While fairly new to the official #DoTheDaniel family, I have been a long time friend of it’s founder and his outlook for living life with verve and sharing adventure with the world. With the #DoTheDaniel fam expanding it seemed only fair for the topics we cover to stretch to new corners of the world. There was only one place that fit the bill for this month’s post, the Hotel Lafer in Stromberg, Germany. I had the pleasure of staying at the historic castle late last summer (my first ever press trip!) and share some packing essentials. The one thing I hadn’t yet covered was the amazing Michelin-starred food I ate there, or the wonderful sights and super-luxe accommodations.
Having visited Berlin many times, I was surprised to find just how different Stromberg and Frankfurt were from the capital city. I landed in Frankfurt and after a thirty-minute drive through rolling green hills, vineyards and flower patches arrived at the Hotel Lafer Stromberg. The hotel, restaurant and cooking school are both the highlight of the town and home of it’s eponymous Johann Lafer, a famous Austrian chef. His smiling facade is everywhere as you drive through Stromberg. From banners lining the streets to the welcome sign, I knew I was in good hands.
The hotel is set in a historic castle amongst panoramic views of green hills, heritage sites and the town far below. The Lafer Stromberg belongs to the prestigious Relais & Chateaux group with unique hotels dotted around 62 countries each offering a luxury experience with the ethos of ‘living well.’
Live well I did, from the moment I checked in to my first suite (each was named after a famous chef)! In order to get the full experience of this unique property, I was moved 3 times during my 5 day stay – each time I’d return to find my belongings had been artfully transported just as I’d left them in the room before. And each time there was a new fruit sculpture underneath a glass dome bell jar. I’ll admit that until the maid asked why I hadn’t eaten it, I didn’t even realize it was edible. My journey through the hotel’s unique rooms culminated at the top of the turret of the grand suite. Spread across 2 floors and with the ability to sleep an entire family.
The hotel offers all the amenities one could imagine from golf courses to a wine cellar and garden restaurant (offering local and Austrian fare in a casual setting), to some that are more out of this world! Like the option to take one of the on-site helicopters up to the mountain and have Chef Lafer cook for two.
But choppers aside the centrepiece here is the Michelin starred Val D’or or ‘Gold Table’. Cited as a restaurant for the seasons, it features a menu, decor and acoustics which change whether it’s winter, fall, spring or summer. I was lucky to visit in Summer, but imagine it’s worth a visit regardless of the time of year as they work with local seasonal ingredients presented in an artful way.
Always one to go big or go home, I opted for the 10-course tasting menu, which ended up being more like 13 as the staff was so friendly! The menu is full of unusual but artful pairings; think chocolate with savoury as a starter or an octopus and radish consume (cut into hearts, clubs and spades) before the main meal. My palette has never been more stimulated – and I lost track after the fourth main! There was char with watermelon, caviar and peas and lamb served with roasted pineapple and aubergine. Besides the beef (obviously!) one of the standouts for me was the lemon basil and handmade parmesan pasta, so simply yet so satisfying! The marriage of sour lemon with fresh basil and cheese over soft noodles was perfect!
Food and drink aside, it was truly a sense of community at the hotel, the Lafer’s are truly passionate about food and present, and this is present in their staff. As each course came, I’m not sure who was more excited! Their desire to share and educate us in the culinary delights shone through. And this sense of community spread well past the group of bloggers I was travelling with, as often isn’t the case! While researching the hotel I read an amazing TripAdvisor in which one of the desk clerks, had mistakenly booked a dinner for two on a night the restaurant was closed. When the couple turned up, and were greeted in broken in English to find the restaurant closed, they turned to leave disappointed. Until Mrs Lafer, (the wife of Johann Lafer and hotel manager) informed them that despite the restaurant being closed on this particular day they would honour the reservation and they would be their special guest. They offered the couple the same tour of the restaurant that we received and catered to the two of them the entire night. Both trip advisor and I obviously left them with a 5-star rating!
While off the beaten path, I highly recommend venturing outside of the main city and checking out Hotel Lafer on your next visit to Germany. If not to spend the night, then to try exquisite food pairings at the Val D’or!
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