Great Hamburg Hotel

My wife and I were recently in Hamburg and stayed at the Hotel Abtei, thanks to your recommendation in the July 1990 issue of Gemütlichkeit. We found this small deluxe hotel in a quiet residential area as interesting and delightful as it was when you reviewed it.

We were given room 10, a small suite at the top of the house with the hand-painted porcelain bathroom fixtures mentioned in your article. We enjoyed Herr Fritz Lay's excellent room stereo and had a very enjoyable evening meal in the hotel's intimate restaurant.

The Abtei's facilities alone make it a worthwhile stopping place in this busy city. But it is the personalities of the owners, Herr Lay and his charming wife, that make their establishment so outstanding. We have traveled throughout the German speaking world for over 20 years and met many fine hotel owners and innkeepers, but Fritz Lay's genuine hospitality and friendliness top them all. We paid about 395 DM per night (about $250.00) for our suite and the light evening meal without wine was 121 DM (about $76.00) for two. Reasonable for what we received.

Although the Abtei is in a residential area and removed from the center of Hamburg, transportation is convenient and inexpensive. The most pleasant way to go downtown is on the Aussenalster (Hamburg's large lake) ferries, the nearest stop being less than a 10-minute walk. There is also fast bus and U-Bahn service not far from the hotel. It should be mentioned that the hotel has no elevator and there are 64 steps from the ground floor to the top level where we stayed.

Since the Abtei restaurant is closed on Sundays, we also had an evening meal at Schmitz, a restaurant within walking distance on Maria-Louisen Strasse. This is definitely a neighborhood place with preference as to tables and service given to regular customers. This is perhaps understandable since my spoken German with the unmistakable American accent fooled no one and I am sure they never expected to see us again. The food was good, the portions generous. I don't recall the exact amount we paid but I would describe the prices as moderate to expensive.

As your 1990 article pointed out, Hamburg is not the German tourist destination that Bavaria or the Black Forest might be, but it is a prosperous place with a fascinating waterfront and two attractive lakes in the heart of the city. If one combines a visit to Hamburg with a cruise down the Elbe river from Czechoslovakia, as we did, there should not be a disappointed with the final disembarkation in Germany's largest port city.

Matthias Sheeleigh,
Summit, NJ

Austria Hotel Report

Your publication was most helpful to us during a mid-September tour through central Europe, mainly Austria.

The Grüner Baum in Badgastein was a delight. We had a lovely room looking out to the mountains. Dinner was very nice and made especially comfortable because we were seated in a designated nonsmoking area!

The Hotel Fuschl, however, was the worst hotel experience of our four week trip. The room (at $250+ per night) was reasonably large, but while getting ready for bed, we discovered the bathtub had not been cleaned, there were hairs on the bathroom floor and the hallway to the bathroom had spiders and many spider webs. I complained to the desk in the morning as we checked out, shortening our stay to only one night.

The other problem with this place was the dining room. The food was very well prepared and the service formal. We noticed that they had one of our favorite French cheeses on the cart and so asked for a very small taste. The waiter willingly obliged. As we were settling our bill, another waiter snatched the check out of our hands because he "forgot to charge us for the cheese". We were shocked to discover that we paid $8 for a piece of cheese no larger than a silver dollar.

On to Salzburg and the Hotel Goldfassan. The location was great. We were able to park our car and use the tram. However, the rooms you raved about seemed not to exist. When shown a double, we asked if there were larger or different rooms available. We were told a room is a room, they are all the same. We found no TV, modernized bath or other features you highlighted. We had a clean but very spare room. The saving grace was the dining room where we had a simple but tasty meal in a room totally dedicated to nonsmokers

We felt compelled to share our experiences with you and hope you will consider them as you make future recommendations.

Florence & Cliff Johnson,
Elmhurst, Il

(Ed. Note: Obviously you were given a room in the older part of the hotel. Readers are advised to book in advance and request rooms in the newer section.)

(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.

September 1994