A Decade of Gemütlichkeit

We mark Gemütlichkeit's 10th year with a special 10-page issue. In a year-by-year review of our first decade, we have compiled a "mini" guide to the best of Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

1987

  • In that first January, 1987, issue we reviewed the Gasthof Fraundorfer in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, told readers how to see a first-division German professional fussball (soccer) game and wrote about an excursion from Vienna to Budapest, which had just opened to western travel. We recommended the Budapest Hilton as the place to stay and the Mathias Pince as an atmospheric dinner choice. We cautioned against the huge Grand Hotel Hungaria. Those recommendations are still good today.
  • In a story on backroads travel we said, "automobile touring in Europe offers the ultimate in travel satisfaction. The motorist moves at his own pace and on his own timetable, not someone else's; stops anytime; stays longer or departs earlier, as it suits; has the means to visit the tiniest hamlets; and, finally and simply, turns left instead or right, at whim."
  • Though still advocates of auto travel, since then we have come to better appreciate the joys of seeing Europe by rail.

Other 1987 highlights

  • The lovely backroads drive from Hieflau to Mariazell in Austria. In Mariazell we recommend the simple Gasthof Zum Alten Brauhaus.
  • In Verbier, the Austrian ski resort, we find the extraordinary Hotel Rosalp and its restaurant Pierroz, one of the country's finest. Also noted is the Hotel de la Poste.
  • Zermatt's Le Gitan restaurant is praised for its marinated loin of lamb cooked over a wood fire.
  • We report on 10 small, country "hideout" hotels in Germany, notably the Romantik Hotel Bierhütte and the Hotel Andrea, both in the Bavarian Forest, and the Romantik Hotel Zehntkeller in Iphofen and Schloss Spangenberg, south of Kassel.
  • We review the mountain trains of Switzerland including a description of a ride on the famed Glacier Express.
  • The cheapest subcompact rental car is $138 per week, excluding tax. Currently, that car rents for $109 per week.
  • LTU, the German airline offers a $449 round-trip, New York to Frankfurt. Condor, the Lufthansa charter airline, offers RT prices of $649, $679 and $709 from the West Coast.
  • We review "last night" hotels near the Frankfurt Airport. Our two favorites are the Hotel Dreieich in Langen and the Hotel Birkenhof in Hanau.
  • In April we explain how to get the most from Michelin Red Guides and report the first one was published in 1900 and that in 1901 a new symbol W.C. first appeared. It meant the hotel listed possessed a flush toilet.
  • Gemütlichkeit explains why it is essential that auto travelers use road maps of 1:200,000 scale such as the Mairs Die Generalkarte. Smaller scale maps simply don't show all the small towns and country roads.
  • In Munich we give two stars (out of three) to the Vier Jahreszeiten and also recommend the Hotel An der Oper and the Hotel Adria. Betten Rid, a bedding store, is noted as a place to purchase down comforters and pillows for shipment back to the U.S. Hugendubl, the big Marienplatz bookstore, is the best place for English-language books and for maps and atlases. Colorful soccer shirts from Shuster make good gifts for gentlemen age 7 to 20.
  • Augustiner Gaststätten and Spatenhaus are the top beer restaurants.
  • The Salzburg inn that gets our highest value rating is Pension Wolf in the heart of the old town.
  • A story on Nürnberg recommends the Weinhaus Steichele (hotel) and the Bratwursthusle, the towns temple of Bratwurst where the Eisbein (pork hock or shank) is huge and delicious.
  • In Coburg the recommendations are the Hotel Blankenburg and for food the hotels Restaurant Krutergarten and the cozy Loreley Restaurant, across from Ehrenburg Castle.
  • Appenzell, a tiny Canton in the northeast corner of Switzerland, keeps old traditions alive. We give "excellent" ratings to three hotels: the Hecht, Säntis and Appenzell, with the Hecht getting the nod for value. A restaurant revered by the local farmers is the Marktplatz.
  • Berlin in 1987 is a unique city; surrounded by hostile, communist East Germany. We tell tales about driving to the city from the West and recommend the perfectly located Hotel Am Zoo then moderately-priced and rave about Fofis Estiatario, a chic bistro.
  • From Schaffhausen, on the Rhine at the western end of the Bodensee, we explore the region. In the charming Swiss town of Stein am Rhein two hotels impress us: the Closterhof and the simpler, less expensive Hotel Rheinfels, right on the river. Dinner at the highly touted Fischerzunft is an expensive disappointment.
  • Venturing as far to the northwest as one can go in Germany we discover Sylt a skinny island that contains some of Germany's best hotels and restaurants. The small, elegant country Hotel Benen-Diken-Hof is our favorite of 1987 and one of the best we have seen in the past 10 years. High marks also went to the Stadt Hamburg and the Hotel Wünschmann. At the Restaurant Kapitän Hahn (no longer in business) we had a memorable meal.
  • On a ski trip to Obertauren, about 90 km south of Salzburg, we fall in love with the Hotel Kohlmayr calling it a "near perfect skiers inn."
  • On a trip to Austria we are disappointed by service and food at Schloss Dürnstein, chronicle a backroads drive from Dürnstein to Vienna and recommend the Romantik Hotel Schwarzer Adler in Innsbruck, the Jagdschloss Graf Recke in Wald im Pinzgau and the Gasthof Edelweiss in Gerlos.

