High praise for Slovenia and Hotel on Lake Lucerne

Loved Bled, Slovenia

As a longtime subscriber to your wonderful publication, we thought we would write regarding our latest "find."

Based on a New York Times article, we visited Slovenia - specifically the small resort village of Bled, just over the border south of Villach. It is a beautiful little country, half the size of Switzerland, with two million people, 99% of whom love their country (new in 1991) and want you to love it, too. More people speak English than in Austria. More brochures, catalogs, menus, etc., have English translations and the people are the friendliest we've encountered. When we arrived at the Hotel Villa Bled (Cesta Svobode 26 PO Box 53, SL-64260 Bled Slovenia, tel. 386-4-579-1500, fax 386-4-574-1320, manager, Janez Fajfar) we were immediately given an upgrade from a double room ($155 per night for two persons including breakfast) to a lakeview suite (Marshall Tito's former office). It included enough space in the hallway (with bar) and sitting room to host a 75 person reception. There was also enough closet space for an army, a huge bath with shower, a long balcony looking out on the lake, TV with CNN and a separate elevator. The hotel (a Relais & Chateaux) also has its own bathing area and boats on the lake. It also has a good tennis court and it sits in a 13-acre park loaded with gardens and magnificent trees.

Our waiter at lunch volunteered to give us a personal tour of the Bohinj Lake and Julian Alps region at no charge. This he did the next day. We toured an island in the lake, its church, and Bled Castle, which sits above the lake on the opposite shore. The boats to the island are gondola types, powered by men with oars who stand in the stern.

A day later our most colorful, most humorous general hotel manager, took the entire day off to take us on a personal tour to the capital city Ljubljana, which we had heard was "not much to see." But, as presented to us by Mr. Fajfar, the city was beyond our fondest expectations. The food market area, the churches, river and bridges, the old town and many beautiful medieval buildings, the restaurants, were a real eye opener. It is a small city of 250,000 and has as much (or more) charm as Salzburg, Graz, or Innsbruck and is only 50 kilometers from Bled. Driving the side roads back to the hotel was a history lesson of its own, with many small villages right out of medieval times.

The two restaurants where we had dinner were located in the small village of Radovljica, a 15-minute drive from Bled. Both are highly recommended and located almost across the street from each other. The first, Gostilna Kunstclj, is owned by Anton (Tony) Stiherle, a five-handicap golfer, world class skier and a first-class innovative chef. Above all, he is a fun guy and likes to show his good customers his wine cellar, where cocktails are sometimes served before dinner. We ate twice at this terrific place accompanied by Mr. Fajfar, from the Villa Bled. The second, Gostilna Lectar, is just down the street in a medieval building with tons of atmosphere, ambiance, and great food. Dinner for two in both places can be under $30, depending on the amount of libation consumed.

Prices are reasonable in Slovenia; gas is a third less than in Austria, and everyone takes major credit cards. We will return for a longer stay.

The Slovenia Tourist Office sent me a terrific package. Their address: Slovenian Tourist Office, 345 East 124th St, New York NY 10003, tel. 212-358-9686, fax 212-358-9025, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Bill Wood
Hobe Sound, FL

Hotel on Lake Lucerne

On 30 Nov. 2000, we returned from a six-week trip to Switzerland, France, Germany, and Austria. We want to share a hotel experience with you.

Upon our arrival in Zürich on 17 Oct., we drove to Merlischachen, 12 kilometers from Lucerne, for a three-night stay to rest before proceeding to the South of France.

In Merlischachen, we stayed at the Schloss-Hotel Swiss-Chalet (Lucerneerstr. 204, Merlischachen, CH-6402, tel. +41/041/850 0250, fax 850 0252). This was our third stay and we were as pleased as before. The hotel is marvelous and the location beautiful. The hotel has various types of accommodations in several different buildings. We prefer the Jagdschloss on the hill overlooking the lake. The rooms are very large and nicely furnished in a hunting motif with a lovely view of Lake Lucerne.

We enjoy this hotel and its location so much that we returned later in our trip for seven-nights. During this later stay, we traveled extensively in the area including a boat trip around Lake Lucerne. The rate in the Jagdschloss was 229 Sfr. ($140) per night for the low season but they will give a reduced rate for seniors.

Robert Fargo
Pensacola, FL

February 2001