Time of year: Early February, 2019
Purpose of trip: This was one of seven planned stops on our winter rail tour of Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Austria.
Why we chose this place: To be honest, we knew little about the South West German spa town of Baden-Baden, but were persuaded to change our itinerary to include it, by enthusiastic tourism staff at a major travel fair. The Hotel am Sophienpark is a historic and elegant 4 star hotel is centrally placed, with many attractions an easy stroll away.
How long we stayed: One night.
Our accommodation: A large and comfortable ‘business’ double room on the Boulevard side of the hotel, with super-king sized bed, small table and comfortable chairs and full length windows with Juliet balconies, overlooking the elegant street below. The en-suite bathroom was large and beautifully finished, with a full sized bath and shower above it. The decor was contemporary and tasteful with a fresh green, white and grey theme. While there was no access in the room to a kettle with tea and coffee sachets, guests were invited to make free use of excellent coffee and a range of herbal teas, along with biscuits and cakes, in the lobby area. Although there is a lift at the hotel, one of its outstanding features is a stunning, sweeping staircase which gives a spacious, galleried landing effect.
Service: Exceptionally polite, professional and helpful, with staff speaking excellent English.
Location: In the heart of the spa town of Baden-Baden, which lies within the Black Forest area of south western Germany. The Hotel am Sophienpark backs on to beautiful gardens and is close to the old part of town, while still only a short bus ride from the train station.
Food: The hotel offers a breakfast service, not dinner–but there are a good range of eateries nearby. Our buffet style breakfast was in traditional local style, offering a varied selection of cold meats and cheeses, yoghurt, muesli and fruit and pastries.
What we paid: We were the guests of the Baden-Baden Tourism Office, but a similar room in mid February is likely to cost around £151 per night, per room, including breakfast.
Activities close by: Baden-Baden is proud of its reputation as an attractive spa town, offering a range of treatments–from a soap brush massage at the traditional Friedrichsbad to a warming soak or steam treatment at the popular Caracalla Spa, with thermal waters from twelve springs, 2,000 metres under the earth, pushing out around 800,000 litres a day. Film, theatre, music, art and a lively and lavish casino offer more entertainment options, plus international horse racing at Baden-Baden’s Iffezheim course, and plenty of golf courses within reach.
What empty nesters might really like about this place: The hotel itself feels comfortable and elegant, and the clean and classy town is ideal for a weekend or midweek break with leisurely pursuits close at hand. You can reach the town by train as part of a wider rail tour as we did, or hire a car and explore the stunning landscape nearby.
What empty nesters might not be so keen on: Spa-wise, there’s plenty on offer, but be prepared for some busy sessions at the large, circular Caracalla Spa–the waters felt great, but it was quite busy the day we visited. And–this may be a plus or a minus for you–some sessions at Friedrichsbad are mixed–and, as they quaintly describe it, ‘garment-free’.
In the interest of disclosure, we received one night’s stay at the Hotel am Sophienpark on the promise of writing a review. If we had had criticisms about any aspect of the accommodation or the service, we would have written about it. For more on our disclosure policy, read here.