1988

  • We begin 1988 with more "hideout" hotels of Germany. The Harzhotel Romantischer Winkel is well off the beaten track in the Harz Mountains and the quirky Hotel Feiler, in that part of Germany, known as Swiss Franconia, has a wonderful restaurant.
  • Switzerland's new hotel category, the Landgasthof, consists of small country hotels with pleasant rooms and good food. We review five, the best of which is Seehotel Schiff on the Bodenseee.
  • Venturing a few kilometers out of our territory into nearby Alsace, we have one of the best meals of our lives at the French three-star restaurant, Auberge de l'Ill.
  • Chalet du Lac, on the Brienzersee, is praised as a quiet country hotel with an excellent restaurant offering good value.
  • Our first issue on Zürich has good things to say about the Hotels Florhof, Zum Storchen, Tiefenau, Splügenschloss and Eden au Lac. Top restaurant is Petermanns Kunststube.
  • A recommended countryside tour is a 21-day affair beginning in Frankfurt, heads south through the Black Forest, on to Stein am Rhein in Switzerland, then to Appenzell, to Bavaria with stops in Mittenwald and Garmisch-Partenkirchen, then to the Bavarian Forest, to Coburg, up to Berlin and back to Frankfurt by way of the Harz Mountains. Total cost, including airfare and car rental, for two persons is about $5800.
  • Aubergine, later to become known as Germany's finest restaurant, comes up just a little short of advance billing.
  • In the Bavarian village of Mittenwald, famous for its violin makers, we find comfortable rooms, great service and good food at the Berghotel Latscheneck.
  • Top ratings go to a marvelous country hotel, the Wald und Schlosshotel Friedrichsruhe.
  • Best Lugano hotel is Villa Principe Leopoldo. We also like Hotel Montalbano, the Splendide Royale and the Grand Hotel Villa Castagnola.
  • Two excellent restaurants in the suburbs of Nürnberg are Gasthof Bammes, which gets our "memorable experience" rating, and the Restaurant Polster.
  • A resort-golf hotel in the Black Forest, the Hotel Öschberghof, is recognized for its value.
  • In our first major coverage of Vienna we give highest marks to the Hotel Imperial and the famed Sacher. Best small hotel is Römischer Kaiser, followed by König von Ungarn and the best hotel value, the Kaiserin Elisabeth. At the Palais Schwarzenberg we spot Greta Garbo lunching alone in a large, private dining room. Michelin-starred Korso is our restaurant choice and Smutny, which attracts musicians from the nearby State Opera, leads the way among unpretentious restaurant/taverns.
  • In Switzerland French-speaking canton of Vaud, we are dazzled by Lausanne's fabulous Hotel Le Beau Rivage Palace. The restaurant La Grappe d'Or provides our second best meal of 1988.
  • Further down the lake in Montreux, we praise the atmospheric Hotel Victoria and give a rave review to a L'Auberge de Chernex, a tiny restaurant-hotel in the hills above the town.
  • On Germany's lovely, meandering Mosel river we discover great charm and value in the Gutshotel des Weingutes, the main house of a former wine estate. In nearby Trier, the Hotel Petrisberg is "just the sort of place we had in mind when we started this newsletter." The best part of this trip, however, is a private interview and tasting with two of Germany's leading winemakers, Egon Müller (Scharzhofberger) and Dr. Manfred Prüm (Wehlener Sonnenuhr).
  • A Südtirol (Italy) excursion yields the welcoming Hotel Cappella.
  • In a drive through Bavaria we enjoy beer and music at the Löwenbrau Stuben Bayrischzell but find the touted Romantik Hotel Die Meindelei deteriorating. Hotel Tonihof, in Eschenloe, is much better. In Pfronten, we find a treasure in the Hotel Bavaria and great calves liver at the Hotel Post.
  • In Switzerland's Emmental, we stumble on to the Hotel Hirschen, where owner Walter Birkhuser opens bottle after bottle of Swiss wine in order to make the point that they are the equal to any in the world. In order to be allowed to go to bed we finally agree. Next morning is the hangover of the decade.
  • Gemütlichkeit is among the very first to report that credit card companies now provide collision damage insurance coverage for those who use the credit card to pay for the rental.

