Support for Wolff's Art Hotel

I was very surprised at the letter concerning Wolff's Art Hotel (tel. 5 40 60, fax 54 06 9) in your March 2000 issue. Our experience has been just the opposite! Since you picked Wolff's as the Hotel of the Year in 1997, we have visited it four times.

Our most recent stay was about two weeks ago. We have never had any difficulty in communicating with the hotel and getting the arrangements we wanted. Each visit has been for three nights and the service has always been excellent and the restaurant top notch.

We have gotten to know Dr. Wolff quite well and find him to be very conscientious in running his hotel and making certain his guests are comfortable and well cared for.

He did tell me the hotel was closed in January which may explain the problem encountered since the regular staff was not available.

As to the "smart-alecky" response by email, it very well could have been a language difficulty in translating from German to English. Anyone who travels in Eastern Germany knows English is not widely known and I have seen some odd translations in hotel room info packets and on restaurant menus.

I would urge the letter writer and her friends to give Wolff's another try. I'm certain they would enjoy their stay!

CAPT. Robert R. Fargo
Pensacola, FL

(Ed. Note: We received support from other readers for this hotel. Dr. Wolff also sent us a letter explaining that his hotel was closed January and February, at the time of the inquiry in question. However, he also included a copy of a fax addressed to our reader in which the hotel offered a reservation on receipt of a credit card number. It seems apparent the fax was sent but not received. We continue to recommend Wolff's Art Hotel in Weimar. )

Great Restaurant

I would like to recommend Landhaus St. Urban (Büdlicherbrück 1, D-54426 Naurath/Wald, tel +49/06509/9140-0, fax 9140-40), a charming, country restaurant-hotel combination set in the forest 15 miles outside of Trier. This Michelin one star, Gault Millau 17-rated restaurant owned by the Rüssel family is now producing food that rivals the best of Puck, Splichal and Danko in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The Society of Bacchus America recently awarded Egon Müller of Scharzhofberg a "Lifetime Achievement Award" for his contributions to German wine and during that visit of outstanding tastings with J.J. Prüm, Egon Müller, Fritz Haag and Armin Diel, the Society had an extraordinary dinner consisting of seven courses which included: a layered tart of foie gras, thinly sliced guinea fowl and morels, turbot and lobster wrapped in thin layers of seared potatoes, Dorade with Felle in saffron marinade, frilled scallops in sauce Bourride, Vela prepared two ways with white asparagus and morels, pear tart with thinly sliced Münster and Riesling sabayon, and duo of pears with Riesling ice cream. All the above superbly produced for about $80, what a deal.

Chef Harald Rüssel is only 32 and will no doubt be a 3-star chef in the not distant future.

Cary E. Feibleman, M.D.
Via email

(Ed. Note: Landhaus St. Urbans 10 rooms are priced from 110 to 180 DM ($50-$83)

Art Nouveau Hotel, Berlin

I recently put you to a test. You certainly passed. Last January, when I was planning a trip that was to take in Washington, St. Petersburg, London and Berlin, I surfed the net looking for a good place to stay in the Berlin. Just then, your issue (Dec. 99) arrived with the feature on Savignyplatz, with particular reference to the Art Nouveau Hotel (tel. +49/030/327 7440, fax 327 744 40). A quick surf of the net revealed similar information about this hotel, so I made my reservations.

Before going on, let me stress that I am not new to Berlin. I lived there, in Lichterfelde, for two years (1962-64) and have been back many times since. It was just that in recent years, I spend almost all my travel time and dollars in Asia, so I have little knowledge of the current status of Berlin hotels.

In any case, the hotel was excellent. I enjoyed a chat and some Schnapps with the owners, had a spacious room that would have housed several people, and the price was moderate. In fact, due to the depreciation of the Euro, taking the DM with it, prices were better than expected.

On my last trip to Berlin (1996), the area including the Ku'damm was pretty shabby. I keenly felt the loss of Kranzler & Zuntz. Even Aschinger was gone, although now apparently back. Today, however, the area is much improved, back to its earlier elegance. I am not sure what to think about Potsdamer Platz. The newly emerging set of buildings looks like it would make a good backdrop for the opening scenes of some future James Bond adventure.

Jim Marsh
via email

New Car Delivery in Germany

I thoroughly enjoyed Vickie Ferguson's article (July 99) on new car delivery. Over the last 40 years, I have picked up 12 cars: two Audis (which no longer has the program), two BMWs, four Mercedes, and four Porsches.

The first was a 1956 Porsche in Zuffenhausen. The factory tour was considerably different from what it is now. The cars were almost entirely handmade, with a great deal of hand soldering of seams, then grinding and sanding. The paint facility looked like a Maaco shop. The "production line" had each car on a dolly, rolled from station to station, and each engine block had the initials of the master craftsman who had assembled it.

Mercedes probably does the best job of tourist delivery, if for no other reason than they have a higher volume of cars delivered every day, both domestic and foreign. The only fault discovered here was the lack of an English-speaking technician to explain the car on one occasion. Fortunately I speak passable German, so this was not a major problem.

The last car we picked up was a 1998 BMW 540i in May of 1998. It was delivered through a BMW owned dealership in Munich with very little hassle. During our tour of Bavaria, Austria and Switzerland, we stayed one night at your 1997 "Best Small Hotel," the Gasthof Waldrast (tel. +43/05672/62443, fax 62443) in Reutte, Austria. It was great- family run, with Oma, Opa, Herr und Frau Waldrast, and two delightful girls. Fantastic view of a ruined castle, which is illuminated at night. We'll go back!

Keep up the good work. Even though I average a trip to Germany, Switzerland or Austria once a week as a Delta Air Lines captain, I find your letter to be of great value.

William Gibson
Via email

(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.)

May 2000