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The Charles Munich, Schloss Monchstein & Schloss Elmau mini review

The Charles Munich, Schloss Monchstein & Schloss Elmau mini review

Old Jan 7, 19, 1:50 pm
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The Charles Munich, Schloss Monchstein & Schloss Elmau mini review

We just got back from a blustery two weeks in Germany and Austria we were two families traveling together each with a 4 year old and a 1 year old.

Our first stop was the Charles Hotel in Munich. We debated heavily between this hotel and the Mandarin but ultimately chose the Charles because of their suite deal for kids which included a free connecting room with a suite among other benefits. The room ended up being enormous even without the connecting room all for a price lower than the MO's much smaller Jr. Suite. All in all the Charles was an excellent hotel, that clearly catered to families... it was packed with them. The rooms were very nice (if not a little sparse.) but comfortable. The service was very friendly. I would definitely recommend The Charles especially for those traveling with kids.

Second was Schloss Monchstein in Salzburg. This was the surprise of the trip. We had booked a Jr Suite connecting to another Jr. Suite but upon arrival we were met by the manager who was distraught. They were overbooked with families and didn't have any connecting rooms for our first evening. She immediately offered an upgrade to their Apollo Suite. It was a beautiful suite with a city view, dining area and sizeable living room. Not sure why we she was so worried we wouldn't take the upgrade but of course we did. It was right off the lobby but had a very long hallway that made it seem like it was miles away. Schloss Monchstein is a quirky castle hotel high above Salzburg on a cliff. To get to the center of town you have to walk about 7 minutes through the forrest to the Modern Art Museum and take an elevator down a rock wall, and you're deposited in the middle of Salzburg. It's an easy walk and fun. The hotel itself looks like it was recently updated, the rooms feature state of the art electronics, including TVs that turn into framed art of your choosing and Nest smart thermometers. The service, while not perfect, was enthusiastic and incredibly nice. We didn't have a chance to visit the spa but it looked nice as well. We had NYE at the hotels Glass Restaurant which was a modern glass room built into the side of the castle. The views of the city and their endless fireworks were spectacular. There are only 20 rooms in the hotel so it never felt crowded even at full capacity. This was my favorite hotel of the trip and wouldn't hesitate to recommend. We strongly considered the Sacher, but the rooms at the Monchstein were so much larger and a fraction of the price.

Lastly, we spent 6 days at Schloss Elmau. I was expecting to love this hotel, especially with how well regarded it is here on FT. But I was a little let down. We arrived by rental car and immediately I was struck with the lack of service. There were no real signs pointing to the front of the huge hotel, or where we should park, or check in. There were no doormen, or porters to greet us. We pulled up to what I guessed was the entrance and found my way to reception. For such a grand looking building the main entrance is pretty lackluster. I was expecting a grand lobby... it's more like an office building. The service never got better. Some of it is definitely the language barrier. This is clearly a hotel that caters mostly to a local clientele, there were few if any other Americans. I don't fault them for that. But for us the service was the worst of our trip.

We stayed in the Wettenstein Wing which is part of the main building, mostly because we didn't want to have to trudge through the snow with the kids to get to the restaurants. We had a Wetterstein suite which was the smallest of all the rooms we had stayed this trip. The layout was excellent though, sliding glass doors allowed a lot of different configurations. The views were beautiful, but the weather didn't allow for many of them. The rooms themselves felt a little sad. Tiny bathrooms, worn wood cabinets, hard beds. The whole hotel lacked a level of luxury I was expecting. It certainly had a lot of activities, and the kids club was great. The food was consistently good to excellent (The Thai was very good and the Luce D'or being exceptional.) In fairness we didn't go to any talks or concerts, which I know is also a big draw of the hotel. I suspect in general this is a better summer hotel than a winter hotel. We were hit by a lot snow and icy rain so it made some of the outdoor activities more difficult. A lot of the hiking trails were ungroomed or too deep to pass. And for a mountain resort they were surprisingly unprepared to clear the roads. And then of course there is the strange toll you have to pay to get to the hotel. You would think they'd make a deal or have some kind of pass, it's 4 euro, not a big deal just strange. The spa was great (if you can get an appointment. It was very difficult to find times, and equally difficult to find the check in to the spa. Which is up three flights of stairs down a long hall. I think a large majority of my disappointment was some outsized expectations. Perhaps the Retreat is different... but I wouldn't call this a luxury hotel. In some ways it reminded me of Mohunk Mountain House with better food. A beautiful looking hotel, in a beautiful location. I don't plan on returning to either.
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Last edited by cjthekid; Jan 7, 19 at 3:21 pm
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Old Jan 7, 19, 5:08 pm
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I finally gave up on the MO in Munich and the Charles became my regular (although I am not in Munich that often). I just got tired of the "we are snottier than you" attitude at the MO and their unwillingness to grant the slight exception to anything they deemed to be a rule, even if it wasn't actually a rule. The folks at the Charles always are accommodating and often guarantee clients of Virtuoso agents an upgrade at time of booking if the hotel is not too full.
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Old Jan 8, 19, 5:02 am
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I think you did the right decision. I feel the same about Munich like RichardInSF and normally stay at the Charles. In Salzburg I stayed recently at Sacher which was nothing special. While the location of Mönchstein is a little remote I don´t think you would have had a better stay at the Sacher, more the opposite. Personally I never stayed at Schloss Elmau but a colleague did. He reported similar problems. Service not good things like concerts you pay but probably don´t use. He had as other here the opinion if you stay you must choose the retreat to have a decent experience.
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Old Jan 13, 19, 1:08 pm
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Originally Posted by RichardInSF View Post
I finally gave up on the MO in Munich and the Charles became my regular (although I am not in Munich that often). I just got tired of the "we are snottier than you" attitude at the MO and their unwillingness to grant the slight exception to anything they deemed to be a rule, even if it wasn't actually a rule. The folks at the Charles always are accommodating and often guarantee clients of Virtuoso agents an upgrade at time of booking if the hotel is not too full.
Finally someone tells it like it is... this has to be one of the worst MOs in this regard, as all other properties I know are quite a bit more humble. I haven't been back yet, so cannot really say if it got better but I guess only Amanda would be able to change the culture there. I wonder if she will, London is a lot of work with renovations after fire and Prague is also a work in progress.

Also not surprised about Schloss Elmau. Incidentally, The Fontenay in Hamburg hired a few people from Schloss Elmau and they are usually the ones standing out (for doing nothing).
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