Location, location. Some travelers enjoy being hosted by Herr und Frau Innkeeper, who welcome them to their charming little place in a suburban or countryside setting. Others like staying smack-dab in the Innenstadt, walkably close to citified attractions. If you'd prefer the latter option and are heading for Stuttgart, Steigenberger's 189-room property stands imposingly huge and deluxe. Directly across Arnulf-Klett-Platz, architect Paul Bonatz's massive Weimar-era Hauptbahnhof sports a 56-meter (183-ft.) tower topped by a Mercedes-Benz star for can't-miss orientation and as a symbol of local automotive prominence.
Dating from 1931 and named for Swabia's dirigible pioneer, "das Graf" dominates the sleek, five-story Zeppelin Carrè complex. Virtually around a corner: Königstrasse, high among Germany's standout shopping corridors. Comparably close: access to the vast Schlossgarten, flanked by vineyard-covered hillsides.
Thick, gold-accented blue carpeting, discreet lighting, and potted greenery soften the lobby's overt business-clientèle atmospherics. Solid Buche beechwood-furnished guest rooms are outfitted with hookups for global communications. Exemplary soundproofing (notice the extra-heavy draperies) muffles the clamor of traffic down on the Platz. Hotel amenities include a Shiseido Day Spa (massages, sauna, solarium, Schwimmbad, "wellness" treatments).
Küchenchef Thomas Heilemann's meal planning justifies Restaurant Olivo's Michelin star for Italian-influenced offerings that include a menu of white truffles from Alba (€42); full meals range €25-30 for such entrée choices as pork chops and sautéed tuna. Swabian specialties (Spätzle, Maultaschen, red Württemberg Trollinger wines) make woodsy Zeppelin Stüble a worthwhile, much-less-costly alternative. Cuban-kitschy Zeppelino's triples as a restaurant-bistro-cigar lounge. In its €17-28 entrée category, opt for beefsteak, swordfish or escallop of turkey (Putenschnitzel). Guests gather for buffet breakfasts in a fifth-floor room-with-a-panoramic-view.—Tom Bross
Daily Rates: Singles €185-225, doubles €220-240.
Contact: Steigenberger Graf Zeppelin, Arnulf-Klett-Platz 7, 70173 Stuttgart,
Rating: QUALITY 17/20, VALUE 15/20