Grand Hotel Kempinski High Tatras, Štrbské Pleso, Slovakia – Hotel Review
Seldom does a hotel review require a background geography briefing, but there’s a first time for everything, so here goes. The High Tatras Mountains are a range of mountains along the border of northern Slovakia and southern Poland and are part of the Tatra Mountains chain. The 17 tallest peaks (all of which are on the Slovakian side) run over 8,200 feet (2,500 meters) high.
One of the most picturesque parts of the High Tatras is Štrbské pleso, a mountain lake that is the second largest glacial lake on the Slovak side of the High Tatras. It’s directly on this breathtaking lake that the Grand Hotel Kempinski High Tatras is situated.
My trek to Štrbské pleso and the Grand Kempinski began after a flight to Munich from New York. Since the drive from Munich to Štrbské pleso was roughly nine hours and a distance of 539 miles (868 kilometers), I decided to break up the drive with a stop in Vienna, roughly midway there.
As I continued further east into Slovakia, a part of the country I had never traveled to before, the views become more beautiful and dramatic. The final few kilometers before reaching the hotel, which sits at an elevation of 4,432 feet (1,351 meters), offered beautiful views and magnificent vistas. The sun had begun to set as I arrived at the hotel, and it looked like a fairytale castle all lit up. A bellman rushed out to greet and escort me inside to the reception desk, where a roaring fire was burning in the lodge-like lobby’s fireplace. Despite the late hour, the hotel’s friendly and genial general manager, Kathrin Noll, was in the lobby greeting arriving guests (I was not the only latecomer).
My aptly named Deluxe Room Lake View room was elegantly furnished in what could best be described as a mid-century meets rustic mountain retreat style. The room had a wooden floor with a colored rug in the sitting area. White cotton-and-linen mats with slippers had been placed on both sides of the bed at turndown service, and two bottles of Rajec mineral water had been left on the nightstand. An alcove with windows providing a 270° panorama made it obvious that the primary objective of the room was to let the guests enjoy the view. Large windows to the side of the sofa on the far wall confirmed this and made the Samsung flatscreen television on an inside wall somewhat irrelevant. Sure enough, it remained off for the duration my stay; how could it ever hope to compete with the majestic beauty of Štrbské pleso and the mountains?
Several black-and-white photographs of the lake and mountains graced the walls, and a small safe and well-stocked minibar were also in the room.
A large wooden wardrobe by the entryway was more than sufficient storage space for almost any traveler not having several steamer trunks in tow. A small red jewelry holder on a side table was a thoughtful touch if you’ve ever wondered where to place a watch or ring in a hotel room and ensure they don’t get misplaced.