A Review of Castle Hotel ~Schloss Hirschhorn in Germany
By Debi Lander
Legend asserts that Friedrich, last Knight of Hirschhorn, died from a curse.
Whether folktale or truth; his order erected a mountaintop stronghold in 1203, adding living quarters, moat, church and town wall over centuries. As guardians, they protected the surrounding countryside through devastating wars. After the plague in 1635, few remained. But their stone structures still stand.
Now as a four-star hotel, the knights’ castle of Hirschhorn, Germany beckons from its forested peak. Below, a village of crimson-roofed buildings lies packed against the quay of the swift Neckar River. The churning waterway swerves through the glen in storybook fashion, disappearing into the distant horizon.
Enter the main fortress, where upstairs, eight guestrooms blossom with red and blue chintz curtains and matching bedspreads. One suite offers an elevated seating area with bow windows overlooking nature’s panorama. Modern bathrooms are surprisingly roomy and an elevator, just big enough for one person and their bags, makes luggage handling easier. Unfortunately, no gallant knights or bellman here.
Hotel guests sit at (what else) round tables on the sun-drenched terrace, listening to the splashing sounds rising from the river. They sip Rhine wine, nibble German pastries and watch the laden barges pass through busy locks.
Meander a musty English garden pathway to 17 additional bedchambers in the Marstall, a renovated old stable. Further down the embankment, dotted by crumbling curtain walls, visitors can explore a 1406 Gothic church. In the cemetery discover some headstones belonging to knights of yore. Only drawback is the steep trek back to the main complex.
Schloss Hirschhorn’s restaurant serves unexpected and memorable delights fit for royalty; delicate flaky fish with gorgeous fresh vegetables. Game is the dining room specialty, when in season. And don’t miss the local Riesling wine, a tasty bargain.
Fact is old Freidrich killed his cousin (Hans of Handschushsheim) in a duel, which provoked his aunt to cast the spell. They say when Friedrich died in 1632, so did the 400-year reign of the Hirschhorn Knights.
But their chivalrous presence lingers in this old castle, on the hill. Spend a knight and don’t worry about curses; Freidrich’s Aunt is long past.
If you go:
Schloss Hirschhorn sits above the town of Hirschhorn, in southwest Germany, just 12 miles from Heidelberg. Guests driving a compact car may brave the winding narrow road. Larger vehicles should take the longer, circuitous route through the park.
Request a room in the main building for a night you won’t forget.
Hotel rates are kind-hearted on a traveler’s bill-of-fare. Double rooms around $150 and singles less than $100.
For further information: www.schlosshotel-hirschhorn.de
A shorter version of this article appeared in Travel Post Monthly, October 2007.