The Black Forest Highlands in Germany have long held our imagination as a mystical location hiding magical creatures both friend and foe. I’m thrilled to share with you my experiences within the Black Forest offering alluring service, enchanting people, and enough activities to ensure your loved ones return spellbound with stories to share for years to come. Also, well-known for its namesake cake, cuckoo clocks, and magnificent trees, I found myself amazed at the level of luxury and private experiences available to those who venture into the woods.
Every vacation is anchored by the hotel experience and matching the right property to your personal preference is as important as the activities planned. My stay in Suite 10 of the Parkhotel Adler in Hinterzarten set the stage for this tale, in a most exceptional way. This family owned, award-winning hotel was first established in 1446 and is still being operated by the same family today. I enjoyed a welcome dinner with Ms. Katja Newman, the 16th generation owner and manager of this beautiful property. Dignitaries and Royalty such as the Crown Prince of Dubai and the King of Belgium have enjoyed this unassuming treasure as well as celebrities including Tina Turner and Lenny Kravitz. The service, accommodations, and cuisine as overseen by Chef Bernhard König are all exceptional and will exceed your expectations whether traveling alone, as a couple, family, or group. I was traveling solo for this trip, though I never felt lonely.
My exploration of the Black Forest was ready to begin so my guide picked me up and we enjoyed a quick scenic drive through the forest to Rothaus Brewery, we are in Germany after all. Through an interactive private tour, I learned the art of brewing beer in the Black Forest, which has been cultivated since 1791. I witnessed their methods for utilizing the pure, natural spring waters on site and how they recycle, reuse, and stay green to keep the forest as pristine as possible. Of course, we ended the tour in the onsite restaurant where we sampled the beer with my first taste of true Black Forest Cake.
After a gourmet breakfast at the Parkhotel Adler, my private guide took me to visit the waterfalls of Menzenschwand. The sky was blue, the clouds were fluffy, and the snow had fallen a few days earlier, perfectly displaying the forest as though it were a living postcard. We walked up to the waterfalls, never too far from a coffee & cake shop, then lingered to connect with nature as we silently disconnected from the rest of the world. Once the chill finally reached my toes, we drove to enjoy lunch at boutique hotel Alemannenhof, overlooking Lake Titisee, a famous year-round gathering point for all local activity. There’s nothing like a pot of tea and fresh käsespätzle to warm you from the inside out.
In the evening, we walked to the center of Hinterzarten, joining a group for an evening hike through the forest by torchlight to the Ravenna Christmas Market, the most unique Christmas Market in all of Germany. We held our torches safely, stopping occasionally to sing a Christmas carol in German (they provided a printed sheet with the words), or to hear a traditional Black Forest folk tale featuring creatures of the forest learning the true meaning of Christmas. We reached the Ravenna Christmas Market just as my torch burned out and entered through Hofgut Sternen, the Black Forest Village, to see children ice skating, watch an entire building operate as an animated cuckoo clock, then walked down into the ravine under the viaduct to enjoy the market and my new favorite white glühwein with whipped crème. After shopping for presents, it was time to explore the rest of Hofgut Sternen, which offers glass-blowing demonstrations by local artisans, teaches the craft of cuckoo clocks, then I watched an entertaining showcase by the pastry chef on how to properly build a Black Forest Cake. To be called a true Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, German law requires the recipe to include a special ingredient; Kirschwasser, a strong spirit made from distilled cherries. I was happily sent away with two small bottles to ensure I could properly duplicate the effort once home in Tennessee. My village host, Petra Lentes, took me behind the scenes to see how they reuse only fallen trees from the forest and water reclamation to provide power to the entire village. This small-town area, still has the best of German engineering to protect its natural resources.
A trip to Germany is never complete without treating yourself to a personalized wellness experience, this is where the true magic happens. The Wellness Pavilion at the Parkhotel Adler provides an entire body experience beyond a massage and facial. They carry the finest skincare products, BABOR, but also have an indoor pool, outdoor heated pool, jacuzzis, and various saunas including one earth and fire sauna, a Roman steam room, mood showers, Kneipp basins, and a relaxation lounge. Ninety-minutes with the wellness manager, Roland Hoffman, began with his questions about my stress and pain. The session ended with not only all my muscles completely relaxed, but he taught me special stretches to aid in reducing jaw clenching when I sleep. I left the spa looking and feeling ten years younger, then decided to finish the evening with a moonlit stroll around the hotel park property in an attempt to hold onto this magical feeling as long as possible.
There isn’t enough space here to share details of skiing, sledding, cathedrals, clock museums, shops, or the world-famous Rothaus Brewery private tour I experienced. I haven’t even touched upon the outdoor activities available during the warmer months on and near Lake Titisee such as golf, biking, hiking, and boating all easily accessible via a one hour drive north from Zurich, Switzerland or two hours south of Stuttgart, Germany.
I would love to have one of our travel advisors help you plan your own magical escape to the Highlands of Germany’s Black Forest. You’ll come home transformed, renewed, and with a mystical tale of your own.
Special thank you to the Hoch Schwarzwald Tourism Board for hosting me during this magical experience.