Auf Schönburg Controversy

In a letter I wrote a couple of months ago I tried to give your readers a sense of what they might expect at some upscale Schloss hotels I'd not seen mentioned before in Gemütlichkeit. But apparently I struck a raw nerve with your subscriber, Rip Rice, and I'd like to respond.

I've stayed at Burghotel Auf Schönburg on three different trips, beginning in 1984, and with about 25 trips into Germany, I'm not exactly a neophyte in German hostelries. I confess to being a bit perplexed by Mr. Rice's reaction. My comments about this hotel were as follows:

• A long uphill climb from the parking lot (probably about two blocks, and a more difficult walk than any I've encountered anywhere in Germany).

My point was and is that on the assumption that your readership is not largely 20-45 year-olds, that some might find it more than they had bargained for. In fact as we first walked up from our car this trip, we passed some elderly people who were obviously struggling with what is a lengthy, uphill walk.

• No elevator and steep stairs.

This is all true. There may be an elevator in the new section, but that is not where we stayed. It's my perception that the "older area," where we've stayed all three times, is where the more interesting rooms are; they are definitely the most expensive. No one offered to help with our luggage, and while I was fully capable of handling it myself, the fact remains that many would find the stairs (with or without luggage) a bit trying.

• In size, lighting and bathing arrangements, bathroom was far below what one expects in a hotel in this price range.

Granted, on our first stay here the bathroom would have held 12 people, but this one was a squeeze for two.

• Did not offer English-language TV.

Given its location and popularity with English-speaking tourists, the lack of BBC/CNN is somewhat unusual for an upscale hotel 40 miles from Frankfurt. We didn't have English TV at Sababurg or Wasserburg Anholt either, but didn't expect it in those much more remote locations that probably don't have the regular constituency of Brits/Americans Auf Schönburg does. We don't go to Germany to watch American TV, but getting the news is rather nice, and probably important to some. I might also mention that we were at Auf Schönburg only a week after September 11, and while I understand some German, we yearned for news in English, which was not available.

• I said the hotel had a good restaurant, a traditional buffet breakfast and, given its touristy Rhine valley location, offered reasonable value.

These are hardly negative comments.

Bottom line is I think I fairly portrayed Auf Schönburg; it's an o.k. hotel, but if the difficult walk from the parking lot, no English TV, and at least some expensive rooms with marginal bathroom facilities, poses a problem for someone, it's not where they should stay. It is hardly a "bad" hotel, or we wouldn't have stayed there three times. We'll probably go again, but we don't have a love affair with it like Mr. Rice.

Bill Bohnhoff
Santa Fe, NM

(Ed. Note: Normally we would have ended this exchange last month at Mr. Rice's rebuttal of Mr. Bohnhoff's first letter. Auf Schönburg, however, is an extremely popular hotel among American tourists and we have received many letters and comments about it in the last 15 years. Most, but not all, have been positive.)

May 2002