After our stay in Baden-Baden, we traveled by coach (rather, a luxe "cruise lounge" by Mercedes-Benz) an hour into the Black Forest along the mountain road. The Forest is unique with its rolling green hills, thicket of trees, and the most charming and fairy tale-like towns set amidst it all. We stopped off at Mummelsee Lake for a lunch – a good place for a picnic. You can also try the Berghotel Mummelsee (www.mummelsee.de) for lunch: just 10 euros per person includes a sumptuous spread of meats, cheeses, breads, and more. Don’t miss the Black Forest cake for dessert!
By afternoon we made our way to the Bareiss Hotel (www.bareiss.com) in Baiersbronn. The Bareiss is a truly unique Relais & Chateaux property. Its 100 or so rooms are set in one of the most picturesque environments. Nearby, the hotel boasts a traditional farmhouse dating from the 1700s. Apparently a Mr. Morlok lived here and he was known as a healer of the day. The farmhouse offers interesting points on how people once lived. Today, it's possible to have coffee and cake in this charming setting.
Right after check in, I immediately went for a jog around town, up towards the hills – what amazingly fresh air and utter beauty! I felt like I was running in a landscape painting. It was almost too perfect to be real.
Back at the hotel, this is surely a perfect place to spend two nights at least (better to stay four nights to a week). There are four restaurants (impressive fine dining options – with Michelin stars to boot), a half-dozen pools/whirlpools, and plenty of organized activities (hiking, wine tasting, biking, etc.). There's also nearby golf and tennis. The town and surroundings are quiet and serene.
As attractive as the natural surroundings are, the boutique hotel is equally impressive. First, the décor is traditional, old world – classy, warm, cozy, and refined. One feels immediately a special friendliness of the place, set in the middle of the Black Forest. Second, I enjoyed sampling the several pools, mineral baths, and sauna. The grounds include a pond and pool with sun beds and bar service. (In winter, there are sleigh rides, snow shoe hikes, and skiing). Third, the hotel is also ideal for families. There is even a separate house for kids’ activities, supervised by hotel staff from 8am to 9pm. German families are known to return every year to the Bareiss. And finally, the food and fine dining experience are a sure draw.
The French restaurant is an ideal formal affair for a birthday, engagement, or just a special night out. The Mediterranean restaurant is a bit more casual in look and menu. We ate at the Dorfstube – an excellent traditional Black Forest restaurant. The female waitstaff wear dirndls (dresses) that actually match the room’s décor.
Leaving the Bareiss was a struggle. I could have stayed a week. The staff is so welcoming and the setting so special that I can understand why guests return every year.
We carried on driving next to the Hohenzollern Castle (www.preussen.de/en/heute.html). Many people know the famous Neuschwanstein castle (www.neuschwanstein.de) outside of Munich. But the Hohenzollern is arguably the best. This site of Prussian kings sits on a hilltop and rises majestically into the sky. It's an easy and worthwhile stop before exiting the forest.
For general trip-planning information, see our Germany Travel Guide.