My husband and I booked for a week based on the hotel's reputation and our desire for a week of rest and relaxation in the midst of a tiring trip. We are both in our 70s but found after a couple of days that the pace was too slow for us. And while the scenery is wonderful, it's a bit of a comedown after a stay in the Swiss Alps. We would have been happier with a 3-day stay.
We had a wonderful room. I loved the way you can book a particular room, not just a price range. We chose the large junior suite with the bay windows. It was truly wonderful, though the complaints about the sun are justified, but we just kept the curtains drawn. And there were black-out curtains that were easy to draw. I could lie in the comfy bed and look at the forest and mountains beyond and know that no one could see in. My only complaints about the room were that we had to put our laptops on the floor to recharge them -- no free outlets by the desk. And the shower leaked so that I would bring back a spa towel to mop up all the water. I loved the elephant motif. The quality was of a 5-star hotel but the feeling was of a posh country lodge.
Other things I really liked: You could just put your money away during the stay, though the staff didn't know how to let a guest use the safe deposit boxes and would open and bring out my valuables. They need some training. I liked the keys that you could just swipe. There were apples all over the hotel and spa all day long, and you could make your own tea in the spa, and it was a terrific quality tea. I loved the bathrobes in multi-colors and always 2 different ones in a room so you and your partner knew whose was whose.
The laundry service was very good and returned the same day. Much less expensive than in city hotels.
I have never before stayed anyplace where there were 4 swimming pools. One day I swam in 3 of them and regretted that though the weather was warm for September, the outdoor pool had a closed sign on it. There was also a rooftop pool that was pretty cold on cold days -- but I liked it -- and then a ground-level heated pool that my husband found disconcerting because it was suits optional. The fourth was an indoor pool for families, but when the weather was good, I had it to myself.
Our major problem in our week's stay was with the food. The cold food was fine, and there were even tropical fruits daily of a quality to be found in Hawaii. The soups in La Salle, the main restaurant were usually superb. But the cooked foods were not up to even 4-star standard. The hotel claims that the main courses are cooked for you in front of you, but in fact they are composed for you from ingredients that have already been cooked. Twice paella was on the menu, but this was prepared by taking rice that had been cooked and adding other ingredients at your request. It was more like fried rice than paella. The portions were small, but you could ask for more.
We tried eating in Fidelio one night. We were warmly welcomed by the Maitre d' and the server. But as the meal progressed the service went downhill. We had to wait 43 minutes for dessert. By that time, my husband had given up and left, but I wanted to see just how long it would take. No servers came near our table after my request to get the dessert, and no one ever came to apologize. The every-so friendly Maitre d' was busy being friendly at other tables. And we found the portions small, so we never went back.
We didn't eat in the Michelin restaurant because we found the limited choices not for us, so that's a matter of taste. But we also found the lunches limited and we had difficulty finding anything we wanted to eat a second time. The club sandwich was not very good, people at another table were looking very dubiously at a hamburger, and the tramezzini were on tasteless white bread and oozing with may. The Vital salad was excellent and I had that 3 times. My husband skipped lunch and ate apples until we found a small hotel 15 minutes away on foot and had the best food of the week: true German sausages and great salads. But the owner told us the Schloss owned it and they didn't expect to be in business the coming year.
We also got bored. We didn't have a car but we like to hike. We took hikes in all four directions for an hour or more and all four paths were lovely but the same. Wide forestry roads through tall trees. I felt I should like it all better than I did, but after a stay in Grindelwald....
I asked a concierge about getting to one of the neighboring towns. I was given complicated information about using the hotel van and nearly gave up, and then I discovered on my own that there was bus service twice a week from the main road below the hotel. Why didn't the concierge tell me about that? And usually there was no one on the desk.
Quibbles: The rooftop pool was always smoky from the fireplace chimneys. It rather spoiled being in the beautiful outdoors. The plumbing was not great. The drain cover in the sink wouldn't stay closed, I had trouble adjusting the water temp in the tub, and the tub was a tight fit even for normal-sized people. The maids left the temp in the shower too hot and it was hard to figure out how to adjust the shower so the overhead shower didn't come pouring down on you. I also felt in the spa as if I was in an old-folks home much of the time,particularly with everyone wandering around in robes and lying on lounge chairs just staring at the ceiling.
I guess my conclusion is that this place didn't come up to my expectations. If you come with a car and can take long excursions plus a few hikes, or if you truly just want to lie around the spa and get massages, it might be the place for you. But if you want to hike and eat simple food freshly cooked, try a Swiss resort.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- THE SCHLOSS ELMAU EXPERIENCE Discerning globetrotters not only enjoy the magic location of Schloss Elmau in probably the most beautiful sanctuary of the Bavarian Alps, spectacular Spas and a liberating sense of perfect calm, hospitality without limitations & cosmopolitan restaurants, Yoga or Tai Chi Chuan with excellent teachers, phantastic sports as well as edutainment for their Kids, but also inspiring encounters with some of the greatest artists and authors of our time. The new RETREAT has been the Residence for the Heads of State & Governement during the G7 Summit 2015. 47 Suites, 2 Restaurants, Lounges, Library, Yoga Pavillon & Spa connect a wholly new dimension of space & casual elegance with breathtaking views of the monumental Wetterstein Mountain & roaring Ferchenbach Creek. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Schloss Elmau Luxury Spa & Cultural Hideaway Hotel Elmau
- Schloss Elmau Luxury Spa And Cultural Hideaway