Wondering what to do if you are celebrating a special birthday, but the long-haul travel you’d planned for such an event is a distant memory thanks to Small Person No. 3’s impending arrival (which I obviously don’t mind by the way!)? You could sulk about what might have been, sad about not visiting friends in far-flung places as originally planned (next year, promise!), or you could resign yourself to the fact that you are going to have to opt for somewhere a little closer to “home” instead, and put your Significant Other in charge of booking something. Might I suggest the latter, which is how we ended up spending a wonderful few days at Schloss Elmau recently, and I ended up being a completely spoiled brat!?
This place describes itself as a “Luxury Spa & Cultural Hideaway”, and has been on our Bavaria “bucket list” for quite some time (having been recommended by friends). You might have heard of it recently when it hosted a certain political summit, and undoubtedly gave Bavarian tourism a boost with perfect alpine images flashed across the globe during its entirety.
The book-worm in her natural environment
Schloss Elmau also happens to be incredibly family friendly. Fear not child haters, that doesn’t mean you need suffer the offspring of others (in fact I think you could easily plan a stay so that you wouldn’t have to set eyes on any small person at all), but for those of us with children, this place is pretty much perfect! There’s so much on offer, including food, literary and music festivals at times, but even without anything happening, this place makes for a special family stay – especially as these sort of establishments don’t usually extend such a welcoming hand to small people!
We arrived on a Thursday afternoon in time for tea and cake in the lounge, whilst the children deliberated over their “edutainment” choices. I hasten to add that this is not your typical “do the macarena around the swimming pool” kind of kid’s entertainment that the words typically bring to mind – you get your monies worth here, and besides the usual football and tennis clubs, there’s some pretty impressive stuff laid on including debating clubs, science workshops, hikes in the mountains, cycling adventures, and paddle-boarding to name but a few activities (plus skiing etc. in the winter months). Strictly off limits to parents by the way, sorry about that!
Birthday breakfast in a birthday castle
And, after an incredibly early start the following morning (having been roused out of a deep slumber by a swift poke in the eye by a Small Boy wielding a birthday card), we enjoyed a delectable in-room breakfast for my birthday, together with the most spectacular views as the sun made its way steadily up over the mountains. We then packed our offspring off for a morning’s Science Experimentation Workshop whilst we endured the hardships of the adult only roof top spa, the infinity pool, and the deafening sound of silence.
It was probably ten minutes into the above mentioned ordeal (after a few laps of the empty pool, and with one foot sticking out of a cabana as I attempted to read whilst being distracted by the views), that I asked for next year’s birthday present as well – an extra night in this fantastic place. It wasn’t hard to twist Mr R’s arm on this occasion, and quality time together won the day…
By the way, when you book as a family, children’s meals are included as part of the package. Special lunches are put on in the main dining room (with parents able to pick from the menu and eat en-famille, or save themselves for lunch later on in one of the many restaurants once offspring are back to gallivanting!)… Evening meals again are all-inclusive for children in the main restaurants, but should you really push the boat out (as we did for my birthday meal at the very lovely Luce d’Oro – more on that later!) and dine elsewhere, then that may well cost extra.
We left feeling completely relaxed and happy after a wonderful short break. We all loved the location and stunning views and surroundings. Mr R particularly enjoyed the food, the spa and being able to test the resident BMW i8 (he has put one on his Christmas list. He most definitely hasn’t been good enough!).
The Small people loved the “edutainment” that they learned so much from, the food, the pools, and the fact that their parents were so relaxed that ice-cream requests and the like were usually met with a favourable reaction.
And I loved the fact that I got to spend my birthday in such beautiful surroundings, and spend some quality time with my family in a place that was incredibly luxurious but without any arrogance. The spas were incredible (and never felt busy!) and for the first time in ages we could really unwind. Being heavily pregnant I wasn’t able to experience the Hamam and the saunas obviously, so I will just look forward to that next time (do bear in mind that the fact that we booked at the height of summer meant that there were only Schloss rooms available (no a.c. by the way people – this is a castle after all, but they have a ready supply of fans!), and I think rooms in the more recently built Retreat might be better suited to families space wise. And that honestly is my only slight complaint about our entire stay)… A special occasion place most definitely.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a letter to write about my next visit… Dear Father Christmas…
PS. I can also confirm it’s just as gorgeous in the rain!
Tel: +49 (0) 88 23 – 180