Review: Schloß Elmau, The Bavarian Castle Hotel and Spa Hosting the G-7

Schloß Elmau

By Jonathan Spira on 27 June 2022
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It was only seven years ago that President Obama, German Chancellor Merkel, and other Group of Seven leaders gathered at a summit in the Bavarian Alps to discuss affairs of state that included sanctions against Russia.

While the roster of leaders may have changed, the topic of Russian sanctions remains on the agenda, and that country’s invasion of Ukraine will also be a topic of much conversation.

Bicycling in the Bavarian Alps near Schloß Elmau

Nestled at the foot of the Wettersteingebirge, a range of mountains that includes some of Germany’s tallest, including the 9,740-foot (2,969-meter) high Zugspitze, stands Schloß Elmau, a 100-year-old castle turned luxury resort.

The isolated spot – it is accessible either via a private road or on foot through a gorge,, and the hotel markets itself as a place to “experience the soothing sounds of silence” – makes Elmau a prime venue to host world leaders at this week’s G-7 summit.

Just 62 miles (100 kilometers) from Munich, this haven sits at an elevation of 3,478 feet (1,060 meters), built at the onset of the First World War by the theologian Johannes Müller, a philosopher who later adulated Adolf Hitler, as a retreat for his followers.  Since then, the Schloß (Schloß means “castle” in German) has served as a military resort for soldiers returning from the front during Germany’s darkest hours in the Second World War, a military field hospital during the war, a sanatorium for Holocaust survivors, an inexpensive Schloßhotel, or castle hotel, and, following a fire in 2005 that required most of the hotel to be demolished and reconstructed.

Before the fire, which had been caused by a faulty electric blanket, I had stayed there several times while a student at the Ludwig-Maximilians Universität München (University of Munich), which should give you an idea of what the budget for a visit was.

When Schloß Elmau reopened its doors to guests, it did so reinvented as a luxury resort and spa  which I have since visited twice.

The author’s breakfast one morning at Schloß Elmau

Once again, the German government has taken over the resort for the event and world leaders including U.S. President Joseph Biden, German Bundeskanzler Olaf Scholz, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Italian Presidente del Consiglio dei ministri Mario Draghi, and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will enjoy the luxurious guest rooms that feature picturesque views of the Bavarian Alps’ mountains and valleys.

Before 2007, Elmau was merely a castle hotel and I had stayed there several times while a graduate student at the Ludwig-Maximilians Universität München (University of Munich), which should give you an idea of what the budget for a visit was. After a major fire caused major damage in 2005, Schloss Elmau, which had originally opened in 1916, reinvented itself as a luxury hotel and spa, re-opening in 2007.

Today, an average of 220 concerts are held across two concert halls at Schloß Elmau on an annual basis, with appearances by major classical performing artists.  Artists including Alfred Brendel, Yehudi Menuhin, and Benjamin Britten as well as the Amadeus Quartet have performed there, among others.  Last I counted, the Schloßhotel had five Steinway grand pianos.

The author’s room after turn-down service

All of the G7’s meetings and events will take place at Schloß Elmau. The resort, which has its own concert hall, also offers nine restaurants. The summit’s meals are being crafted by Christoph Rainer, chef at the hotel’s Luce d’Ororestaurant, and will highlight no doubt regional cuisine made from local ingredients.

During my most recent stay, my room was one of the property’s few tower rooms and provided majestic views to the south, west, and east. The room was designed to make good use of the views, something that was also true of the bathroom, which, separated from the bedroom by a glass wall, allowed the scenery to be admired from the shower as well.

The hotel uses handmade Schramm mattresses, which are extremely comfortable. The Loewe flat screen television went unused during my stay as the vistas were far more compelling and a minibar offered complimentary juice and snacks.

Dinner at Luce d’Oro

Not all of the hotel’s nine restaurants are open every night. My day started with the opulent breakfast buffet and I dined at several of the hotel’s restaurants including Fidelio, which offers Italian cuisine, and Luce d’Oro, where a three-course prix fix meal becomes seven courses after the multiple amuse bouche plates and a sorbet dish after the main course and finishing with petit fours served after dessert.

There is so much to do at the resort that it almost defies explanation, although the busy pace of the summit may not lend itself to such leisure-time pursuits..  Hiking and biking are excellent options and the spas offer much pampering (and a medical director) as well as a variety of treatments.  There are also guided tours, a Pilates studio, yoga and Taiji retreats, and an Oriental Haman.

Children are welcome guests [with two exceptions, the Badehaus (bathhouse) and the Kaminbar lounge are for guests who are 16 or older]  and there are special workshops for them ranging from creative writing, poetry, classical music, painting, dance, philosophy, and science, in addition to adventure, and sports programs for them that are included in the resort fee.

One of the many concerts the author attended at the resort

BOTTOM LINE

This unique property, set in one of the most beautiful regions of Europe, is clearly an oasis from the stress and strain of everyday life, as I noted in my first review of the resort.  Schloß Elmau appears to have found the best hotel staff members in the world as everyone from the front desk clerks to the general manager did his utmost to make guests feel comfortable and at home.

As for me, I can’t wait for the G-7 to clear out so I can return for another visit.

THE DETAILS

Schloß Elmau
In Elmau 2
82493 Krün
Germany
www.schloss-elmau.de
Tel. +1 49 8829 180

(Photos: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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