1989

  • In Switzerland's Vaudois Alps we fly by helicopter up to the Les Diableret Glacier one day and float in a hot-air balloon over Château-d'Œx the next. The regions best inn is Bon Acceuil.
  • The Austrian resort of Seefeld has several excellent hotels. Our picks are the
    Bergresort Seefeld and the Hotel Larchenhof.
  • On a one-night stand in Zernez, in Switzerland's Engadine Valley, we find hearty Italian food and decent rooms, both at good prices, at Sport Hotel Bettini.
  • Cologne hotel picks are the Excelsior Hotel Ernst and the Europa. Food at Ristoranti Rino Casati is good, the service much less so. The simpler Alt Köln is a much better value.
  • Best rental price for a compact car for one week in Germany is $138.
  • Best hotel of the year is Schloss Haunsperg, near Salzburg. The hospitality has to be experienced to be believed. Country restaurants near Salzburg are the upscale Weisses Kreuz, the Lebzelter, Schloss Fuschl and the restaurant of the Romantik Hotel Schlosswirt.
  • In Davos, the Swiss ski resort, we give two stars (excellent) to Hotel Walserhof, a favorite of Britain's Prince Charles.
  • In Meersburg, on the German side of the Bodensee, our hotels of choice are the Wilder Mann and the Villa Bellevue.
  • We look for the best small hotels in Munich and find the Exquisit, the Prinzregent, the Palace and the King Ludwig. In the city's Schwabing district we very much like Restaurant Georgenhof and Restaurant 33.
  • Hotel Les Sources Des Alpes, in Leukerbad above Switzerland's Rhône Valley, is the first to get our highest rating ("memorable experience") as both a hotel and restaurant. Here we meet "Mr. T," the sadistic therapist, whose best efforts we negate every night in Les Sources marvelous restaurant and bar.
  • Heidelberg's historic Hotel Hirschgasse is restored following a fire. We give it two stars.
  • Of two castle hotels near Graz, we give a slight edge to Schloss Plankenwarth over Schloss Obermayerhofen, due mostly to the latter's chilly welcome. However, we term Obermayerhofen's Restaurant Hofstberl "an off-the-beaten-track find."
  • Our top hotel choice in Lindau is Garnihotel Reulein, also an excellent value. In nearby Oberreitnau we pig out at Gasthof Adler where "the portions would intimidate all but Henry VIII."
  • Reviewing Vienna's better restaurants we give highest marks to Hotel-Restaurant König von Ungarn, Zu Den Drei Husaren, Restaurant Daniel and Ristorante Firenze Enoteca. Special note is made of the goodies at Wild, a great deli in the Neuermarkt area.

