The Castle-Hotels of Germany
Be der König der Schloss in these castle hotels across Southern Germany
Burg Hirschhorn on the Neckar River in GermanyIt doesn’t take a royal treasury to become king or queen of the castle for a night in Southern Germany. In fact, it can cost less than a three-star hotel.
Several Schlosser overlooking the Rhine River—and mighty Burg dominating half-timbered towns—now take in paying guests.
What's more, they often charge much less than the bland, tourist-class hotels in the town that surrounds the foot of the castle.
Burg Stahleck, a castle above Bacharach on the Rhine River, is actually now a hostel, with beds for €21.50 ($25)—specials can drop that to €39 ($46) for two nights, two breakfasts, and a dinner... for a family of 3 (www.jugendherberge.de).
Now I ask you: would you rather stay in a perfectly serviceable but unmemorable modern three-star hotel, or the 13th century castle dominating the village?
If your answer is "the castle," then have I got some dream sleeps for you. A few years ago, Budget Travel magazine was nice enough to send me over to Germany to ferret out the best of the bunch...
The secret castle hotels of Germany
- ★★★ Burg Colmberg (Romantic Road) - Though it does see its share of tourists from the nearby Romantic Road—busloads sometimes come for lunch in the restaurant—the 14th-century Colmberg nonetheless ranks as one of the Franconia region’s best full-on medieval castle experiences...
- ★★ Burg Hirschhorn (Neckar River) - Construction on the Hirschhorn started around 1200 and continued—the castle slowly rambling its way up the steep, forested banks of the Neckar River—for centuries...
- ★★ Schloss Hohenstein (Bavaria/Thuringia) - High in the hills above Coburg, several miles from the village of Haarth, and down a country lane twisting through farmland, lies the 16th-century Hohenstein...
- ★★ Kurfürstlisches Amtshaus (Eifel/Mosel) - There's been a Burg in the center of Daun since the Celtic era. It's been destroyed and rebuilt several times in the past 2,700 years, but the current, 1712 incarnation—creamy yellow walls with doorways and windows picked out in dark red; a gabled roof of mossy slate tiles peppered with tiny dormer windows—has been welcoming guests for 25 years...
- ★ Castle Liebenstein (Rhine River) - Staying at Liebenstein feels a bit like you've been invited to spend the weekend at your Uncle Günther's modest, ramshackle old country castle...
- ★ Burg Veldenstein (near Nürnberg) - The Betzelt family is as laid-back and genial as you’d expect from folks charged with managing a thousand-year-old castle owned by a brewery in a backwater town...
- ★ Kommende Ramersdorf (Bonn/Rhine) - Though it’s just across the Rhine from downtown Bonn in the village suburb of Ramersdorf, this ancient castle (founded in 1220) is surrounded by a thick wood that adds that crucial fairy tale barrier to the outside world...
German castle-hotel resources
Rhine Castles (www.rhinecastles.com)
Home, home on the Rhine. Live your own Lorelei fantasy on Germany's storied river.
German Castles (www.german-castles.biz)
The Rhine doesn't have a monopoly on German castles. You can set up in a castle in Bavaria, Franconia, along the Romantic Road or the Mosel or Neckar Rivers, and other storybook corners of France.
Gast im Schloss (www.gast-im-schloss.de)
A new site with a dozen or so primo German castles (this one linked directly from the official German tourist board site).
Homespun site with loads of good links on the right column.
General castle-hotel resources
Castle and Palace Hotels (www.CastleandPalaceHotels.com)
Not the most complete, but by far the most user-friendly site, maintained by professional travel writer and guidebook author Pamela Barrus (always gotta give props to my colleagues). There are about three dozen hand-selected castles in Germany. Click on a country, click on a region, then click on a castle (or palatial hotel) to get a concise but info-packed single page on the property, complete with photographs, prices, direct contact info, brochure-like descriptions of the castle and its history, and a few choice words and tips on the hotel from Pamela herself.
Castles on the Web (www.castlesontheweb.com)
Bukoos links on the "Accommodations" page. Could do with some organization though: some are booking engines, some direct links, some hotel reservations services. Still, most seem to at least hook you up with bona fide fortresses. Happy hunting.
Relais & Chateaux (www.relaischateaux.com)
One of the granddaddies of refined luxury, an association with extremely high standards (and price tags) with a handful of primo castle hotels (along with many that are not castles but still nice).
Links to get brochures for a half-dozen castle hotels in Germany.