We wind up Gemütlichkeit's 11th year with the annual selection of the best of the past year. Also included is a list of readers' recommendations in 1997.
At the end of each of the previous 10 years, we have identified the cream of the crop of hotels, restaurants and various other establishments encountered in our travels for recognition as winners of our Gemütlichkeit "G" awards. These have typically been places where we felt something a little extra: particularly caring management, genuine hospitality and a special warmth or coziness. The word for it is gemütlichkeit.
This year we've decided to expand this concept and include whatever stands out from the crowd be it a hotel, restaurant, person, or place. The emphasis, of course, is on gemütlichkeit, good value and places off the beaten track. Those chosen are our strongest recommendations.
The jury this year was composed of contributors to Gemütlichkeit in 1997: in addition to myself that includes Liz Bestor, Roger Holliday, Claudia Fischer, Andy Bestor and Margaret Landeros. We strongly recommend each of the following "G" winners.
Cities, Towns & Villages
- Atop this category is Weimar, an historic German town shaking off the dust and cobwebs of 45 years of Communism and about to emerge as a prime tourist attraction. See it soon.
- Cesky Krumlov, in the southwestern Czech Republic, is a medieval treasure. The town rests in a great curve of the Vltava river and a beautiful castle hovers above it on a bluff. Old-world to the max. Rothenburg-level charm. Getting popular fast. See it now.
- Ljubljana. We reserve the right to report on excursions from our three countries; this is one. Contributing editors Holliday-Fischer were delighted by Slovenia and capital. Reports we've had from subscribers agree with them.
- Sion and Evolne. The oldest town in Switzerland, Sion, has a striking skyline, an interesting old town and lots of history. Evolne is an authentic mountain village unspoiled by tourism and probably much the same as it was 50 years ago.
- Tübingen. Stands out for its magnificent, original old town and for its lack of tourists.
Hotel Am Schloss
- Holliday-Fischer praised this hotels hospitality and location, but reserved the highest accolade for their assigned guestroom (Number 20), which they say is among the best they have ever had.
- Hotel Am Schloss, Burgsteige 18, D-72070 Tübingen, tel. +49/07071/9294-0, fax 9294-10, singles 99 to 130 DM ($57-$74), doubles 124-148 DM ($71-$85). Room #20 -185 DM ($106)
Wolffs Art Hotel
- Stunning interior design a 90s version of Bauhaus/Art Nouveau that features a unique collection of Polish and Czech poster art, plus a congenial welcome combine to make this hotel Weimar's best. Try guestrooms number 13 and 14 at 260 DM ($148). Good value and our "Hotel of the Year."
- Wolffs Art Hotel & Restaurant, Freiherr-vom-Stein-Allee 3a/b, D-99425 Weimar, tel. 5 40 60, fax 54 06 99, singles 150 DM ($86), doubles 190 DM ($109), suites 240 to 260 DM ($137-$149)
Hostellerie Bon Accueil
- Outstanding 18th century country chalet, full of antiques, fine rugs and cozy rooms. Rustic elegance. Dramatic views across the valley from a prime hillside site. Tremendous charm. Best hotel in the region (excluding Gstaad).
- Hostellerie Bon Accueil, Château-d'Oex, CH-1837, tel. 026 924 63 20, fax 026 924 51 26, singles 90 - 130 Sfr. ($63-$90 ), doubles 140- 200 Sfr. ($95-$136)
Hotel Des Vignes
- Classic Romanesque architecture in a vineyard setting. Open, inviting lobby has fine views toward Sion's unique skyline. Pierre and Christiane Menegale-Duc are caring, hospitable owner-managers. Offers Gemütlichkeit subscribers 15% off and the mineral water from your rooms minibar is free.
- Hotel Des Vignes, Rue du Pont 9, CH-1958, tel. +41/027/203 1671, fax 203 3727, singles 125 to 225 Sfr. ($87-$156), doubles 175 to 215 Sfr. ($122-$149), duplexes 255 to 285 Sfr. ($177-$198). 15% off these rates for Gemütlichkeit subscribers.
- Oberalm bei Hallein
- Simply one of the most gemütlicht hotels we've ever experienced. An almost fairy-tale castle near Salzburg, full of priceless family heirlooms, old-world charm and operated by an energetic, gracious husband-wife team. Tops in hospitality. Eike and Georg von Gernerth invite every single guest to join them for a glass of wine.
- The castle has eight rooms/suites for rent, every one a charmer with its own special character. They feature high ceilings, ancient three-foot thick walls, squeaky wood floors, antique furnishings and glorious objet d'art which have been in the family hundreds of years.
- Schloss Haunsperg, Hammerstrasse 32, A-5411 Oberalm bei Hallein, tel. 06245/80662, fax 06245/85680, per person, per day high season rates from 850 AS ($69) to 1250 AS ($101). Low season rates 10% off.
- Ceske Krumlov
- An elegant little gem by the river in the shadow of the towns impressive castle. Refurbished inside and out in the Palladian style of an Italian country villa with much polished brass, rich wood paneling and well-lit, marble-tiled bathrooms.
- Hotel Dvorak, Radnicni 101, CZ-381 01 Ceske Krumlov, tel. 0337/711020, fax 0337/711024, singles 2800 to 3400 ($82-$100), doubles 3500 to 4300 Kc ($103-$126). Suites 4000 to 6000 Kc ($118 to $176).
- Though we enjoyed a large and very comfortable room in this chain hotel, the Savoy earns its "G" for the way its staff pitched in to help locate our late-arriving luggage from the Prague rail station as well as deal with the complications that arose from that circumstance.