1990

  • We cruise aboard the luxury Danube riverboat, MS Mozart. Splendid accommodations but ordinary food.
  • Communism falls and we send Roger Holliday and Claudia Fischer into the former East Germany. They visit Erfurt, Weimar and Dresden and, not unexpectedly, find bad hotels, almost no restaurants and wonderful people. They meet a Dresden couple who invite them to dinner in their home.
  • In Zürich we rip the Bierhalle Kropf and praise the Restaurant Blaue Ente.
  • Those tireless globetrotters, Holliday and Fischer, report on New Years Eve at a rapidly crumbling Berlin Wall an historic night. They like the Boka Grill just off the Kudamm.
  • We list some 200 German restaurants where a three-course meal can be had for less than $25.
  • We find good value near Interlaken at the Hotel Bren in Wilderswil and a pleasant, well-run hotel in Weggis on Lake Lucerne, the Albana.
  • In Geneva, Hotel Le Richmond gets three stars but not far behind is the smaller Hotel de la Cigogne. We have unfortunate dining experiences at Le Marignac, a Michelin-starred restaurant, and at Brasserie Lipp.
  • In Zürich we give high marks to the Savoy Hotel Baur en Ville and note the Zeughauskeller is the kind of restaurant "we fly 6,000 miles for...dark wood beams, shared tables, extensive menu, adroit servers who have little time to chat and large plates of delicious, farm-style food that goes down best with fresh draught beer." We also discover the Rheinfelder Bierhaus.
  • In Ascona, we enjoy a delightful three days at one of Switzerland's finest country hotels, Albergo Giardino. There, for the first time, we see the Closomat, a device which, through alternating streams of warm water and air, takes the place of toilet paper. A morning hike in the country, led by Hans Leu, the Giardino's high energy owner, finishes with a marvelous lunch at Stazione "da Agnese" in Intragna.
  • A Lake Geneva find is Hostellerie du Débarcardère.
  • Hamburgs tiny (14 rooms) Hotel Abtei gets three stars for a "memorable experience." So does the famed Vier Jahreszeiten. We eat Laubkaus at the Old Commercial Room and give a star to the atmospheric Ratsweinkeller.
  • In Gstaad, where the rich and famous come to ski, we are captivated by Le Grand Chalet, a gloriously upscale country hotel in a pasture above the town. One of the best meals of the year is at the plain Hotel Bahnhof in nearby Saanen.
  • Graz is a revelation. It has everything except hordes of tourists. We find a friendly welcome and good value at the Hotel Erzherzog Johann. Best meal is at Kepler Keller.
  • We describe Hotel Anker in Marktheidenfeld as a "Mercedes Benz of a hotel; solid, not flashy, but everything works and is built to last." its restaurant, the Weinhaus Anker deserves its Michelin star. The Landhaus Hubertushof in Altausee, Austria, gets our "memorable experience" rating. We recommend Schloss Spangenberg in Germany and also the excellent Hotel der Bär in Ellmau, Austria.

1991

  • The Gulf War begins.
  • Eastern European specialists, Roger Holliday and Claudia Fischer, begin the year with reviews and updates of Budapest and Prague. In the former they recommend the inexpensive Hotel Nemzeti and Restaurant Kispipa. In Prague they write of a dinner for two that included "quite a lot of beer" at the pivince (beer hall) U Dvou Kocek for which they pay $3.23. A ride on the Prague metro system is three cents.
  • In Garmisch-Partenkirchen we call the Restaurant Alpenhof the "best in town."
  • Our first story on self-catering rentals appears and includes a two-week European vacation for $1,500 per person including airfare.
  • In Grindelwald our hotel pick is Grand Hotel Regina and the best value is the Hotel-Restaurant Fiescherblick.
  • Gemütlichkeit recognizes that its readers also travel by rail. Train travelers, Holliday and Fischer, give us a six-step, how-to guide on riding the rails of Germany, Austria and Switzerland and then design a tour of Switzerland that matches the country's legendary transport system with five good hotels.
  • We give a star to Hostellerie des Chevaliers in Gruyères, Switzerland.
  • The Gasthof Post and the Rote Wand in Lech in the Austrian Arlberg are awarded "excellent establishment" ratings. An inexpensive, atmospheric restaurant is the Bodenalpe.
  • Holliday/Fischer report on a tour of Northern Germany. They liken Goslar to Rothenburg but without American tourists and give high marks to Hotel Villa Berger. Celle, they say, is pretty enough to be a movie set. Their hotel pick is Hotel Caroline Mathilde.
  • Regensburg's old town hasn't been touched by war since 1809. The hotel pick there is the Altstadthotel Arch. Top values are the Kaiserhof Am Dom and the Münchner Hof. Best food is at Historisches Eck; best cheap food at the Hofbräuhaus.
  • The relatively inexpensive Swiss lakeside town of Brienz is central to many of the country's major attractions. We report on Ballenberg, the outdoor, farm museum and the woodcarving factory, H. Huggler-Wyss. One of Switzerland's better luxury hotel bargains is the Grandhotel Giessbach; the much cheaper Brienzer-Brli gets our "significant value" rating.
  • In a review of Vienna's three-star hotels, our choice is the Kärntnerhof.
  • Combining good value and charm in the Black Forest if the Hotel Dorer in Schnwald.
  • Our rating system is revamped. It is not a change for the better. In Lausanne we give a star ("cut above restaurants in its price class") to Restaurant La Croix d Ouchy.
  • In Freiburg we have a glorious meal at the Hotel Markgräfler Hof, most noteworthy for the "right on" wine recommendations of owner Hans Leo Kempchen, and another at the less expensive Gasthaus zum Kreuz in nearby Kappel. Hotels of choice are the Park Hotel Post and Gasthaus zum Kreuz.

