Gemütlichkeit looks at six hotels on Lake Constance—two of which are exceptional.

The southwestern shore of the Bodensee (Lake Constance) is mostly in Switzerland. Though it doesn't possess the breathtaking dramatic Alpine scenery or the affluent surroundings of Switzerland's other major lakes, it has its own distinctive beauty and charm.

In addition, there is much to do and to explore in this region. For example, using the Hotel Krone (or any of the other hotels reviewed here) in the tiny hamlet of Gottlieben on the Untersee of the Bodensee as a base, one can do day trips to such interesting towns as Stein am Rhine, Schaffausen and the Rhine Falls to the West or the busy German town of Konstanz only a few kilometers East. Other interesting options include boarding a car ferry to the German side to such cities as Meersburg, Friedrichshafen and Lindau; a drive southeast along the lake stopping at Swiss lakeside towns such as Romanshorn, Arbon, Horn and Rorschach; perhaps winding up in Bregenz in Austria. Other possibilities include venturing inland to St. Gallen and/or Appenzell. Zürich is an easy drive for a day of shopping.

During our stay, we drove and walked along the lake shore and explored the little town of Gottlieben. However, our most interesting outing was an afternoon in lively Konstanz.

Early in the 15th century, rival popes gathered here with thousands of their supporters to determine several matters, the most important being who would be the one and only pope. After a long and difficult negotiation, the election of Martin V was recognized by all parties.

We parked on the Swiss side in Kreuzlingen and walked across the border without even being asked to show our passports. With the exception of Berlin, Konstanz is about as multi-cultural as a German town gets. Ambling down its crowded, pedestrian-only streets we bumped elbows with many nationalities; especially Turks, who are responsible for some of Germany's finest street food Giros. Every hundred yards, or so it seems, is a little stand roasting layers of meat on a vertical spit which is sliced as needed for these delectable sandwiches.

Something we missed on this trip but will see next time is the Napoleon Museum at Arenenberg, a few kilometers West of Kreuzlingen.

Here are our thoughts on several hotels we either stayed in or inspected. They are listed in the order of our preference.

Strandwirtschaft Schlössli

(Editor's Choice)

This is a near-perfect little hotel full of charm and elegance directly on the Bodensee. The rather plain, four-sided, four-story building's white exterior, capped by a high, steeply-pitched roof with dormer windows, relies on candy-stripped shutters to give it its "little castle" look. In warm weather, its restaurant extends service to a very pleasant lakeside garden with white tables and chairs under massive chestnut trees.

The Schössli's 11 rooms are beautifully decorated, meticulously maintained and come with the usual amenities such as clock radio, minibar, direct dial phone and cable TV (9 channels). Number 34 is a corner room and offers a lake view from one window. Number 31 is also on a corner and slightly larger. The pristine bathrooms are equipped with such extras as hair-dryers, heated towel racks and terry cloth robes.

This is an exceptional small hotel.

Address: Strandwirtschaft Schlössli CH-8598 Bottighofen (near Kreuzlingen)
Phone: 072/75 12 75
Fax: 072/75 15 40
Location: On the water
Rooms: 11
Proprietor: Bruno Lthy
Prices: Singles 110 Sfr. ($85) to 150 Sfr. ($115), doubles 180 Sfr. ($139) to 260 Sfr. ($200)
Facilities: Restaurant, lakeside garden terrace
Credit Cards: All
Disabled: Not suitable
Parking: Free
Rating: 17/20 Excellent G

Romantik Hotel Krone

(Editor's Choice)

The enclave of Gottlieben boasts a population of nearly 300, a 13th century castle which was once used as a prison for the deposed anti-pope John XXIII, and the excellent Romantik Hotel Krone.

The Krone's half-timbered, historic building is in a very quiet location on the lower lake. Its warm, snug interior is notable for low ceilings and dark wood.

It's easy to feel at home in the unpretentious but very comfortable guestrooms. In our room, Number 114, a typical double, we particularly appreciated a pair of easy chairs. Rooms are equipped with the usual amenities: cable TV, minibar and radio.

The Krone has a particularly fine restaurant. Among the highlights of two dinners: blaufelchen, a perch-like lake fish fried very crisp and served with lemon, tartare sauce and boiled potatoes; superb, fresh morel mushrooms with a chicken stuffing in a cognac sauce; a frothy, buttery watercress soup; tournedos of beef in a reduced wine sauce; filets of sole with morels and a marvelous rack of lamb. From the Krone's extensive wine list we chose, while in a celebrative mood, 1981 Lynch Bages, a Bordeaux for 115 Sfr. ($88) and a Pinot Noir from Aigle on Lake Geneva for 27 Sfr. ($21).

Owner-Maître d'hotel Georg Schraner, who speaks excellent English, greets guests with an urbane warmth and is happy to offer recommendations regarding sight-seeing in the region.

We rate the Krone slightly below the Schössli Bottighofen. However, since the hotels are of such differing styles, that preference may be attributed to a matter of personal taste. The Krone and the Schössli are small hotels of exceptional quality and clearly superior to others reviewed here.

