Schaffhausen/Stein am Rhine Hotels
A century ago, seven hotels greeted travelers emerging from the Schaffhausen train station. One remains: the privately-owned Hotel Bahnhof, in the fourth generation of the same family. The four-star hotel consists of 52 well-appointed rooms spread across four buildings built between 1798 and 1954. Given its location across the street from the station and adjacent to the old city, it's not surprising that nearly 80 percent of the hotel's guests are walk-ins.
Though privately owned, the hotel is affiliated with Best Western. Guest rooms are spacious with pleasant, if not elegant, surroundings. Upper stories provide views of the narrow streets of the old city and of the Munot Fortress. Windows are double- or triple-glazed, depending on location, to reduce or eliminate street noise.
Daily Rates: Singles CHF 150-185, doubles CHF 230-270, suites CHF 350. Garage parking is CHF 14.
Rating: Quality 13/20, Value 14/20
Built in 1414 as a private dwelling, the Kronenhof became a hostelry in 1489 and later became one of the best-known inns along the upper Rhine. Even Goethe spent the night, or so the story goes. Extensive renovations completed in 2000 kept as much of the original architecture as possible - and eliminated all remnants of 1970s renovations.
Of the 40 guestrooms, Number 402 (shower only) is a delightful double with an ample balcony with a view of the castle and vineyards. Number 413 (bath and shower) features a balcony over the peaceful courtyard. One nice touch: an ironing room for guests.
Daily Rates: Singles CHF 130, doubles CHF 140-160
Rating: Quality 12/20 Value 13/20
Hotel Park Villa
Although it's barely 400 meters (1,225 feet) from the railway station, the Hotel Park Villa feels miles away, thanks to its location in a beautiful wooded park overlooking the city. The hotel was built in 1900 as a private home by a Hungarian merchant who told his architect to spare no expense. The result is a five-story Jugendstil villa with a somewhat over-the-top design and with towers and chimneys as crooked and whimsical as the headwear of the "Cat in the Hat." Inside, it's a step back 100 years, thanks in great part to the abundance of furniture, statues and decorations that the original owner brought from a Hungarian castle, and to the creativity, dedication and antique-finding skills of Max Schlumpf, the villa's soft-spoken but animated owner.
In the evening, many guests relax with cognac and pastries in the Schlossbar, a distinctive early 1900s salon with antique lamps and furniture. Others sit outside in the gardens, conversing by torchlight. In the morning, they gather for breakfast under a massive chandelier and park themselves firmly in hand-carved chairs with period upholstery.
The Park Villa offers a range of 27 rooms, from cramped singles to the deluxe former bedroom (room 17) of the villa's first owner, complete with hand-carved 1827 four-poster bed, parquet floors, Persian rug, ample antiques and a private oriel with a view to the rear. Most rooms fall somewhere in between. Room 19, for example, is huge, with a private balcony and spacious bathroom. It's best to discuss preferences with Schlumpf, who has a long track record of finding the right rooms for his guests.
Daily Rates: Single with shared bath CHF 78-98, single with private bath CHF 149-169, double with shared bath CHF 130, double with private bath CHF 179-229, suites CHF 249-308. Free parking.
Rating: Quality 16/20, Value 16/20
Villa Iris is a work of love that Gaby and Piewo Rudin have made their life. The 1897 Jugendstil home had fallen into disrepair when the couple bought it. Much of the original structure and adornments remain: ironwork, windows, a functioning Kachelofen (tile oven), marble floors and rosette ceilings. But even more of Villa Iris results from Piewo's abilities as a painter and sculptor and from Gaby's knack of finding just the right pieces to make this house a home away from home. Evidence of Piewo's work is everywhere, from straightforward renovation to painstaking painting and plasterwork. They're the perfect match to Gaby's finds, like art deco lamps, Chinese lions at the doorway ("for good luck"), faucets with swan-shaped spouts, and her extensive collection of antique dolls.
