After a short drive from Munich (1.5 hours) you turn onto an idyllic forest road that goes up and down the hill, and when you turn around a cluster of snow-covered trees, I suggest you get out of the car, let your companion or taxi driver continue and walk the last 700 metres to soak up the beautiful Bavarian scenery on your way to Schloss Elmau.
Once there, you can have a room in the Schloss (the older part) or in the newer Retreat, which I preferred, no children under 16, fewer rooms and even more fireplaces than in the Schloss.
Yes, there are about 24 open fireplaces around the hotel, burning from morning to night. A fireplace is a place of peace and gathering, which makes it a symbol of one of the origins of Schloss Elmau, a place where community life and gatherings have been in the DNA from the very beginning. But in order to adapt to modern needs, owner Dietmar Müller-Elmau wanted to focus more on the individual, which is much more in tune with our times.
Individuality also means uniqueness, which is reflected in the space, in the many areas where you can sit alone, spend time with your favorite book in the hotel’s library, but you can also get some very personal tips, either from the bookseller for your daily reading, or from your spa therapist, who will create a wellness day program just for you.
Luxury is space, defined firstly by the landscape and the seclusion of Schloss Elmau, but also by the spacious rooms, the many different spa facilities and natural baths, the magnificent Hammam (“the largest west of Istanbul” 😉), they say.
And the wide choice of restaurants, from Japanese to Indian, Mediterranean and Thai, you can enjoy Michelin-starred Irish short ribs, peas and sweet potatoes at Luce d’ Oro, or a Bavarian cheese fondue at the Stüberl.
Although Schloss Elmau is in Bavaria, there are moments when it doesn’t feel German at all. Of course, the impeccable organisation and service are typically German, but the moment you enter the lobby, your room, this place feels miles away. Maybe Nepal, maybe India, maybe Africa, somehow the decor, but even more the atmospheric lighting that takes you on a journey to faraway places.
The word “cosy” would not do it justice, although the many books, the plants and the attention to detail will put you in a comfort zone.
And for your mind and spirit, a concert hall is the hotel’s cultural hub, attracting classical and jazz stars from around the world. Schloss Elmau hosted a memorable G7 Summit cultural event featuring the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra led by Sir Simon Rattle. The legendary pianist Chick Corea graced the Schloss with a captivating jazz performance. and renowned violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and pianist Lambert Orkis delivered a sublime concert in 2019. The annual Chamber Music Festival at Schloss Elmau has also drawn international acclaim, showcasing the talents of world-class musicians in an exquisite setting that enhances the appreciation of chamber music.
Also, there are famous authors for literary talks and readings. There are three libraries and probably the most impressive hotel bookshop you’ll ever see. An Eldorado for the mind.
Which makes the place all the more memorable.