1992

  • Continuing our search for good value we review 11 three-star Munich hotels. The best are the Exquisit, the Olympic and the Hotel Kraft, which also wins a "significant value" designation.
  • We rip Morley Safer and "60 Minutes" who urge Americans to stay home from Europe because, among other reasons, our collective exhaling of carbon dioxide is destroying such treasures as the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Since our comments, the shows ratings have plummeted. Yeah, not dropped, PLUMMETED. We just don't get easy targets like that anymore.
  • Tiny Wildhaus in Switzerland's St. Gallen canton is way off the beaten track. its splendid country chalet, Hotel Alpenrose, gets an "excellent" rating plus a "G" award.
  • Our small hotels search continues in Salzburg where top ratings goes to the Trumer Stube, followed by the Goldfassan and the low budget Hotel K & F. We like the food at Zwettlers, Peterskeller and give an "editors choice" to Zum Mohren.
  • We cover Bad Pyrmont, a spa town south of Hanover, and get a few complaints that there are "too many old people" in the town. Nonetheless, it is a beautiful city and our top hotel choice is Bürgkerpark. Best value is the Schlossblick.
  • Two very different but very good hotels are at each end of an interesting drive from Sion to Kandersteg (Switzerland) via the Lötschberg Car Train. Hotel Des Vignes is French and modern, and Waldhotel Doldenhorn in Kandersteg is traditional and German-speaking. The Doldenhorn is special.
  • Schloss Sommersdorf is one-of-a-kind: a 700-year-old drawbridge castle with apartments for rent (inexpensive) and mummies in the basement.
  • One of our periodic country hotel reports results in an "editors choice" for Gasthof zum Löwen in Worb near Bern and an "underachiever" label for the somewhat weird Schloss Feyregg.
  • Switzerland's 100 best restaurants in 1992 are topped by Girardet in Crissier (near Lausanne), Petermanns Kunststuben (Zürich), Le Pont-de-Brent (Montreux), Stucki (Basel) and Restaurant Pierroz in the Hotel Rosalp (Verbier).
  • One of the better simple meals of the year is at Restaurant zum Trmli in Watt, Switzerland, about 10 minutes from the Zürich Airport.
  • In "post-Wall" Berlin, hotel prices skyrocket. Seeking good value we find Hotel Domus, Kronprinz and, on the eastern side, Hotel Gendarm. The Hotel Brandenburger Hof, though not cheap, is very, very chic. We discover a fine, mid-priced neighborhood restaurant, the Florian.
  • The dollar flounders and we layout a 14-day auto tour for slightly more than $2,000 per person including airfare.
  • Near the Bavarian Royal Castles in Seeg, we unearth one of the more important hotel finds of the decade: Pension Heim. The nearby Gasthof Hirsch is also a low budget treasure. In Füssen our choices are Landhaus Sommer am See and the Fürstenhof, both good value.
  • In a review of five-star Swiss hotels, we ascend to Bürgenstock above Lake Lucerne to stay at the posh Park Hotel and rate it "excellent." Because of the room and the view, dinner at Club Bürgenstock is a lovely experience but we find the food not very creative. Zürich's Dolder Grand is indeed grand but dinner in its La Rotonde Restaurant is memorable only for undistinguished food and careless service.
  • In an issue on Berchtesgaden we meet the Hotel Geiger, our "Hotel of the Year." We find good value at Hotel Gasthof Bergheimat.
  • Holliday/Fischer update Prague. Their restaurant picks are U Semi Andelu and U Cerneho Slunce.

