Beaches and Mountains: InterContinental Berchtesgaden

Trip Report Index


I have to be honest, I really don’t want to write a review of this place. I’m dreading it. Why? Because I want the place to myself. The more people that know about the most beautiful place on earth, the higher the rates will be and the more the town of Berchtesgaden will lose its charm.

I think I’ve finally figured out my favorite place on earth. In the past when I wanted to “relax” I would travel to a beach. The thing is, I’m not much of a beach person. I’m the guy that goes to a beach hotel and sits on my balcony happily looking at the beach, without ever going there. It’s just not my thing — the sand, the salt water, etc… bleh.

For whatever reason I never thought of the mountains as a vacation destination, though this was quite possibly the most relaxing two days of my life.

After a two hour drive from Munich Airport on the Autobahn through the stunning Bavarian countryside we made it to the InterContinental Berchtesgaden.

The first cool thing worth noting? The road leading up to the hotel is the steepest in all of Germany, with a gradient of 23 degrees. Made for some fun stick driving!


Driving to Berchtesgaden

As we pulled up to the hotel I had the biggest smile on my face, thinking I had finally found heaven. Literally, this place is amazing.


Entrance to hotel

They call the hotel a “hideaway in the Alps,” and that’s really what it felt like.


Hotel exterior


Hotel exterior

As I pulled up to the hotel we were welcomed by the bellman with a traditional “Grüß Gott” (literally translates to “Greet God”) and asked whether we wanted to park our car.


Hotel entrance

We were escorted to the modern lobby, where check-in was quickly processed. I was thanked for being a Royal Ambassador and we were informed we had been upgraded to a Penthouse Suite because the hotel was full that weekend and they needed to bump us up. Score, especially since we were using a buy one get one free weekend night certificate, meaning we paid 239 Euros for the first night and nothing for the second night.


Hotel lobby

The bellman helped us bring our bags to our suite, noting the facilities along the way, like the lobby lounge.


Hotel lobby bar

The entrance to our suite was located on the third floor, though the Penthouse Suites are two floors, taking up the third and fourth floor of the hotel.


Hotel hallway


Room entrance

The first floor is kind of wasted space since we didn’t spend any time there, though there’s a desk with TV and daybed of sorts.


Room entrance

There’s also a full bathroom with shower and toilet.


Second bathroom

The room led to the balcony, overlooking the center of the resort and surrounding mountains.


Balcony


View from balcony

That led up to the second floor, where the bedroom and living room are located.


Stairs

The living room featured a couch and two chairs, and a door leading out to the deck.


Living room

There was also a large table in the living room which housed the minibar. The minibar doesn’t have any alcohol, but rather only juice and water, which is free for everyone (Royal Ambassadors always get free minibar beverages, though that didn’t do anything for us in this case).


Minibar

Waiting for us above the minibar was the Royal Ambassador welcome gift consisting of a bottle of wine, and a plate with chocolate, crackers, and fruit.


Royal Ambassador welcome gift

The bedroom featured a king bed which overlooked the deck.


Bedroom

The interesting thing about the deck is that it’s not a private balcony, but rather a massive deck shared with all those in Penthouse Suites on the top floor. While it might lack privacy to some (meaning you actually have to put on clothes to go outside), it was awesome to be able to walk around outside just by opening your “back” door.


Outdoor patio

On the other side of the bedroom was the bathroom, which overlooked the center of the resort, with two sinks, a huge walk-in shower, tub, and toilet/bidet.


Bathroom with a view


Shower


Bathtub


Toilet


Closet

While the Penthouse Suite is 154 square meters it doesn’t feel nearly that big since it’s spread out over two floors. Still, it’s quite possibly one of the coolest suites I’ve ever stayed in.

The resort also features a pool, both indoor and outdoor. Both pools are heated, especially the outdoor one which was almost like a hot tub.


Indoor pool

There’s nothing quite as relaxing as swimming with a view of the Alps.


Outdoor pool

The hotel also has a very nice gym and spa, though I didn’t use either.


Gym

But what’s most stunning about the hotel is the location. It’s literally right on top of a mountain with amazing views of the surrounding areas. I got up early the first morning and went for a walk, and I can’t recall ever feeling as good. I’ve never breathed such fresh, clean air as in Berchtesgaden. Given that I was there in August the weather was perfect, probably high 60s or low 70s during the day, a bit cooler at night, though always with sun. It was simply the most refreshed I’ve ever felt.