Guestrooms are huge and filled with antiques and the Rudins' personal touches. (All rooms also have private toilet and bath and/or shower.) Number 4 has an antique marble fireplace, an ornate rosette ceiling, and a view to the hills. Room 7 has a large wooden balcony with wrought-iron railings and view to the backyard, a Kachelofen, a Jacuzzi tub set in marble, a working fireplace framed in bronze andirons from an old French castle, and wallpaper Gaby found in England and carried home. Number 1 is on the ground floor and entered through 200-year-old doors with their original locks. The 250-year-old carved wooden farmer's closet stands across from a massive bed. Number 5 is in Louis XVI style, with original period pieces, with Gaby's stuffed animal collection across the top of a closet and antique handbags on the bookshelves.
Despite the comfort of the rooms, most guests wander outdoors to find a quiet place to read, chat or doze—perhaps by the small lily-pond stocked with carp and goldfish. The villa is a 10-minute walk from the train station and three minutes from the #6 bus. There's free parking in front of the house.
Contact: Villa Iris, Eigerstrasse 17, CH-8200 Schaffhausen, tel./fax +41/052/6256550
Daily Rates: Singles CHF 100, doubles CHF 140
Rating: Quality: 16/20, Value 17/20
Hotel Zunfthaus zum Rüden
The Hotel Zunfthaus is one of Schaffhausen's dozen elaborate guildhalls, built 280 years ago by the city's food merchants. Many of the public spaces are elegant, like the stunning ballroom with parquet floors, detailed stucco and dazzling chandelier, and the grand staircase with its original wood and stone landings.
History is evident in guestrooms as well, with many wood beams and stone walls. All are spacious and straightforward, with the expected conveniences (showers only).
Until its remodeling in 1999, the hotel was a meeting facility, and today the majority of guests are still business people. Only fifth-floor rooms are high enough to look out over the rooftops of the city, and Number 506 is the only double on the floor. On the third floor, both Numbers 301 and 302 provide views of the Munot fortress, as well as of adjacent half-timber buildings. All rooms are nonsmoking. It's ideally situated in the pedestrian zone just a two-minute walk from the rail station.
Daily Rates: Single CHF 145, double CHF 220-250. Some weekend discounts.
Rating: Quality 14/20, Value 14/20
While the hotel itself is beautiful, the external architecture - jagged glazed-brick walls - clashes with Stein am Rhein's old town, which starts just across the street. Perhaps it was the excess of the 1980s, when it was built, or an expression of Scandinavian design by its Danish owner, but it's a visual assault on the quiet village. Most guests, however, don't come for the history. The hotel is used primarily by business people, who generally appreciate its private bar, sauna, swimming pool, fitness center and gourmet restaurant (on a terrace overlooking the river).
The hotel's 71 rooms are modern and spacious (all at least 35 square meters/290 square feet), with all the amenities. All have balconies, but only suites have Rhine views. Furnishings are rustic, but elegant. Mahogany furniture in the bedrooms and marble floors in the bathrooms help lend a historic feeling, as do the four-poster beds in 10 of the rooms.
Daily Rates: Singles CHF 220-250, doubles CHF 270-310, suites CHF 450-550. Parking is CHF 12.
Rating: Quality 16/20, Value 12/20
For most of its 400-year history, the Rheinfels in Stein am Rhein has been a customs house, a warehouse and a guild house. Today, it's an unpretentious, clean and pleasant hotel with a super location immediately at the Rhine. The 17 rooms are decorated simply but pleasantly. Unless someone has an extended interest in Stein am Rhein, the hotels of Schaffhausen offer greater variety and services. However, it's extremely tempting to book the Rösli suite, which has a superb view of the Rhine and the homes on the left bank.
Daily Rates: Single CHF 130, doubles CHF 180. Rösli suite with private terrace on Rhine: single CHF 190, double CHF 250.
Rating: Quality 11/20 Value 13/20