Sometimes a favored destination is not a town or region but a special hotel. Though Bad Aibling isn't even mentioned in Michelin's Green Guide for Germany, there are several reasons to put this small Bavarian town that lies 12 kilometers due west of Rosenheim and about five kilometers north of the Munich-Salzburg Autobahn on your next itinerary.
To begin with, it is just an hour from the Munich Airport and would make a perfect first-night stop for travelers headed toward Bavaria, Austria, Italy or points south. Second, it is strategically located 92 kilometers (58 miles) from Salzburg and 63 kilometers (39 miles) from Munich making it an excellent headquarters from which to explore the region: the lakes Chiemsee, Schliersee and Tegernsee are all less than half an hour's drive.
A day's outing that immediately springs to mind is to drive "yellow roads" by way of Kolbermoor, Rosenheim, Stephanskirchen, Riedering, Pietzing (paralleling the east shore of the Simmsee) and, near Rimsting, turning south on the "red road" to Prien. From there catch the boat to the Herrninsel, an island, and tour Schloss Herrenchiemsee, the unfinished but spectacular palace that Ludwig II modeled after Versailles.
But the best reason to stop in Bad Aibling is the excellent Romantik Hotel Lindner. Its lineage can be traced to as early as 1470 when it was Schloss Prantshausen. Today the graceful, Baroque-style stucco building with its black and white striped shutters sits just a stone's throw from the fountain in the town center. Inside is a snug dining room decorated in a style that falls somewhere between elegant and rustic, public rooms with vaulted ceilings and dark wood wainscoting, and 20 comfortable guest rooms.
The Lindner's best rooms are the dozen in an annex at the rear of the property. Ask for Number 29, a large, airy corner double. Adjacent to the annex is an acre or so of beautifully maintained lawn and garden that in good weather is dotted with umbrella tables and chaise lounges.
The restaurant is as good as the accommodations, with lighter and more creative dishes than the usual Bavarian farm cookery. The room is informal enough that the casually-dressed visitor feels comfortable. The knowledgeable service is the relaxed sort that, by the end of the meal, has waiter and customer chatting about travel, the weather, sports, etc.
We were served a particularly outstanding Bavarian potato soup—bits of potato, ham and vegetable in a medium thick broth. Simple chicken breasts in a light, herb sauce were perfectly cooked. Mixed vegetable salads are often pre-made hours in advance and by the time they reach your table are limp and lifeless. The Lindner version was fresh and crisp, a sign the kitchen doesn't take shortcuts.
One of the desserts was a combination of tiramisu, parfait, ice cream and fresh berries, including red wild strawberries, white wild strawberries, raspberries and big tart blackberries. The meal was light enough that we had room for it.
The Lindner is hard to categorize; part country Bavarian, part romantic hideaway and part cool elegance, but still affordable for most budgets.