The Black Forest, known as a source of fairy tales, carved wooden cuckoo clocks, smoked hams and cakes of dark chocolate with fresh cream and sour cherries, has for centuries beckoned travelers who want to experience its beautiful scenery and enjoy its long standing traditions and warm hospitality. Nowadays, they also come to dine in Michelin starred restaurants, hike along trails through the dense woods then relax at one of its elegant spas…they want to enjoy the Black Forest at its best.
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Locally known as the Schwarzwald, this storied region in the southwestern part of Germany, is a traveler’s delight. As you travel across mountains, through dense, dark forests and rolling green valleys dotted with farmhouses, you will spot historic castles and pass through medieval town squares filled with traditional half-timbered buildings with gabled roofs and geranium filled window boxes.
Take a walk in one of the quaint villages and you are sure to find a restaurant where you can enjoy a good meal of Black Forest specialties served with wine from the region’s vineyards and finish with a Schnapps made from plums, pears or cherries from area orchards. All of this along with clean mountain air and healing mineral waters, makes for a memorable holiday in one of the most picturesque areas in Germany.
For the past two years, when my husband and I planned our fall trips to the Black Forest, we knew that we wanted to stay at the small and elegant Hotel Bareiss in Baiersbronn-Mitteltal. I’ve written before about its outstanding hospitality, wonderful facilities and the delicious cuisine served at the three star Michelin Restaurant Bareiss and I totally agree with others who say it is one of the best hotels in Germany and one of Europe’s finest luxury wellness hotels.
What makes the Hotel Bareiss so special…I would say everything. There is the lovely setting in the heart of the Black Forest, the tastefully decorated rooms, the relaxing spa and pool areas, the wonderful cuisine, organized activities to keep you busy all day and the finest German hospitality shown by the staff that tries to make everything you wish for possible. They all go hand in hand to create a truly enjoyable holiday experience.
When I made our reservations for our latest stay, I was told there was lovely room available in the same category I wanted that had “a better view” than the room we had stayed in on our previous visit. When I mentioned that we had really liked the Weissenbachtal room, with its nice living and bedroom area, a walk-in closet and balcony with a pretty view that we had stayed in before, I was told “yes, but of course”. Stepping back into the same room on this visit felt a little like returning home and as for the view…I’ll let you decide.
The hotel has five beautifully designed guest dining rooms and we were seated in the lovely Biedermeier Room during our visit this year. You can also make reservations for dinner in one of the three à la carte restaurants, including the award winning Restaurant Bareiss but you need to book well in advance for it.
After a wonderful nights sleep, each morning we would head down to the breakfast buffet where there is always a large selection of breads, hams, sausages, cheese and both cold and warm specialties to choose from. Just ask and fresh eggs will be prepared to your liking and served along with coffee, tea, juice or even champagne, if you wish.
In the evening, each splendid meal starts with a large salad buffet and finishes with cheese and desserts. In between, you order your meal from a wonderfully varied la carte menu. On Saturday night, there is a special seven course gala menu and a rose is presented to each of the ladies.
After dinner, we would usually head to the hotel bar for a digestif and listen to the live entertainment. What we like about the lounge is that there is a separate smokers’ lounge so that you never have to sit in a smoke filled room while enjoying a cocktail.
The Bareiss makes the ideal base for day trips to popular destinations such as the charming university town of Freiburg to the south and the fashionable spa town of Baden-Baden to the north as well as Strasbourg and Colmar, which are not too far across the border in the Alsace region of France. After a day of exploring the region, we would return to the hotel in the afternoon for something sweet from the cake buffet before heading to the pools, sauna world and the quiet relaxation areas.
All good things must come to an end and after a wonderful five day stay, we needed to say “auf wiedersehen”. We packed, our suitcases were then loaded in our car for us and we were wished safe travels as we drove away from the Hotel Bareiss and headed to Munich for our flight back home. Will we return to the Bareiss if we are ever in the Black Forest again…absolutely.
Folklore and fairytales, chocolate cake and Michelin starred meals, winding scenic back roads through small villages and hiking trails through the woods, they are all things that bring visitors to the Black Forest. What I’ve never come across during our many visits to the region are witches, wolves and wicked stepmothers. I think you too would enjoy a visit.