Review: InterContinental Berchtesgaden

Introduction
Executive Club Houston Airport
Lufthansa First Class Houston to Frankfurt
Getting paid $150/hour to sit in the First Class Lounge
Sheraton Salzburg
InterContinental Berchtesgaden
The Hotel Brussels
Hilton Frankfurt Airport
Lufthansa First Class Frankfurt to Miami
Dad’s Thoughts


I’ve written a post in the past about my four favorite places on earth, and long time readers will know that Berchtesgaden, Germany is one of them. While my dad is from Germany he had never visited Berchtesgaden, so this was at the very top of his list of places to visit.

As a result we decided to spend two nights there, following our night at the Sheraton Salzburg. I’ve stayed at the hotel twice before and reviewed it extensively, here and here.

So I’ll make this review brief, covering only things that were different this stay. We left Salzburg in the mid-afternoon, and the drive to Berchtesgaden took about 30 minutes. There’s no doubt that’s much more convenient than flying into Munich, which can easily be a two hour drive with traffic. Then again if you can take a transatlantic flight directly into Munich, that’s probably your best bet.

I’m no longer a Royal Ambassador with InterContinental, but rather am only an Ambassador member now. On paper the difference in perks between the two status levels isn’t huge at this property. Internet is now free for all IHG Rewards Club elite members, so I’d receive that either way. Also, at this hotel the minibar is free for everyone. Usually only Royal Ambassador members get the minibar contents for free, but since this one just has water and juice it’s free for everyone.

We booked an executive studio room for ~225 Euros per night, and got upgraded to an executive panorama studio room, which basically just has a better view. As a Royal Ambassador I had been upgraded to a penthouse suite in the past, but the executive panorama studio was plenty spacious.

Our room was on the third floor, and featured a large entryway with the bathroom to the left and closets to the right.

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Executive Panorama Studio entryway

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Executive Panorama Studio

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Executive Panorama Studio living area

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Executive Panorama Studio bed

On the desk was a welcome amenity consisting of fruit and some sweets.

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Ambassador welcome amenity

The minibar was located near the entryway and consisted of tons of juice and water.

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Minibar

There was also a selection of tea as well as some granola bars and chocolate, all of which were complimentary as well.

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Tea and snacks

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Coffee

The bathroom was spacious, with double sinks, a walk-in shower, tub, and toilet.

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Executive Panorama Studio bathroom

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Executive Panorama Studio bathtub

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Executive Panorama Studio shower

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Executive Panorama Studio toilet

The toiletries were all Agraria branded, which I hadn’t seen before, though they were quite good.

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Toiletries

The previous two times I was in Berchtesgaden were in the peak of summer, and suffice to say the weather was gorgeous. Like literally among the most beautiful weather I’ve ever seen anywhere. This time around, not so much, sadly. It was raining almost nonstop, though the last day there was a bit of sunshine, and we even got a nice rainbow view from our room.

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View from our room

The one thing that doesn’t suck when it rains is the outdoor heated pool. The views from it are stunning, and you really can’t beat the sensation of being in hot water with cold rain dripping on your head.

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Outdoor pool

We made the best of our time in Berchtesgaden, and in a way the contrast between the nasty weather and beautiful landscape made the area even prettier.

We visited all the places I’ve covered in previous trip reports, like the town of Berchtesgaden, the salt mine, etc. We also made a trip to Königsee, which is pretty touristy though still beautiful.

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Walking towards Königsee

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Walking towards Königsee

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Near Königsee

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Königsee

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Königsee

We also went up to the Eagle’s Nest, which is about a 15 minute bus ride. The bus leaves just a few minutes from the InterContinental, and has to be one of the coolest bus rides ever, as you drive up the side of a mountain and at many points feel you’re going to drive over the edge. But the views from the top are amazing.

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View from the Eagle’s Nest

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View from the Eagle’s Nest

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Eagle’s Nest

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Snowy mountains above the Eagle’s Nest

The one point of contention between my dad and I was when we were going out to dinner and my dad thought it would be “cool” for him to wear his Bavarian leather blazer. So at first I found it terribly embarrassing, but then I realized I really want one. Could you imagine wearing one of those in public in the US?

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Bavarian leather blazer

So my dad and I had a really great time. He loved Berchtesgaden, and of course was thrilled to be in his home country eating meat from every animal on the face on the earth (while I’m more of a quasi-pescetarian, so…). He also loved the InterContinental, and said it was one of the top five hotels he has ever stayed at (and in fairness he has stayed at a lot of great hotels back in the day).

Now that I’ve done Berchtesgaden three times I don’t need to return anytime soon, unless I’m playing tour guide. But both the region and InterContinental are really, really, really awesome.

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Comments

  1. You should TOTALLY buy one of those leather Bavarian blazers. However, I would recommend pairing it with a frilly pirate shirt for that retro-80s Prince look. Just FYI, most likely I’m in the same generation as your dad LOL.

  2. Hey Lucky, great report as usual. Absolutely love the new pics of the surrounding area.

    I’m planning a trip for late this year or spring of 2014 with the GF. I showed her your other reports of Berchtesgaden, and she loved ’em. So it definitely made our short list of potential destitinations, but we still have a (minor) trepidation. As you mentioned Berchtesgaden is deep in the heart of Germany, so how is visiting the area for non-German speakers.

  3. Berchtesgaden, Germany has been one of the major US military resorts for 50 years after WWII. English widely spoken.

    The InterContinental is located on the site of the former U.S. Armed Forces General Walker Hotel vacation resort where I spent several vacation weeks as a teenager military brat living in Germany.

  4. “much more convenient than flying into Munich, which can easily be a two hour drive with traffic.”

    Try four hours when we drove there from MUC on a Saturday morning at the peak of snow season!