- Hotel Savoy, Keplerova Ul. 6, CZ-11800, tel. 02/2430 2430, fax 02/2430 2128. Rooms 7670 to 9100 Kc ($225 to $268)
Good Value Hotels
- This two-star property is the best value we saw in Zermatt. Guestroom quality in the hotels recently refurbished section beats many three-star properties. Room amenities include heated towel rack in bathrooms, hair dryer, satellite TV, direct dial phone and minibar.
- Hotel Dufour, CH-3920 Zermatt, tel. +41/027/966 2400 48, fax 966 2401, singles 55 to 95 Sfr. ($38-$65), doubles 110 to 180 Sfr. ($75-$123)
- Frau Marikka Httmann offers 12 simple but well-scrubbed, recently renovated rooms all with private bath, TV and telephone. Ask for a room on the first floor (our second floor) under the eaves with dormer windows. Doubles for about $75. Free parking.
- Pension Altenburg, Tiefurter Allee 2a, D-99425 Weimar, tel. 03643/64980, fax 03643/400303, singles 90 DM ($51), doubles 130 DM ($74)
- Gets its "G" for top value and hospitable owners. For less than $60 per night, Gemütlichkeit staffers Andy Bestor and Margaret Landeros had a small corner suite (Number 15) with windows on two sides, a separate sitting room, separate shower and toilet rooms, comfortable furniture, satellite TV, a balcony and views of the ruined Ehrenberg castle. The bargain of the year.
- Gasthof-Pension Waldrast, on Ehrenbergstrasse, Reutte-Ehenbichel A-6600, tel. +43/05672/62443, fax 62443, doubles 640 to 740 AS ($52-$60)
- Another "G" winner that qualifies on two counts: value and caring management; Marianne and Hermann Hirschbichler. Among the usual three-star amenities, the centrally located Trumer Stubes 22 rooms offer Satellite TV with CNN, radio, and separate sitting areas. Double rooms for less than $100. The hotel even has a few permits for street parking.
- Hotel Trumer Stube, Bergstrasse 6, A-5020 Salzburg, tel. +43/0662/87 47 76 or 87 51 68, fax: 87 43 26, singles 520-720 AS ($42-$58), doubles 880-1250 AS ($70-$100)
- Bad Hofgastein
- This tiny hotel in the very center of Bad Hofgastein has a good restaurant and a few small but clean rooms for under $50. The best room, Number 1, has side-by-side twin beds, two comfortable chairs, a small balcony, cable TV, telephone, radio, toilet and shower. The welcome is warm.
- Hotel-Café Austria, Bad Hofgastein, Austria, A-5630, tel. 06432/6223, room rate 280 AS ($23) per person.
Places to Eat & Drink
- Ceske Budejovice
- Famous brewery restaurant serving good food and the worlds best beer in an attractive setting at bargain prices. A liter of Budvar is about 50 cents and a huge, delicious dinner for two about $10.
- Budejovicky Budvar, Karoliny Svetle 4, CZ-370 21 Ceske Budejovice, tel. 0387/7705111. Tours available.
- Authentic "old world" atmosphere plus the best food we found in Prague was at this below-street-level, club-like bistro near the Intercontinental Hotel in the Jewish quarter. Lunch for $15 included three beers. Don't miss Kulcejda, a potato cream soup topped with whipped sour cream and dill and floating a softboiled egg. About $1.
- U Maxima, Bilkova 4/132
Au Cheval Blanc
- This spirited storefront bistro in Sions old town offers interestingly prepared dishes from a menu that depends heavily on fresh and seasonal ingredients. Six very fresh oysters were about $4 and included a glass of white wine. A rich Spanish seafood stew, Zarzuela, with lobster, shrimp, mussels, chunks of white fish and potatoes was one of the best dishes of the year. Unfiltered Valasian beer on draught.
- Van Gogh prints, granite floors, antique clocks and bright print table cloths. Good service. Local clientèle. Dinner for two about $60.
- Au Cheval Blanc, Grand-Pont 23, CH-1930, Sion, tel. +41/027/322 1867.
- Oberalm bei Hallein
- This bustling village Gasthaus is the logical place to dine for guests of the Schloss Haunsperg (see "G" hotels). Friendly service and above average food. Local clientèle.
- Landgasthaus Hammerwirt, A-5411 Oberalm bei Hallein, tel 06245/83664.
Zum Fidelen Affen
- The Funny Monkey is just around the corner from fellow "G" winner, Hotel Trumer Stube. Spinach Spätzle in cream sauce topped with crusted cheese and risotto with chopped, fresh vegetables are examples of the simple main dishes. Dinner for two is under $30. Young crowd, friendly service.
- Zum Fidelen Affen, Priesterhausgasse 8, A-5020 Salzburg
- In 1987, this restaurant wowed us with its marinated loin of lamb cooked over an open, wood fired grill. Amazingly, on our return 10 years later we found the same owner, were served by the same waiter and the food was just as good.
- Prices are about double what they were in 1987, but still somewhat of a bargain for Zermatt, perhaps the most expensive of all Swiss resorts. Hospitable ownership and staff, good service.
- L Gitan, CH-Zermat, tel. +41/027/968 1940. Reservations recommended.
- Etched windows, wood paneling, sepia drawings, a ceramic stove and fresh flowers are the atmospheric touches along with generous servings of better than average food which prompted Claudia and Roger to raise this restaurant to "G" status. As the title suggests, the emphasis is on fish, mostly trout. Also on the menu, however, are many traditional meat dishes. Most main courses are in the $11 to $18 range. Popular with locals, reservations recommended.
- Restaurant-Weinstube Forelle, Kronenstrasse 8, Tübingen, tel. 2 40 94, fax 2 44 39. No credit cards.