1993

  • Readers seek information on vacation rentals (Ferienwohnungen) and we publish Karl Becker's report on two months of travel throughout Germany using this type of accommodation. His average cost of lodging, all with private bath, is about $41 per day for two persons
  • In Interlaken we use such phrases as "sumptuous guest rooms," "most lavish spa we've ever seen" and "ornate, exquisitely Victorian public rooms" in describing the Hotel Victoria Jungfrau. With Badgastein's Grüner Baum (see below) it is our "Hotel of the Year."
  • Kur-und Sport Hotel Adam, in Bodenmais near the Czech border, is a value choice with its own brewery.
  • At the urging of readers we finally get around to the Hotel Grüner Baum in the old Austrian spa town of Badgastein. It is Gemütlichkeit's Country Hotel of the Decade. Other fine hotels in the town are Haus Hirt, also a good value; the classy little Villa Solitude; and the inexpensive but sparkling Landhaus Gletschermühle. Restaurant Brasserie in the Villa Solitude is a "cut above" other restaurants in its category.
  • Best hotel in the remote Swiss village of Wengen is the Regina. Good value is the Alpenruhe.
  • Our last stay at Zürich's Hotel Florhof under the direction of the courtly Herr Schilter. He retires a few months later and the hotel loses some of its charm. At Restaurant Kronenhalle we are in awe of the restaurant's paintings (Mir, Cézanne, Monet, Latrec, Matisse, Klee, Chagall, Braque and others, all originals). A waiter, noting our interest, gives us an impromptu tour including the history and background of the more prominent works.
  • Holliday/Fischer report on Würburg and dub Gasthof Zur Stadt Mainz the hotel that best combines charm, hospitality and value. The 500-year-old Backfle is their choice for food.
  • In Kitzbühel the clear choice is Romantik-Hotel Tennerhof. Also very nice is Golf-Hotel Ramushof. The Hotel Haus Christophorus is a fine value and Restaurant Chizzo serves good food at moderate prices.
  • Holliday/Fischer give us our first report on tourist mecca Rothenburg ob der Tauber. The well-known Eisenhut gets good marks, especially its restaurant, but a better value is Hotel Reichs-Küchenmeister.
  • We report on a new hotel near Lugano. The art-filled Albergo Gardenia, including its two restaurants Bacco and Grotto Valle, is an enthusiastic "editors choice."
  • In beautifully preserved Bamberg, "editors choice" designations go to Hotel-Restaurant St. Nepomuk, Hotel Weinhaus Messerschmidt and the lower-priced Hotel-Gasthof Wilde Rose. Noted for its smoky beer (Rauchbier) and friendly atmosphere is Brauerei Schlenkerla.
  • We devote two issues to Switzerland's Engadine and find Pontresina is less expensive and more charming than nearby St. Moritz. A truly first-rate hotel there is the Kronenhof. La Collina is also recommended, particularly its restaurant. We give Restaurant Sarazena an unfavorable review. On a mountain above Scuol we find a great country hotel, the beautiful Schloss-Hotel Chast. Another "editors choice" in Scuol is Romantik Hotel Guardaval and Hotel Chasa Belvair gets a "significant value" designation. In more charming Zuoz, our picks are Schlosshotel Castell and the simpler Hotel Klarer.
  • Stuttgart is the subject of Holliday/Fischer report. The hotel choice is the Wörtz zur Weinsteige. Best meal is in the restaurant of Hotel Schlossgarten. Other restaurants of choice are Weinstube Stuttgarter Stäffele and Weinstube Bacchus.
  • Train guru Bruce Woelfel makes his first Gemütlichkeit appearance with a how-to story on using the Swiss railway network.

