more casual than next door but still very attractive with lots of polished wood and fresh flowers.

Room Number 410 Seegarten has a full view of the lake and swimming pool and is large enough for a seating area at one end with a small couch and chairs.

A more impressive choice, however, is Number 216 in the supposedly less expensive Reutemann. Also with that to die-for view, this very large corner room with three big windows is 350 DM ($213). To us it makes infinite sense to opt for one of the best rooms (such as Number 216) in either the Reutemann or the Seegarten instead of a middle-of-the-road, but considerably more expensive, one in the Bayerischer Hof.

Contact: Hotel Reutemann/Seegarten, Seepromenade, D-88131 Lindau-Insel, tel. +49/08382/9150, fax 915591. Open all year.
Price Category: Moderate/Expensive
Rating: Quality 16/20, Value 16/20

Hotel Helvetia

Just beyond the Big Three, but still on the promenade, is the Helvetia.

Somewhat smaller, with just 50 rooms and certainly more relaxed, it has been done up in a Mediterranean theme, apparently in deference to the resort-like ambiance and mild climate of the region. The overall effect is decidedly, well, funky. Greek inspired motifs adorn the public rooms while guestrooms are abloom with flowery prints, ruffles and great big fabric bows tying back the draperies.

We suspect that the clientèle tends to be a little younger here.

Contact: Hotel Helvetia, Seepromenade, D-88131 Lindau-Insel, tel. +49/08382/91 30, fax 40 04. Closed: November through February.
Price Category: Moderate/Expensive
Rating: Quality 13/20, Value 13/20


Lindauer Hof

Another well-located option is the Lindauer Hof, on the promenade but set back slightly behind a small grassy triangle. A touch of the Med surfaces in the decor here as well which is surprising considering the obviously Germanic heritage of owner/managers, Gert and Karin Wimpissinger.

You can eat on the first floor (second) enclosed terrace overlooking the harbor, or outside under the shade of an ancient wisteria vine.

Contact: Hotel Lindauer Hof, Seepromenade, D-88131 Lindau-Insel, tel. +49/08382/40 64, fax 42 03. Open all year.
Price Category: Moderate/Expensive
Rating: Quality 14/20, Value 14/20