Living Like a Queen: Two Nights in Castle Hotel Auf Schoenburg

24 Sep

293It has been my dream to spend a night in a castle since I learned that ordinary people could spend nights in castles. Castle Hotels are quite popular in Germany, sometimes used as a way to generate revenue for the upkeep of the historic site, and they provide a unique experience for castle enthusiasts.

Schoenburg is nestled atop a hill overlooking the small town of Oberwesel in the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. This section of the river is best known for being a inundated with castles–over 60 in a 65 km stretch, or castle every mile. This makes Oberwesel (and Schoenburg!) an excellent staging point for exploring other castles in the area.

We arrived by train from Paris via Bingen. The town of Oberwesel is quite tiny and it isn’t difficult to figure out where the castle is–it’s an imposing figure guarding over the village. But you might want to do as we did and get a taxi up, as it’s quite a hike! We were a bit confused about what to do at first as there’s no taxi rank outside the train station. My suggestion would be to find the tourist information center, located in the middle of town, or the ferry dock, which is what we did. The lady there was extremely helpful and called a taxi for us–probably used to tourists!

From the parking lot, you cross over the bridge and have to walk up a hill through the castle walls. I read several reviews before we arrived where people complained about this hill, and at first I wondered why, but I can see why older people might have some difficulty as it does get a bit steep! I believe there is an option to take a golf cart up (we saw golf carts bringing up bags, anyway, and I’m sure another person wouldn’t be an issue if necessary).

We were able to check in immediately despite being early and were shown to our room–#38–by one of the workers who showed us around. We picked out room 38 on the website before booking. On the site, you can scroll through pictures and information about each of the rooms and see the prices. 38 was on the cheaper side for a double room and isn’t actually in the main castle (I believe it was a guard house) which might put some people off, but we loved that it was secluded (there are no other rooms around!) and it has the most fantastic bathtub. I’m serious–three grown people would be able to stretch out side-by-side in this thing with no worries of touching any of the sides, and the water comes out of a marble carving of cherubs holding a pot. The bathroom comes equipped with a shower as well, plus enough bubble bath to fill the tub up with foam multiple times, a towel warmer, and comfy robes.

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Our room at night.

The bed is nestled into a nook that can be separated from the rest of the room by regal-looking curtains. A small window beside the bed looks out on to the private garden. The rest of the room contains a couch and chair, coffee table topped with free sherry and fresh apples, a closet, bookshelves, a desk with a quill and stationary, a TV hidden in a cupboard, a small safe, and a free mini-bar which has still and sparkling water, juices, and beer. If you stay more than one night, all of these things are replenished the next day.

When we got bored of exploring every nook and cranny of our room–which took a while–we decided to go look at the garden.

The garden, which is exclusive to guests of the hotel, is like a fairyland. Filled with flowers and greenery, it also boasts hidden cubby holes that adults and children alike would have a blast exploring (check out the cave under the bridge and see who lurks within!). The garden is complete with an adult-sized tree house with a spiral staircase and little library inside; a giant chess board; a pool table and dart board; a little gazebo; and a fruit and vegetable area (we heard some of these fruits and vegetables actually make their way to the dinner and breakfast table!). And if that isn’t enough for you, the views from the garden are absolutely stunning.

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After going to the garden, we were some of the first people to march into dinner at 6:30. A four-course dinner is also included in the price of the room, and wow is it delicious! There are two dining rooms, and we were able to eat in each of them during our two night stay. The first night we were placed in a little alcove which felt more private, which we liked.

The dinner is not for people who have never eaten at a fancy restaurant before, as we soon learned. The fanciest we usually get is going to our local Mexican place or Burger King. We did have the forethought to wear nice clothes–I had a skirt and dress for the two nights, and my husband wore collared shirts–but didn’t think to research how to use so many different knives and forks. You get a set of cutlery for each course, and we figured out that we needed to start from the outside in by counting toward the soup course, which had a spoon. Whew!

The menu is set, which means everyone in the room is going to be eating more or less the same thing. I have pictures of our two set menus below. Don’t like the look of the food? Don’t panic! They will gladly make substitutions for dietary restrictions and picky eaters. For instance, I don’t like any kind of seafood, so Night 2 was a bit of a struggle for me, but they substituted with chicken items instead of fish.

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So much silverware!

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Fixed menu for Night #1.

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Menu for Night #2.

When you first sit down, you’re asked if you want anything to drink. We chose water both nights, but didn’t specify “tap water” as you’re supposed to for free water in Europe, and so had extra euros added to our bill at the end of everything. We didn’t mind, though–the food was delicious! Each course was nicely portioned and we were stuffed by the end of it. Each dinner easily took 2.5 hours to complete, though, so fair warning–don’t have much else scheduled for your evenings.

After dinner, we both took baths and went straight to sleep. This was our second stop on our Europe trip and we were still a bit jetlagged and exhausted. The bed was probably one of the most comfortable beds we slept in on our whole trip. As our room is set apart from all the other rooms, we had a very quiet, restful night’s sleep.

Breakfast is also included in the room’s price, so in the morning we headed up to the dining room to eat. There’s a buffet laid out and you can eat as much as you want. One of the workers will ask if you’d like coffee or tea (the peppermint tea was fantastic–don’t forget to use the strainer though, as it’s made with leaves rather than a bag!), and will also bring you an egg dish. My husband gladly ate mine (I hate eggs!) and said it was delicious.

The buffet is quite a spread–different types of juice, milk, and cereals; yoghurt; tons of fresh fruit; meats and cheeses; bread, rolls, croissants, pastries, cakes, and condiments like butter, jam, and Nutella. Our eyes were a bit bigger than our stomachs but we managed to jam it all in and didn’t need lunch later in the day, we were so full. (As a side note, lunch is not included in the price but is served at the castle for an extra cost, so there’s no need to leave Shoenburg in the middle of the day if you don’t want to!)

Another item of note that I didn’t hear a lot about in the other reviews is the museum. This is located at the base of a tower between the main building and our room, so we passed it and its lively “medieval” music on our way to meals or the garden each time we went up, and our interest was piqued. We headed in after breakfast that first morning and paid something like 5 euro for both of us to head up. The stairs are not for the faint-hearted, but we loved it. Aside from the valuable information learned about castle life on each level of the tower, the views at the top are absolutely amazing! (I know I keep saying that, but seriously, this area is so picturesque!)

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We were so sad to leave after breakfast on our last day, but I think we’ll make a point of coming back some day. It struck me how child-friendly this place would be (except, perhaps, the dinners!) with some rooms having beds for children in hidden cupboards and the gardens which could offer days of exploration and games. We were hugely impressed with Burghotel Auf Shoenburg, and despite it being the priciest leg of our journey, it was worth every penny!

 

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One Response to “Living Like a Queen: Two Nights in Castle Hotel Auf Schoenburg”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Travel Review of Sankt Goar, Germany: 2 Nights on the Rhine | More Than One Page - September 27, 2014

    […] Valley was the place to be for exploring various castles. After staying for a couple of nights in Castle Hotel Auf Schoenburg in Oberwesel, we headed up the Rhine just a little ways to stay in cheaper accommodation in Sankt […]

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