Our family traveled to Schloss Elmau in February, a luxury family-friendly hotel located 90 minutes from Munich in a valley of the Bavarian Alps. This was our first journey to a locale so remote. As a family with young (ish) children, we are constantly trying to find a balance in our vacations; we seek destinations that provide both family fun and relaxation for the parents. Our visit to Schloss Elmau was the best combination of these two ideals we have found to date.
Schloss Elmau was originally a castle built in 1916 by philosopher Dr. Johannes Muller for his readers who wanted to enjoy nature, classical music and personal development. In many ways, the hotel continues to embrace the direction of Dr. Muller; there are concerts, world-renowned speakers and authors that frequent the hotel both as guests and lectures. The castle was destroyed by a fire in 2005 and rebuilt and expanded in 2007 by his grandson; the renovation was so detailed and meticulous that it is difficult to tell where the old ends and the new begins.
The hotel is luxurious in an understated manner and there is a loveliness and warmth that extends from the entryway to the rooms themselves. We stayed in two types of rooms during our visit. The first room was in the main building and part of the original castle. The room had a king sized bed and a comfortable sofa bed (truly!) for the kids. Although staying in one room with kids can be tiring for parents, the hotel is mindfully structured to lure guests out of their rooms and into the common rooms, which are relaxing and appealing.
The other room combination we stayed in was a two-bedroom/two-bathroom suite adjacent to the main hotel. These suites include a living room and loft that can easily accommodate a family of up to six people.
In our past travels we have been to properties that have onsite restaurants that are convenient, but the food is lacking quality and can be expensive. Schloss Elmau is the exception. There are multiple restaurants on the property and all of them are fantastic. We had a family fondue dinner at The Kaminstruberl and sat in front of a large fire and it was a meal none of us will soon forget. The food was delicious and service was informative and friendly.
One of our favorite things about this hotel is the main dining room, The La Salle, not only for it’s food, but also because they have meals for kids ready for most the day. There is always a counter open where a chef is preparing a kids meal, so the kids don’t have to sit down and order and wait when they are hungry.
This particular vacation was an active one for us, everyday we spent time sledding, hiking and swimming. So, our kids were hungry, a lot! It is for this reason that the buffet in the dining room being open and well stocked with delicious food most of the day was so wonderful for us, we were able to pop in when they were hungry and continue on with our next activity.
Our family agreed that the breakfast buffet at The La Salle is the best we’ve ever experienced. There are options for every type of eater and the food ranges from from omelets to pancakes, with an additional offering of countless cereals, yogurts, fruit purees, cheeses, fruits, breads, honeycomb and every type of juice imaginable. The only downside is that we all ate too much at every meal!
There are many common spaces throughout the hotel that encourage community and family togetherness. There is a large common room that has a fire in the winter, comfortable and inviting sofas, chairs and board games and looks out onto the Alps with all their boundless wonder. This room also has tea time everyday around two o’clock and cake is served as a treat for all guests. This quickly became a favorite part of the day for our family. A different cake is served every day and set out on a table for the guests to enjoy. A myriad of coffee (or hot chocolate!) can also be ordered in this room at any time.
We went on multiple hour-long hikes during our stay. One hike was on a fire road that led to a great, mountain lodge restaurant with traditional German fare and, of course, beer. We sat outside and enjoyed a nice lunch before hiking back to the hotel. Many of these trails can be taken directly from the property. There are extensive hikes that begin only a few minutes away. Hiking maps are available at the hotel.
In the family spa, the pool is open 24 hours a day, and for our family, who loves to swim, this was truly a favorite. The pool is also equipped with pool floatation devices like kick boards and noodles as well as water polo nets and balls. There are also family saunas and relaxation rooms; all provide the same welcoming feel as the rest of the spa.
The adult-only spa is in another building with multiple pools here, relaxation rooms and saunas. The surroundings are more tranquil than the family spa and it boasts an amazing view of the Alps.
To add to the ease and convenience for families, the hotel as an equipment rental center that makes all sports oriented activity easy to do with kids. A family can rent all the necessary equipment for a day of skiing, snowboarding, or ice-skating. We spent most of the days sledding on the property and the hotel provided several sleds that we could use and return at our leisure. We also rented some ice skates and drove to a nearby ice arena for a couple hours of skating. The hotel actually has a pond for skating onsite, but it was not open during our visit.
The property is vast and located on 47 acres of land, however, in the immediate area, in and around the hotel, depending on the age of your children, it is safe for them to roam around. For example, we let our kids leave the room, get the sleds and begin sledding while we put some things in order and met them on the hill a few minutes later. To have this level of comfort is a rare thing and one that we, as parents, treasure immensely. They can go from the room to the main lounge and there is such a feeling of family and safety.
For our family, Schloss Elmau was one of our all-time favorite destinations. It’s one of those resorts that is desirable to visit in every season as it offers different, amazing activities. We can’t wait to go back to in the summer months when the natural spa, climbing wall and playground are open.
The hotel is welcoming and luxurious without being overdone and the service is second to none. However, what makes this hotel special is not just the attributes traditionally associated with a luxury hotel, there the true sense of caring, of wanting families to relax and to enjoy the setting of the Alps and all the natural beauty-they seek. This makes the hotel a pleasure for everyone and a place where people with and without kids seamlessly integrate and can enjoy themselves completely and equally.
See our full kid-friendly hotel review of Schloss Elmau for more information and to check availability. When you use our form to reach out to a hotel for pricing, it goes to them directly for the best available pricing. One of Ciao Bambino’s Family Vacation Consultants will also follow up with you to ensure all quote needs are met.
The Ciao Bambino Family Vacation Consulting Team can help with everything from accommodation booking to full itineraries including activities, guides, and advising regarding logistics. Request assistance on our Connect with a Travel Advisor page.
Editor’s Note: Schloss Elmau provided a media package for Ciao Bambino to review the hotel. As always, our opinions are our own. Photos provided by Kirsten Gaddis and Schloss Elmau.
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