Walking trail from the hotel

It’s worth noting that while the hotel charges 15 Euros for valet parking, there’s a public parking lot just a three or four minute walk down the hill that we parked at for free.


Parking near hotel

In the next installment I’ll cover Berchtesgaden, which was just amazing. We had breakfast, lunch, and dinner in town both days, so didn’t make use of the restaurants in the hotel, which were obviously priced typically high for an international resort in a small European town. That being said, the InterContinental made an amazing base for exploring the area, and this is hands down my new favorite place on earth to vacation. If you haven’t been to Berchtesgaden wait for the next installment and you’ll see why!

Funny enough a blog reader visited last month after reading my brief review, and he emailed me two weeks ago saying Berchtesgaden “has to be one of the most gorgeous places on earth” and saying the InterContinental was one of his “best hotel experiences ever.”

Since Berchtesgaden is only about two hours from Munich Airport I plan on dropping by every time I’m connecting in Munich, be it just a regional connection or while enroute from the US to Asia.

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Comments

  1. As the “… blog reader (who) visited last month…”, let me expand briefly on the outstanding experience Ms. JMD001 and I had at the IC during the first 3 days of October. Like Lucky, we used a “a buy one get one free weekend night certificate” for the first two nights. This was a particularly good deal since the weekend rack rate was higher than the weekday rate rack rates around the time we were there. Then did an advance purchase for our third night (~25% savings).

    As only a Platinum Ambassador, we did not get a Penthouse Suite, but were upgraded to a third-floor, outward-facing room with a FANTASTIC view. It was the same type of room that we had reserved, but on a higher floor with a better view. No balcony, but the floor-to-ceiling windows were unique in that they could open as doors (pivoting on the side like normal doors), or from the closed position, they could be pivoted at the bottom so it tilted into the room at the top.

    The fact that the sky was cloudless and the temperatures near perfect during our whole stay certainly enhanced our experience.

    The first night we ate dinner in the hotel in main dining room. Ms. JMD001’s pasta dish was so good, she went back and had it for lunch our third day. Our second night, we were so tuckered out and full from lunch in Berchtesgaden that we just had drinks and bar food in the lobby bar for dinner. In short, the hotel food was superb … even at hotel prices.

    Our last night, we finally forced ourselves out of the hotel for dinner. Based on the concierge’s recommendation, we went to the Holzkafer Cafe-Bistro, just a kilometer or two from the hotel. VERY reasonable in price with delicious Bavarian food and incredible atmosphere.

    Like Lucky, I am reluctant to give the place too many more accolades. Don’t want too much competition for a room the next time we go back!

  2. Great report! I’ll be in Munich next week, so I’m DEFINATELY going visit Berchtesgaden.

    Quick question: With only one bed in the room, who got the bed? You or your friend?

  3. Looks magnificent. And even though they said it was sold out, based on the photos, it appears that you guys had the place all to yourselves! I think I’ll have to add this to my list of places to visit before I die.

    @Moodz: Seriously?

  4. Bavaria is an awesome destination. While serving in the military in the 80’s I was able to visit southern Germany many times. The best experiences of my life have been there – both then and also now with my spouse 😉

    If you love this kind of setting, I would highly recommend visiting the Hakone area of Japan. The Hyatt is supurb (like you, I hesitate urges to gush about it, as I selfishly want to keep this gem to myself – but tourism is way down, so might as well share it!).

  5. Since the location is associated with the words, “Hitler” and “Nazi” — I’m wondering if there still is a stigma attached and that is why it is not well visited. Also, was the hotel itself used by Hitler at some point? Many would never stay in a place that Hitler regarded as “home” and “a place to conduct the Nazi war effort.”

    I think these questions are fair to raise in the context of a place you describe as one of the most beautiful.