  5. Southern Bavaria and Western Austria are probably my favorite parts of Europe. The view of the Watzmann is just fabulous and it really is an escape from the crowds around much of Europe.

  6. Wow! Eye candy pictures of the area. Great HD photography.

    If you purchase the blazer, what are the odds someone in Asia will ask you if they can buy it from you? 😉

  7. I went to Berchtesgaden for the first time in the summer and the weather was awesome. Went to Konigsee and Eagle’s nest and walked all around town. Had a great and relaxing time. We stayed at Hotel Bavaria because we didn’t rent a car. Taking the bus everywhere was fine. Thanks Lucky for introducing me to a great place! 🙂

  8. My father and I made a day trip from Munich to Berchtesgaden back in August. We rented a BMW at the BMW Welt and the drive was about two hours each way. Breathtakingly beautiful and driving a bimmer on the Autobahn was on my bucket list.

  9. As a potential way of getting around traffic issues in Munich, the train ride from Munich to Salzburg is not long. One could fly into Munich, take the train to Salzburg, spend a day there and then drive to Berchtesgaden.

    (I’ve been to Germany thrice, and never rented a car or taking an intra-Germany flight… I’ve been from Bavaria to Berlin to Düsseldorf, all on the Bahn. It’s really quite comfortable and reasonably priced, and makes award tickets to Frankfurt quite worthwhile even if your real destination is elsewhere in the country.)

    I also recommend a stop at Prien am Chiemsee, which is on the train line between Munich and Salzburg, and which has a beautiful lake with an island on which “Mad” King Ludwig II built one of his palaces, modeled after Versailles. It is a lovely little town, and the majority of tourists that you find there are German, which is a change from the “big” spots like Munich, Berchtesgaden, etc. (At least that was the case the couple times that I’ve been..)

  10. Great photos! How did you manage with the hotel being some distance from the town? I have only ever stayed in the town itself. I imagine this being much more of a “resort” type experience.

  11. The A8 out of Munich can be a complete drag, at least until the A93 peels off halfway to the border. Stau! On a Friday afternoon leaving the BMW Welt it’s really a toss up whether to take the inner ring to the A8 or go up the A9 to the outer ring A99.

    The truck stop just prior to the Austrian border is a good place to stop for a Coke and candy bar. Into Austria navigating Salzburg by car is relatively easy even if staying in the old town. Just out of the Sigmundstor there are several huge parking garages built into the mountain. One just steps from the Goldener Hirsch.

    Remember there are a couple of Starwood luxury chateau hotels just outside Salzburg as well. Continuing driving the A10 in Austria south towards Villach is a totally spectacular drive, especially on a sunny day!

    The A1 towards Vienna is a mostly boring affair.

  12. Hey Lucky, what’s the best season/month of the year in your mind to visit Berchtesgaden? Summer?

    I would like to plan a visit next year but may limit my trip in Nov around Thxgiving. How about that time?

    TIA 🙂

  13. @ Andy F. — A lot of people like to go in winter, but I really love summer.

    It’ll be cold around Thanksgiving, but could still be a lot of fun.

  14. Intercontinentals, at least in my experience, have those toiletries in non-suites and Gilchrist and Soames toiletries in suites.

  15. Another good one and again I congratulate you for sharing the trip with your Father. I’ve read your prior reviews of the intercon at B’garten and seen the pix. My impression was – and remains that the hotel is fine, but they don’t do very well with their grounds. Perhaps that is a seasonal problem, but some places looked a little run-down. I’ve never stayed their, again preferring smaller, more personal accommodations with hands-on service, especially in Europe. I won’t mention names, but three of my favorites have become annual visits. After ten years in all cases and pushing 30 in one of them, the inn keepers treat me like family. The keeper’s children on my first visit are now the operators and they welcome me as they would a family member. (In one case, I’ve even hosted a couple of the owner’s kids in my home for a few days,) There are no points or commercial perks when staying in these inns and sometimes the price can be dear. I find them to be a bargain for the comfort received and usually spend at least a week with each, every year. All three follow the ‘all Inclusive’ practice; two have given me substantial discounts in recent years both because I generate some WOM business for them and because I rarely drink more than a glass of house with a meal. (European taxes on distilled spirits are **extremely** high and I’d rather focus on what momma has on the stove for that evening.) Yes, a different style of travel. The end cost may be about the same, but I’ve become fond of the personal connections with these towns and the inn keepers that I visit. I’m working on a couple of similar connections in Asia, but Europe remains my go-to place to unwind and reconnect with rarely seen friends. I thought that this might end when I retired, but I keep going and I guess I enjoy it even more. I’ve made my month-long circuit many times in spring and summer. 2011-2012 was the first time that I tried it in the dark of winter and it was just as much fun! (One inn was seasonally closed, but gave me a family room and a warm welcome, complete with borrowed **serious** winter gear that I don’t own. All three did that to varying degrees.) In the end, I keep going to that part of our world simply because I enjoy it so much. I like the environment of a traditional inn better than the First World mechanics of planting Amerikan standards into a two-hundred year old building. There may not be a Club Lounge before dinner, but traditional snacks and a glass of the local grape juice abound. Have you ever tried the role of honored guest among locals? If not, unwind a bit and give it a try. The service is better and focused on one; the food is beyond belief and the opportunity to unwind from the daily grind cannot get any better. Bavaria and extended regions abound with smaller inns that specialize is this kind of guest accommodation. I know… “No Points, I won’t go…” Since the points game seems to be dying a slow, painful death, perhaps you should explore some broader options. You won’t regret it.

  16. Just a note for those who come after: the juices in the minibar are not complementary for those who are just IHG rewards club members. Fortunately I had only drank one before I started wondering and called the front desk.

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