Switzerland

A Castle Hotel Fit For An Emperor

June 13, 2015

There was a time when a highly influential Queen ruled a territory that reached into all seven continents and was home to more than a quarter of the world’s population. Having wielded exceptional power and ruled for longer than any other female monarch in history, this Queen left lasting impressions on how we see the world today.

When the Queen was 21, she gave birth to her first child, who later fell in love with the heir of another realm. At age 17, the princess married the heir and many years later, the two ruled that realm as Emperor and Empress.

Years later, the Emperor passed away, and in her grieving, the Empress built the most advanced castle of the time as a tribute to him. It was here that the Empress spent the final years of her life; painting in her studio, reading in her extensive library and entertaining royalty from near and far.

The dowager Empress enjoyed the company of her honourable guests to such an extent that many were allocated a permanent room in the castle, allowing them to visit whenever they wished. Each room was unique and contained priceless objects of personal value to the guest. And while every room exuded opulence, there was one that was in its own league of grandeur. This was the suite exclusively reserved for visits by the Empress’s eldest son, who ruled as the last Emperor of the realm.

The Castle’s History Uncovered:

If you are familiar with 19th century European royalty, you have likely guessed that the Empress introduced above was none other than Victoria Friedrich, named after her mother, Her Majesty Queen Victoria of England. You may have also assumed that the Empress’s realm was Germany, that the castle was Friedrichshof (named after her husband, Emperor Friedrich II) and that their son was Wilhelm II. What you may not know is that decades after the castle was built, when the Empress’s descendants transformed the castle into a hotel, Wilhelm II’s room became one of the most exceptional hotel suites available in Europe—the Royal Suite at Schlosshotel Kronberg.

The Kings and Queens Have Departed, But The Service Remains:

Nestled in the exquisite Taunus forest, yet only twenty minutes from Frankfurt, Schlosshotel Kronberg offers a rare setting where natural old world charm exists alongside urban vibrancy. The treasures found within the hotel walls are rarer still, such as the antique objects and furniture, which were once the Empress’s personal possessions. But despite the location and the gems inside, what remains the hotel’s most priceless asset, in my opinion, is its unrivalled service.

As a “five-star superior” luxury hotel, exceptional service can be expected. But when compared to other hotel’s in its elite class, Schlosshotel Kronberg still stands out. Guests can expect a chauffeur that awaits their arrival to Germany with an elegant name card and an S Class Mercedes, an exclusive welcome cocktail bar set up outside their suite, two large bowls of exotic fruit which are regularly replaced, an all-inclusive mini bar with sparkling wine from Prinz von Hessen’s personal estate, numerous hotel staff who all know guests by name and a restaurant crew who are impeccably polite, exceptionally efficient and possess a great depth of culinary knowledge.

In addition, one has the feeling that no request is too extravagant to consider or too difficult to deliver. For example, the hotel team went out of their way to provide us with state-of-the-art carbon fibre mountain bikes to explore the Taunus forest and organised historical tours of the castle and the surrounding region.

Suffice to say that the hotel’s recognition for three consecutive years as the best resort hotel in Germany by the World Travel Awards, was no mistake.

The Suite Experiences:

Each of the 62 hotel rooms at Schlosshotel Kronberg are unique and offer spectacular views of Frankfurt’s skyline, Burg Kronberg, the golf course, and other highlights of the 58-hectare Schlosspark. While the rooms originally spanned three floors, a recent internal renovation has seen the addition of an extra floor of guest rooms at the top of the hotel. This was achieved by transforming single rooms to double rooms and former utility rooms to bedrooms and suites. The renovation has allowed the hotel to cater for the increasing demand and it has also provided renowned interior designer, Nina Cambpell, with an opportunity to further experiment with a range of charming interior styles.

There are several suites which I would recommend to Luxuria Lifestyle readers. First and foremost would be the Royal Suite, Room 114. Featuring original furnishings and spanning over 100 square metres, guests will have an opportunity to write at the Emperor’s desk and sleep in his original bed. The bed is a particularly significant piece of history, as it was not only where William II spent his nights, but where Gorbachev and Eisenhower once lay. And although, to quote the tour guide, these heads of state “did not share the bed all at the same time”, considering that the bed extends three metres in length and two metres in width, it hypothetically could have been feasible.

Room 107 is another impressive suite. Once the exclusive guest room of Tsar Nicholas II, this suite is exceptionally large, containing a range of entertaining, living, dining and sleeping spaces within its walls and boasting unique paintings and objects from both the Russian and British royal families.

There is also another coveted room in the castle, however it remains the private residence of the owners. This suite is where the Empress resided and is only offered on occasion to other members of the royal family, such as Prince Charles, who has stayed here while visiting the region.

Dining In The Castle:

With a highly regarded chef (Joerg Lawerenz, who has previously achieved two Michelin stars and who recently came to the hotel), an exceptionally friendly and experienced restaurant manager and a dining room where Empress Victoria once sat, the culinary offer at Schlosshotel Kronberg is undoubtedly one of the hotel’s finest features.

The plates that I would recommend include the salmon soup, the fresh white Alba truffle risotto (when in season), the local deer steak (with black mushrooms and pumpkin) and the crepe suzette (with caramelised sugar, orange juice and cognac). The deer steak was particularly tender with a distinctively rich venison taste and the crepe suzette was an experience in itself, prepared at the table, and served with a flame as impressive as the flavour.

Guest can also indulge in a choice of 450 fine wines to complement their meals, including the superb Dachsfilet from Prinz von Hessen’s estate, as well as an impressive list of international options.

The breakfast specialities also deserve a mention, which are certainly beyond the standard five star offer. Among the delights include a large plate of honeycomb, rösti, an extensive selection of fine German sausages, a range of freshly squeezed juices, and an extravagant omelette in a cylindrical shape (upon order).

Finally, it is fair to say that the service at the restaurant matches the exceptional service throughout the hotel. Empty plates and glasses are removed immediately, the covers of silver platters are taken off at precisely the same time by a team of waters and the response to requests are always “gerne”, meaning “with pleasure”.

Additional Highlights:

Upon reflecting on my original notes for this review, I came to the conclusion that a book should be written about the castle. With such a rich history and an equally impressive current offer, only hundreds of pages could do justice to a review of Schlosshotel Kronberg.

Among the many additional features that stand out are one of the most celebrated golf courses in Europe, a garden containing trees that were gifts from foreign royal families and a beauty cottage, which offers everything from an organic facial to a complete honeymoon treatment.

I would also highly recommend that guests visit the library (containing 4000 books, which once belonged to the Empress), the blue, green and red salons (which each have their own historical themes) and experience the traditional high tea (which is exceptionally popular and generally only available by reservation prior to arrival).

Finally, a trip to Schlosshotel Kronberg would be incomplete without visiting the bustling but charming city of Frankfurt. The hotel’s concierge team provides customised recommendations according to guest’s wishes and certainly inspired us to discover this vibrant city, aptly called “Mainhatten” by the locals.

Summing Up The Schlossholel:

Yes, it is the best resort hotel in Germany. But it is more than that. It is overflowing with priceless antiques and artwork, which were the prized personal possessions of the Empress of Germany, the daughter of Queen Victoria herself. And, perhaps because it is still owned by the family, the service and the offer maintains a standard that is a rare sample of traditional luxury. So, when you visit Schlosshotel Kronberg, you won’t only feel like an Emperor or Empress, you’ll be treated like one.

www.schlosshotel-kronberg.de

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