    Here’s Wiki’s entry:

    The area of Obersalzberg was purchased by the Nazis in the 1920s for their senior leaders to enjoy. Hitler’s mountain residence, the Berghof, was located here. Berchtesgaden and its environs (Stanggass) were fitted to serve as an outpost of the German Reichskanzlei office (Imperial Chancellery), which sealed the area’s fate as a strategic objective for Allied forces in World War II. Some typical Third Reich buildings in Berchtesgaden include the railway station, that had a reception area for Hitler and his guests, and the post office next to the railway station. The Berchtesgadener Hof Hotel was a hotel where famous visitors stayed, such as Eva Braun, Erwin Rommel, Joseph Goebbels, and Heinrich Himmler, as well as Neville Chamberlain and David Lloyd George. The hotel was torn down in 2006. There is a museum on the spot now, called Haus der Berge.

    [edit] The ObersalzbergA number of other relics of the Nazi era can still be found in the area, although only few of them are still well preserved. There is the Kehlsteinhaus (nicknamed “Eagle’s Nest” by a French diplomat), which was built as a present for Hitler’s 50th birthday in 1939. The remnants of homes of former Nazi leaders—such as Adolf Hitler, Hermann Göring, and Martin Bormann—were all demolished in the early postwar years.

    The only remaining fully intact buildings are the former SS HQ at Hotel Zum Türken, Albert Speer’s house and the Kehlsteinhaus. A small part of the Platterhof is also still there. The information centre on the mountain is the former guesthouse Höher Göll. It has an entrance to the Obersalzberg bunker system.

  6. @ jmd001 — Thanks for coming clean. 😉

    @ Moodz — One of the frustrations as a hotel elite is that you typically have the choice between a standard room with two beds or a suite with one bed. I’ll always take the suite with one bed, even if traveling with a friend. Maybe it’s the European in me, but I have no problem sharing a bed with a platonic friend. Just put a pillow in the middle and there’s plenty of room for two people.

    @ CDiddy — Hah, now that I look at my pictures, I realize that with the exception of the third picture, not a single one has any person in it. It definitely never felt crowded, though not *that* empty.

    @ tivoboy — Must be amazing. Not sure I trust myself to drive up that hill in winter, but nice nonetheless. 😀

    @ SAN Greg — The region as a whole has probably become my favorite place on earth.

    @ Michael — Given that the hotel isn’t very old, I doubt Hitler ever stayed there. If anything people flock to Berchtesgaden because of the Hitler association, since there’s a lot of history in the region. I don’t think there was any negative stigma associated with it. It’s a popular tourist destination for Germans, though I just don’t think very many people outside of Germany know about it.

  7. Wish you had taken some pics of the restaurants in the hotel anyway…no buffet spread pics? Lucky, how could you! 😉

    One thing I found interested about the bathroom was the mirrors on the windows…unusual, but kind of cool looking.

  8. Berchtesgaden (and its neighbor Koenigssee) is one of my favorite places too. In fact I have been there twice in the past year. Started going in 1981 and fell in love with the place then. Plus, there is a bobsled track in the area, which is one of my favorite hobbies (to watch, though I have ridden in one too).

  9. @ Lucky — Given that there is an entire epsiode of Band of Brothers about the takeover of Berchtesgaden by Easy Company, it is not as much of secret as you think it is.

  10. @lucky. When I was there I was an RA and they picked us up at the rail station in a G-wagen. I wondered why they wanted my train arrival information.

  11. Hurry up and post some more content on this blog so that this post gets buried! Save Berchtesgaden! 😛

  12. Ben,

    While I have not been to Berchtesgaden, this trip report still brings back good memories of the stunning Alps!
    I spent a week at a the Schloss Mittersill (the hotel rooms inside aren’t as posh as an InterContinental, but come on-it’s a freakin’ 900-yr old castle on a hill–you should check it out sometime), in the Austrian Alps.
    Anyways, I know what you mean about the stunning views and fresh air, it’s certainly very tough to beat! The Alps certainly have some of the most breathtaking views on Earth!

  13. @Paul — Ms. JMD001 and I probably don’t know more than a dozen or so basic civility words/phrases in German (e.g., Guten Tag, Danke, Bitte) and had NO problem in the hotel, the town, or the area attractions.

  14. 23 degree gradient or 23 percent? The former is almost double the latter — 23º is about 42% , and 23% is about 13º.

  15. I couldn’t agree with you more about this InterContinental! We got “snowed in” during an October visit, I have photos taken off the balcony so gorgeous that I could publish them. Three nights of absolute heaven, and the weather moderated enough so we could go out every day for a few hours. This is truly a marvelous hotel, I only wish I had tried the pool.

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