1994

  • The Gemütlichkeit rating system is revised again. its basis is now a 20 point scale. The "G" for special places and the "$" for significant value remain.
  • We return to Vienna to seek out the city's best pensions. Tops is Otto Wiesenthal's Altstadt Vienna (our 1994 "Hotel of the Year"), followed closely by Pension Aviano in the very heart of the Ring. Worthwhile restaurants noted are Boheme and Zur Hohen Brücke Gstatte. An old favorite, Smutny, seems to have slipped.
  • A tour of Baroque churches of southwestern Germany begins with a stay at a pleasant, new Swiss country inn, the Chseren. Along the way we enjoy the Hotel Falken in Memmingen, Germany.
  • In Bremen, Fischer/Holliday give high marks to Hotel Lichtsinn and like the food at the Ratskeller.
  • We become infatuated with the Austrian country town of Steyr. Quality and value is found at Hotel Mader on the main square. Another value and less expensive is Schwechater Hof. Cheapest of all, but still recommended, Gasthof Pöchhacher.
  • St. Gallen's best hotel, not surprisingly, turns out to be the Einstein. We also like the quirky Rössligump. For meals typical of the region, we like Restaurant Anker.
  • We send Bruce Woelfel to Austria where he reports on Hallstatt and a scenic train trip along the Enns river. In Hallstatt he says the "best, friendliest and most expensive" hotel is the Grüner Baum, but his top choice is the much less expensive Haus Sarstein.
  • In our first look at Neuchâtel and La Chaux-de-Fonds the "editors choice" hotels are the Beaufort and the du Vaisseau and the Club. Top restaurant choices are the three in the Hotel-Restaurant du Marche. Intriguing sights are the International Museum of Horology and the Jaquet-Droz Automatons.
  • A rebuilding Dresden gets the full treatment. Most hotels are rated "above average" but Hotel Martha offers the best value. The Bayerischer Hof is the best of those we see. Bruce Woelfel, who loves trains and especially dining on trains, reports on his lunch at 125 MPH on the Heinrich Heine between Dresden and Mannheim.
  • A story on apartment rental in Switzerland reports good values in Ticino, Valais, the Engadine, Northeastern Switzerland and especially in the Bernese Oberland namely Ringgenberg near Interlaken where one bedroom units are $45 to $65 per night.
  • Baden-Baden has many good to great hotels. In September, we single out Waldhotel Forellenhof and Hotel Rebenhof, a hotel in the vineyards, for rustic charm and value. For luxury we like the Quisisana. The expensive Romantik Der Kleine Prinz a little too cute for our taste and, while the well-known Brenners Park is undeniably a great hotel, there are a few glitches with our stay.
  • In Graz, Bruce Woelfel gives a "significant value" rating to the Hotel Ohnime in the Mariatrost section of town.
  • One of the top 20 hotels of the decade turns out to be Kneippkurhaus Christliches Hospiz in Oberstdorf, Germany. Best value in town is the Hotel Adler.

1995

  • Bruce Woelfel starts the year with a report on Prague where he recommends the City-Hotel Moran, the Hotel Adria-Praha and the Restaurant Adria (no relation to the hotel).
  • "Editors Choice" hotels on the Swiss side of the Bodensee are Schössli Bottighofen near Kreuzlingen and Romantik Hotel Krone in Gottlieben.
  • Canadian travel writer, John Herbert, reports on apartment and chalet rental in Austria. Areas with low prices and wide selection include the Montafon valley in the Vorarlberg; the Zillertal Alps; Strobl, 25 miles southeast of Salzburg; and the Klopeiner See region near Klagenfurt.
  • We ask Bruce Woelfel to do the near impossible: find good, inexpensive to moderately priced, hotels in Zürich. The Hotel Bristol and Hotel Scheuble both provide doubles under $150. As for restaurants, he chooses the St. Gotthard Café, the Zeughauskeller and the restaurant in the Hotel Florhof.
  • Returning to Berlin, we praise the Hotel Savoy and the value offered by the huge Radisson Plaza, but only when special rates are available. Gasthaus Krombacher is noted for its friendly atmosphere and reasonable prices.
  • Highest possible marks and our "Hotel of the Year" award go to one of the finest country hotel and restaurants of the decade, L'Ermitage in Vufflens near Morges on Lac Léman. The Auberge de la Couronne in nearby Apples is an excellent value and has a fine restaurant.
  • In Zell am See, in Austria, our hotel choices are the Hotel Berner and the Feinschmeck. Excellent country cuisine at good prices is Gasthof Steinerwirt.
  • Lausanne's new Musee Olympique is a triumph of great sculpture, Olympic memorabilia and multimedia presentation.
  • Bruce Woelfel uses his Entertainment Europe card to get a 50% discount at Budapest's Hotel Gellert, which he rates "above average." His top restaurant choice is the Araybarany and he even recommends the folkloric dinner show at Hotel Tanne.
  • Gemütlichkeit returns to Heidelberg where hotel prices rival those in Berlin, Hamburg and Munich. We conclude that the Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza is the best value, but only if one books in the U.S. through the main Holiday Inn reservation service. Even the simple Gasthof Hackteufel has double rooms as high at 250 DM ($190). Kurpflzisches is our restaurant pick this time around.
  • We publish the first leg of our "Grand Tour," a self-guided affair that incorporates many of our favorite cities, towns, villages, sights, hotels and backroads. It is 14 days, starts in Zürich and ends in Frankfurt. Some of the stops along the way are Appenzell, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Munich, the Bavarian Forest and Bamberg.
  • In September, for the first time we address the issue of travel planning online and conclude that the conventional methods—telephone, travel agents, guidebooks—are still easier, quicker and more reliable.
  • In Lucerne we review a batch of expensive hotels and choose the Hotel Montana as the one that best combines luxury with value. Our restaurant pick is Zunfthaus zu Pfistern.
  • "Grand Tour - Part II" is routed over some of Austria's most scenic roads and includes stops in Zell Am See, Salzburg, Murau, Graz, Rust and Vienna.
  • Basel, a wonderful city that draws few American visitors, gets two "editors choice" hotels, the Drei Könige and, by the railway station, the Hotel St. Gotthard. We also report on the city's outstanding zoo and the good food at Restaurant Der Teufelhof.
  • In a return to Prague, Holliday/Fischer discover the tiny Hotel Sidi, by the Charles Bridge, and give an "editors choice" to Restaurant Kampa Park.

