The springs at Baden-Baden were known to the Romans as Aquae (‘the waters’) but Baden, the original name of the town, derives from an earlier plural form of Bad . The name Baden-Baden is a reference to the Margraviate of Baden (1535–1771), a territory named after the town.
Baden-Baden thus means the town of Baden in the territory of Baden. Roman settlement at Baden-Baden has been dated as far back as the Emperor Hadrian The known ruins of the Roman bath were rediscovered just below the New Castle in 1847and date to the reign of Caracalla (ad 210s). Baden-Baden got its formal name in 1931.
Beyond its astonishing history the remains of which are beautifully preserved to this day, Baden Baden has earned a unique multi-faceted reputation as a wellness, cultural and entertainment destination. But what is most impressive is how the town has earned and maintained its desirability for both Germans and visitors from all over the world.
For me, Baden Baden has always been a unique destination which makes time stand still and, in a way, makes one pause and reflect. The serenity of the town, its nature and its attractions make one detach and disconnect, a luxury experience that is sometimes impossible to achieve.
At the centre of Baden Baden is the iconic Brenners Park Hotel & Spa, a luxury hospitality institution which is a revered and respected symbol of the town. Since it opened in 1872, no other luxury hotel of its calibre opened in Baden Baden, Brenners Park Hotel becoming synonymous with Baden Baden.
Since it opened, it hosted royalty, celebrities, artists and business leaders. Its complex offering can be at the same time an ideal retreat for guests who travel alone but also couples and families, including children (and their pets) but also for groups, whether they have a business event purpose, a conference (hotel hosted summit meetings with the highest ranked dignitaries) or a group attending a wedding or any other special occasion.
The urban luxury resort boasts classic accommodations, which despite the lack of recent renovations, are impeccably maintained – the all marble bathrooms, the heavenly comfortable beds are just some of the highlights that will make you feel at home from the moment you step in. It is worth every penny upgrading for a park view room and, ideally, a room or suite with balcony.
Whether you are a new guest or a returning one, the exact same standards of personalised customer service is extended. Although the team members are very well informed on the status of all guests, you will not feel that there is a guest that receives more attention. This is a huge achievement for a top luxury hotel demonstrating the exceptional training standards of the staff.
I was impressed how the staff pay so much attention to each and every guest so that they are able to engage in the most natural and genuine way. I could not be more pleasantly surprised at each interaction with staff, for instance at breakfast, asking about my town visit or a specific tour I took the previous day. Staff remembering preferences, for instance in terms of dining, but not only, have become natural.
Mention must also be made about the fact that true luxury is also about confidence – whether it is the housekeeper who beautifully wraps up clothing items that may have been dropped to the floor, or the waiter who confidently says that he or she can recommend a dish ‘you will surely’ like – thus making one feel ‘in good hands’. It also makes guests feel that staff gestures are effortless and genuine. This is just one of the strengths of luxury hotel groups such as Oetker Collection.
The Spa and wellness offering has been conceived as a true enclave, when the hotel restored a stunning mansion-like building adjacent to the hotel, into Villa Stephanie, a sanctuary which, beyond the ultimate Spa / beauty / wellness, also offers a medical approach geared towards prevention.
With its very own kitchen and specialised Chef, Villa Stephanie also boasts 15 rooms and suites of the finest luxury standards – ultimate soundproofing, both indoors and outdoors, custom made beds, ultra-luxury furnishings (including furniture pieces by top luxury brans such as Poltrona Frau) organic bathroom amenities and most impressive, a digital detox option which can be activated at the touch of a button – turning off all electronic waves, including wi-fi, mobile phone etc.
At the time of my stay, most of the guests staying at Villa Stephanie opted for one of the detox programs, without, however, making them feel it was an unpleasant effort. Guests gather in the luxurious lounge of the Villa which is conceived as an exquisite living room and discreetly, a waiter would serve them the dish that the dedicated Chef prepared as per instructions of the nutritionist.
Yet, the versatility and uniqueness of Brenners Park Hotel also lies in the most simple things – taking a stroll along the park (the hotel is located right on the park) or simply lounging on a fresh cut lawn and gaze at the passers by – can turn into memories that last forever. The Black Forest and mountains that surround Baden Baden will not only leave you with a visual memory, but also something untouchable, which is the fresh air.
Make sure you do not miss the newly opened Fritz & Felix dining venue which features a unique concept (including a show kitchen) with simple dishes. The hotel can also organise chauffeur driven tours of surroundings and within a one hour radius, you will be impressed with the vineyards and historical landmarks. You may also opt for a unique dining option such as a picnic.
There is room for improvement: the renovation of the swimming pool area, replacing the existing Tv sets and bathroom amenities (in Villa Stephanie, there are already organic based amenities). In such resort-like hotels, guests tend to flock to breakfast at the same time – it happened on a few occasion but service was still of a high standard, yet the staff could feel the pressure.
This kind of overcrowding could also be achieved by motivating / inviting guests to order more in-room dining. Some top luxury hotels, when running full occupancy, even offer perks for in-room dining – either a big bouquet of flowers, champagne or truffles in a regular omelette.
Exceptional activities also include classical music at the iconic Opera – internationally famed performers who grace the Baden Baden Opera (Placido Domingo was concerting during my stay), a thermal bath experience at one of the flawlessly preserved Roman baths, an energised night at the casino of the city (more than just gambling)or a shopping spree at many of the city’s luxury branded stores (the hotel’s Eden Being concept store is a must!)
But most likely the Christmas market and celebrations are the yearly highlight of the city. Overall, regardless of any purposes, one can only feel privileged to experience such as unique hotel.
Oliver Petcu in Baden Baden
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