Charming landscapes, beautiful medieval villages with half-timbered buildings and castles perched high on hilltops. Lovely hotels with an interesting blend of old and new, wonderful spas and delicious meals in star rated restaurants. Castles, Spas and Michelin Stars, if that sounds interesting then follow along over the next few weeks as I travel through Germany and Austria.
After a long flight across the ocean and just an hour’s drive north of Stuttgart airport, the Wald & Schlosshotel Friedrichsruhe, is the perfect place to start a vacation. As you walk through the grounds of the hotel, you have the feeling that you have been invited for a stay at someone’s elegant country home. This large manor house and the surrounding buildings were once part of the summer residence and hunting lodge of Count Fredrich II, who later became Prince of Hohenlohe. Hohenlohe is a region that is not very well known to tourists visiting Germany, so the hotel is like finding a little secret escape.
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Walk inside and you will be warmly welcomed. After you have checked in, you can visit the fireside lounge and bar where you can enjoy a delicious piece of pastry or perhaps a cocktail before the evening meal. There is a nicely decorated cigar lounge, if you are so inclined, where you can smoke, read a paper or watch TV.
This is a small boutique hotel with 66 rooms spread over four buildings. The rooms are individually decorated in several different styles. Some rooms have antiques, others have a country feel and the rooms in the spa building, where we stayed, are decorated in a contemporary style with beautiful woods, stone and leather.
The hotel has four restaurants ranging from a simple tavern, a spa bistro, the Jägerstube, a cosy restaurant that serves regional cuisine. The Gourmet restaurant, which has been awarded one Michelin star, serves exceptional international gourmet cuisine. The restaurants are under the guidance of Chef Boris Benecke. The young chef has worked with such famous chefs as Heinz Winkler, Harald Wohlfart and Dieter Müller. His team includes Dominique Metzger, considered one of the best maître d’ in Germany and Jochen Benz, one of the top sommeliers in the country. I believe that a second Michelin star is not far off. I would describe Chef Benecke’s cuisine as classical French that has been modernized and lightened, using seasonal and regional products.
The hotel is not only proud of their famous restaurant but of their highly recognized spa. This year the hotel was awarded 4 lilies, and 20 points by the 2013 Relax Guide, the highest rating that can be given to a hotel, and the only one in all of Germany to receive this honor. The modern spa with two story windows overlooking the gardens is stunning with its dark woods, natural stone and neutral colored fabrics.
The spa and wellness center has an outdoor and indoor pool with a fireplace, saunas, steam room, and an ice grotto and many treatment rooms. During our stay, my husband enjoyed a massage while I had a facial treatment with Vin Sano products. The products are made from local grapes, using the seeds, cold-pressed grape seed oil and extracts from red wine. It was a delightful way to help us overcome jet lag.
If you want a more active experience, the hotel has a high-tech fitness center, a tennis court, a 27-hole golf course, and walking trails through the surrounding area. As tempting as it would have been to never leave the hotel, we had to get out and explore this wonderful region. Within a thirty minute drive of the hotel, were three lovely little towns with castles.
Hohenlohe is a region located in the German state of Baden Württemberg, between Heidelberg and Rothenburg ob der Tauber. I couldn’t get over how lovely this area of rolling hills, vineyards, fruit orchards, castles and quaint villages was and yet undiscovered by tourists. I was looking for castles, spas and Michelin stars and I found all of that and more during my visit to Wald & Schlosshotel Friedrichsruhe.