1996

  • We begin the 10th year with John Herbert's story on good value rentals in Switzerland's Emmental, where an apartment near Langnau with kitchen, dining room, living room, bedrooms and bath rents for less than $55 per day.
  • Holliday/Fischer report on a one-day rail excursion from Salzburg that includes a four-hour walk from Badgastein to Bad Hofgastein.
  • In Hamburg Bruce Woelfel gives an editors choice to Hotel Hafen Hamburg. His unfavorable comments on the welcome and service at Restaurant Peter Lembcke sets off a lively series of letters in "Readers Forum" about whether Northern Germans are a frosty lot who don't much like Americans or whether Americans don't dress properly when dining abroad or pay enough attention to local customs.
  • The friendly Hegers Parkhotel Flora in the Black Forest gets an "editors choice."
  • In the Austrian lakeside town of Attersee we find a good selection of moderately-priced accommodations, including the Hotel-Seegasthof Oberndorfer and several pleasant apartments.
  • Gemütlichkeit contributor Karen Pasold reports on the Hotel Weinhaus am Alten Markt in the picturesque German town of Miltenberg.
  • In Germany's most popular resort, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, we tag fun-loving Gasthof Fraundorfer as the "prototype Bavarian inn." Other "editors choice" selections: Hotel Berggasthof Panorama, Hotel Sonnenbichl and Ferienwohnungen Regina.
  • Twenty-five-year-old Gemütlichkeit staffer Andrew Bestor reports on 16 days in the excellent campgrounds of Germany and Switzerland. He and significant other Margaret discover they can, except for airfare, see Europe for less than $50 per day each. One night they, like many Gemütlichkeit folk before them, drink a little too much beer at the Fraundorfer in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
  • In an update on Munich we revisit a number of old favorites including Restaurant zum Bürgerhaus, where we have a terrible meal, and the Hotel Adria which is still o.k. but beginning to need refurbishment. Two hotels we still like very much are the Domus and the Exquisit.
  • Karen Pasold reports on an extended stay in Budapest. Out of some 25 hotels and restaurants reviewed, "editors choice" designations go to Kempinski Hotel Corvinus, the Astoria Hotel, Hotel Mercure Korona and restaurants Százéves, Kisbuda Gyöngye, Múzeum and Paksi Halvendéglö.
  • Gemütlichkeit returns to Berlin, a city in the throes of massive changes, to see the worlds largest construction project at Potsdamer Platz and the resurrection of Friedrichstrasse, which, before the war, was the towns premiere shopping, entertainment and business street.
  • Switzerland's spa industry has spent more than half a billion dollars in the last six years on new and updated facilities. We report on six spa hotels.
  • We never tire of Vienna, Europe's music center. This time around we find a stunning new hotel, Das Triest, and a lively, moderately-priced Beisel, Spatzennest.