Address: Romantik Hotel Krone, Seestrasse 11, CH-8274 Gottlieben
Phone: 072/69 23 23
Fax: 072/69 24 56
Location: On the water
Rooms: About 25, many with water views
Proprietor: Georg and Ingeborg Schraner-Michaeli
Prices: Singles 85 Sfr. ($65) to 125 Sfr. ($96), doubles 135 Sfr. ($104) to 260 Sfr. ($200). Book through Swiss Travel Invention (800-688-7947) and the guaranteed-in-dollars double room price is $172
Facilities: Restaurant, lakeside garden terrace
Credit Cards: All
Disabled: Not suitable
Parking: Free
Comments: Not a convenient hotel for train travelers
Rating: 16.5/20 Excellent G

Hotel Bad Horn

This rather large, lakeside hotel is in Horn, near Arbon, on the Bodensee's southeastern shore.

The four-star Horn offers more services - fitness room, private boat dock, multiple restaurants, bars and a disco - than the foregoing hotels but at the expense of charm. Many of the hotel's guestrooms are decorated like a ship's stateroom with dark wood paneling, shiny brass fittings and various other nautical touches. All have the standard four-star amenities including spacious, well-lit bathrooms, most with double sinks.

Address: Hotel Bad Horn Seestrasse 36, CH-9326 Horn
Phone: 071/41 55 11
Fax: 071/41 60 89
Location: On the water
Rooms: About 40
Proprietor: Urs Hatt
Prices: Singles 75 Sfr. ($58) to 160 Sfr. ($123), doubles 140 Sfr. ($108) to 280 Sfr. ($215)
Facilities: Fitness room, garden terrace with lake view, grill restaurant
Credit Cards: All
Disabled: Not suitable
Parking: Free
Rating: 15/20 Above Average

Seehotel Schiff

We first stayed in this hotel in 1988, again in 1991 and, based on our 1994 visit, can still recommend it.

This is another hotel directly on the water and each of its 18 rooms offers at least a partial lake view. The large, airy rooms, like most of the hotel, are decorated in light, knotty wood with simple furnishings and are equipped with a radio and telephone but no TV.

The informal dining room and, in good weather, the outdoor deck-terrace both have excellent lake views.

The Schiff carries the Swiss Hotel Association's Landgasthof or Country Inn designation which the SHA Guide describes as a "...locally typical restaurant, providing good cuisine, a comfortable lodging sector, and sufficient parking space. It stands out through high quality services and personal attention to guests. These country inns offer food service and pleasant rooms of real Swiss quality."

Address: Seehotel Schiff Mannenbach CH-8268 Mannenbach
Phone: 072/63 41 41
Fax: 072/63 41 50
Location: On the water
Rooms: 18
Prices: Singles 80 Sfr. ($62), doubles 140 Sfr. ($108)
Facilities: Restaurant with lake view
Credit Cards: All
Parking: Free
Rating: 13/20 Above Average $

Hotel Thurgauerhof

There's not a thing wrong with the Thurgauerhof. In fact, much is right with it, particularly the genuinely warm welcome one gets from the friendly Kieni family. Though it's within a 30-minute drive of the lake, the problem with this hotel is that it doesn't quite belong in this group. The Thurgauerhof does a big convention business and thus attracts a business clientèle. And, with 75 rooms, it is much larger than the other hotels discussed here. It simply isn't one of those cozy, cunning, atmospheric little country hotels Switzerland's is famous for.

However, for those who might like to experience life in an ordinary Swiss town that's off the beaten tourist path, and want a spotless, well-equipped hotel room with extremely friendly, helpful service, this might be the place to hide.

Address: Hotel Thurgauerhof CH-8570 Weinfelden
Phone: 054/62 62 62
Fax: 054/61 27 30
Location: Town center
Rooms: About 75, some designated nonsmoking
Proprietor: Peter Kieni
Prices: Singles 95 Sfr. ($73) to 105 Sfr. ($81), doubles 160 Sfr. ($123) to 180 Sfr. ($139)
Facilities: Two restaurants, hairdresser
Credit Cards: All
Disabled: Not suitable
Parking: Free
Rating: 14/20 Above Average G

Seehotel Feldbach

We were disappointed with the Feldbach. The greeting was brusque and none of the hotel's guestrooms are in the turreted, fortress-like main building. Instead they are in a charmless, rather strange, modern structure that is more like an office building than a hotel. The ordinary guest- rooms are alike in size and decor.

Address: Seehotel Feldbach CH-8266 Steckborn
Phone: 054/62 62 62
Fax: 054/61 27 30
Location: On the water
Rooms: 28
Proprietor: Markus Hofmann
Prices: Singles 110 Sfr. ($85) to 120 Sfr. ($92), doubles 150 Sfr. ($115) to 180 Sfr. ($139)
Facilities: Restaurant with lake view, garden terrace
Credit Cards: All
Disabled: Special facilities available
Parking: Free
Rating: 9/20 Average
(U.S. Dollar prices quoted in this issue of Gemütlichkeit may be inaccurate for these reasons:

* Prices in local currency have not been updated since the date of publication of this newsletter, and...
* The dollar prices shown were obtained by using exchange rates in effect at the time of publication.

January 1995