I fell head over heels in love with Das Kranzbach last summer. An English country house set deep in the Bavarian countryside, it features elegantly bold interior designs and a wellness area to delight even the most discerning of guests. It’s just over an hour away from Munich and yet it feels like another world.
I was invited to enjoy a weekend of Britishness, in the most British building Bavaria has to offer. Das Kranzbach was commissioned by Mary Isabel Portman, having bought the pastures near Garmisch-Partenkirchen in 1913. I’m quite a fan of Mary Portman – she was a wonderfully independent woman with a colourful history. She was an English aristocrat who was friends with the cultural elite – for ten years, she wrote weekly with Virginia Woolf, and was taught violin by August Wilhelmj.
Work on Portman’s manor house – which she envisaged as a meeting point for Europe’s artists and musicians – began in 1913, but a year later, war broke out. In December 1914, the New York Times ran a piece on Mary Portman’s financial state – the war had left her unable to receive money from England and subsequently unable to pay her builders. It remains unclear as to whether Portman ever returned to her home near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, and she died in Switzerland in 1931.
Thankfully, she hasn’t been forgotten. Mary Portman didn’t know it, but she instigated Bavaria’s most wonderful hotel.
I arrived on a gloriously sunny Friday afternoon, and checked in to my room in the old house (last year I stayed in the modern section of the hotel, so it was nice to try out the traditional part)…
…before heading downstairs to the garden, to mix cocktails with barkeeper Thomas. Mine was the martini:
After cocktails, we headed through the house to dinner.
Dinner was a four course affair, as much salad as you could possibly eat and platters of cheese to round things off.
Full and sleepy, we headed to bed, keen to be fit for a competitive game of croquet the following morning.
I awoke to 31°C and clear blue skies. Breakfast, as I mentioned last year, is well worth getting up for. There’s everything you could wish for – porridge, scrambled eggs, sausages, omelettes, fruit, hams and cheeses, pastries and breads, local honeycomb, homemade jams, muesli…oh I could go on. Das Kranzbach transforms you into a morning person, even if the thought of getting up early on a Saturday makes you groan. Look at the view from the breakfast table:
After breakfast, croquet got underway. Reminiscent of the England football team at the World Cup this year, I lost at my own country’s sport. Twice. I must have been too busy ogling the Zugspitze in the background.
It was time for a well-earned lie down. I settled down with a book by the pool, occasionally jumping in for a little respite from the heat.
And then, it was time for afternoon tea. Das Kranzbach’s deputy manager, Mario Pabst, had rather sweetly done his research on tea time, so as not to make any errors with an Englishwoman present. I think he knew more than me. We were offered Darjeeling and Assam, sandwiches (alas, not with cucumber, which I have a real soft spot for) and scones with jam. I love to watch Germans eat scones, because they invariably take one big bite and wonder why it’s so dry.
As dusk fell, the evening was spent enjoying dinner, the rather kitsch mountain backdrop and good wine.
Sonja Schön, an astrologist and Arts and Craft enthusiast held a talk afterwards, about the Arts and Craft Movement in the early twentieth century. It was fascinating, and I had no idea just how influential William Morris was in Great Britain. Besides leading the Arts and Craft Movement, he also founded the UK’s Socialist League. He inspired the German artist Melchior Lechter – and it just so happens, that Sonja has one of the country’s biggest collections of his original work. It was fascinating to sit and pore over the intricate books, many of them over a hundred years old, and it was a lovely way to round up a weekend of British delights at Das Kranzbach.
Rooms at Das Kranzbach are available from 155 € per night, per person for a stay of under a week. The romantic tree house is available for 255 € per night, per person during the week, or 275 € at the weekend. If you’re celebrating your honeymoon (or just fancy a whole lot of luxury), the treehouse is a dream.
If the whole family’s planning on visiting (grown up children only), the gatehouse is stunning. Equipped with a small kitchen, a lounge, and two double rooms with ensuite bathrooms, it’s a little further away from the other guests, allowing you maximum privacy.
Whichever room you stay in at Das Kranzbach, I guarantee it’ll be pure luxury with a splendid view.