Sometimes, all it takes is a two-hour drive to make you feel like you’re on holiday. Last weekend I headed northeast – to the Bayerischer Wald – to rejuvenate and relax.
I’d been invited to check out Hotel Lindenwirt, a four-star wellness hotel half an hour from the Czech border. Originally a farmhouse, the hotel has been renovated over the years, most recently in 2012, to include a huge, modern sauna area, a swimming pond, a pool and a treatment spa.
Unusually for a wellness hotel, children are welcomed – making it ideal as a getaway for the whole family, yet still offering parents some quiet time.The sauna area is out-of-bounds for kids, so if you find you need some peace, you can retreat to the loungers at the rear of the hotel.
Every room is named after a plant, and mine was called Liebstöckel (lovage). It was more of an apartment than a hotel room – there was a gallery area with extra beds, a sofa, a table and chair, and the bed overlooked the balcony, which in turn overlooked the hot tub.
After a wander around, it was time for a bite to eat. The hotel focuses on healthy, organic and (wherever possible) regional food. There’s an emphasis on vegan dishes, and even the breakfast buffet offers vegan scrambled eggs.
Dinner started with a salad buffet. Then, there was the choice between a carrot soup or a fennel and melon juice. I got off to a healthy start (I had my eye on the dessert), with the juice, before devouring beef olives with mashed potato. It was homely, hearty food. Dessert was a cream puff with blackberry ice cream, which I inhaled.
And the wine, oh the wine. I had chosen the restaurant’s recommendation – a 2012 cuvee from Weingut Gehring, a vineyard on the banks of the Rhine. The grape variety is a secret, but whatever blend it is, it’s a winner. It was fruity, memorable and very drinkable.
Saturday was meant to start with a swim in the pond, but I couldn’t quite drag myself out of bed in time. After a long, leisurely breakfast, I headed to the spa, where I spent an hour enjoying a deep, long massage from Elena. The team at the Lindenwirt have fantastic masseuses and I was super relaxed by the time it was over. I snuggled up in a swinging hammock, drank ginger tea and snoozed.
But the sun was shining, and I was determined to make the most of my day of wellness. I headed out to the pond and swam a few lengths, which, among lilypads, is far lovelier than doing laps of a chlorinated pool.
After lunch (salads, soups, a hot meal and cake in the restaurant, or salads and cake in the spa bistro), it was time to take wellness more seriously. I sweated it out in the steam room and the 80°C sauna, before cooling off in the outdoor plunge pool. There are hourly Aufguß sessions with gongs and aromas. The brand new sauna area is the hotel’s best feature. It’s contemporary, sleek and stylish, and houses a huge relaxation room with loungers and beds, for those icy winter days.
To an afternoon cream puff.
I started off healthily (again) – with a beetroot and blueberry juice. Then, the healthy eating went to pot (again). There was an indulgent wild boar ragout on sheets of buttery puff pastry, followed by pheasant and grilled watermelon. The dessert was all about cherries – amarena cherries and vanilla cream, and amarena ice cream on a crunchy honeycomb wafer. All drizzled with cherry coulis. And yes, that was just one dessert.
Desperate to walk off the previous night’s pudding, I awoke early the next day and headed to the hills. In nearby Schareben there are gentle hikes, wild raspberries and lots of wildlife, such as this guy:
I will never get over how lucky I am to live in Munich. The Bavarian National Park is two hours away, and a hiker’s paradise. Combined with wellness at Hotel Lindenwirt, it makes for a relaxing long weekend away. Rooms are available from 103 € per night for a double room at the weekend, and this includes 3/4 board (breakfast, lunchtime salads/soups and cakes and an evening meal).
The Bayerischer Wald offers activities aplenty. Hikes range from easy 1 hour strolls across gently rolling hills to the Grosser Rachel, at 1452m the tallest peak in the park – and one I’m desperate to climb, as she’s my namesake. Cyclists can ride from village to village, cross-country skiers can work up a sweat in the winter and nature-lovers can spot deer, lynx, wood grouse and thousands of birds, bugs and mammals. Conversely, you can simply kick off your hiking boots, throw on your dressing gown and spend lazy days at the Hotel Lindenwirt, with prosecco in one hand and a good book in the other.