Review: Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden

Introduction: 20,000+ Kilometers In Three Days
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Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden
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Qatar Airways 787 Business Class Doha to Hong Kong


The Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden opened in 2005 and was managed by InterContinental for ten years, before being acquired by Kempinski. I had heard many good things about the hotel, so I was incredibly excited to have the opportunity to check it out for myself. The Kempinski can be seen from the Eagle’s Nest, and is shaped like somewhat of a horseshoe.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Exterior

Even from below, the Kempinski looks stunning from the outside. It took about 15 minutes of driving up a slope from the main highway before we reached the hotel.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Exterior

The entryway is lined up with flags, as is true with most “destination” hotels around the world.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Exterior

I stepped into the stunning lobby, which effused forest-themed elegance, with a fireplace in the middle as well as wood and stone finishes all around. Here’s an aerial view:

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Lobby

The centerpiece of the lobby area was a table with warm, almost Christmas-themed decorations and ornaments, before a separate “fireplace” area which seemed to act as the lobby lounge.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Lobby

To the right were stairs that brought you straight up to the lounge on the second floor, which I’ll talk about in a bit.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Lobby

There was an alcove that housed a library of sorts, which people used as a sitting area.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Lobby

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Library

We quickly checked in under the help of our driver Henry, and were escorted to our Panorama Suite on the third floor of the hotel. Our room was located on one of the corners of the “horseshoe”, close by the lift – there are three sets of lifts by the hotel.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Floorplan

The hallways themselves were curved, as you’d expect with the hotel’s shape. I loved the warm wooden finishes that carried on throughout the hotel.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Hallway

We were assigned room 300, and I was surprised to find that our suite was “named”.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Panorama Suite Entrance

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden
Check-in: Friday, July 21, 2017
Room Type: Panorama Suite
Room Number: 300
Stay duration: 3 nights
Check-out: Monday, July 24, 2017

The hotel featured a massive entryway, fit for putting shoes, open luggage, etc.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Panorama Suite Entryway

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Panorama Suite Entryway

The living room was located at the end of the entryway, and featured a sitting area, a TV and a desk and chair. In our case we needed two rollaways for myself and my father, so those were placed in the living room as well.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Panorama Suite Living Room

While the room may look slightly dated from the pictures, I loved the colour tones, including the amount of natural light (which can’t be seen above as the shades were closed).

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Panorama Suite Living Room

At the corner was a desk. Due to the presence of the sofa I never ended up actually using it, as my sister was more keen on using a desk (and she had paperwork, while all my work was on my laptop). The chair was comfortable, though, and the desk was a good size – my sister also liked that it faced the view.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Panorama Suite Living Room Desk

Adjacent to both the entryway and the living room was a bedroom, which featured a chair, as well as a comfortable king-sized bed.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Panorama Suite Bedroom

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Panorama Suite Bedroom

Between the living room and the bedroom there was also a bathroom, which was a great size. It featured double sinks (one on each side of the bathtub), an enclosed toilet, and a separate tub and shower.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Panorama Suite Bathroom

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Panorama Suite Bathroom Sink

I don’t get why bathrooms with separate showers have a shower in the tub as well…is it just me? It’s even weirder since the tub isn’t “partitioned” from the rest of the bathroom, so anyone who used the shower in the tub would end up spraying the water across the bathroom.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Panorama Suite Bathroom Tub

The walk-in shower featured both a handheld and a rainforest shower head, neither of which had amazing water pressure.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Panorama Suite Bathroom Shower

The bathroom featured both Elemental Herbology and Diptyque toiletries. I enjoyed both amenities, and kept the Diptyque toiletries to myself, as they came in handy bottles.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Panorama Suite Bathroom Amenities

There are also comfortable bathrobes, though I never used them.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Panorama Suite Bathroom Robes

In addition, there were also two Bavarian rubber ducks – what a cute touch that complemented the hotel’s vibrant setting!

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Panorama Suite Bathroom Ducks

Present across all three rooms was a focus on offering natural light. While there wasn’t a true balcony, you could open the windows in the living room fully, where there was fencing, so the living room could act as its own balcony of sorts. It’s a shame, since the weather was cloudy most of the time, so we couldn’t take full advantage of the truly panoramic view that the suite offered.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Panorama Suite View

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Panorama Suite View

Sometimes (particularly at 6 AM one morning) the weather would be exceptional, where the views were best.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Panorama Suite View

We also enjoyed a great sunset from the suite one day (unfortunately my mother’s phone died on her that night, and my focus was fixing it, so I didn’t have time to take a photo that captured the true beauty of the sunset).

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Panorama Suite View

The hotel gave us a few amenities, most of which were located on the table. I found Hailey’s “kids package” a nice touch, featuring some kind of candy, colouring sets, and gummy bears, as well as an indication that there was a “kids’ club” on the basement.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Panorama Suite Children’s Set

There was also fruit (does anyone ever touch fruit on display at a hotel?).

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Panorama Suite Fruit

Furthermore, there were delicious petit fours that were on display on the table, which we helped ourselves to.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Panorama Suite Sweets

By the TV was a minibar, which featured refrigerated soft drinks, wine as well as various spirits. Unfortunately, apart from the water nothing was free.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Panorama Suite Minibar

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Panorama Suite Minibar

Overall I thought the suite was really nicely appointed, and perfect for our three-night stay – in fact, I would’ve wanted to stay for longer, especially if the weather was nicer (and imagine if it was snowing outside – stunning!).

WiFi at the room came in two packages – there was “standard” WiFi for free, and “premium” WiFi for 9 EUR per night. Since we all wanted to work and the “premium” WiFi was given for five devices, we collectively decided that the “premium” WiFi was well worth the premium for our three-night stay, and subsequently decided to use it.

We originally selected the standard internet, which was rather slow, though our first night was a slow night in general for hotel WiFi. The concierge gave us a “disconnect” code that we could enter into our URL bar in order to return to the WiFi login page so we could purchase high-speed WiFi, which was also rather dodgy on the first night, though improved throughout our stay.

In terms of the hotel’s amenities, I’ll start with Restaurant Johann Grill, which is where we had breakfast each morning, as well as dinner on two of our three nights at Berchtesgaden. The restaurant itself is nice enough, with wooden finishes and plenty of natural light.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Restaurant Johann Grill

The breakfast spread was amazing on many levels, from the overall presentation of the spread, to the variety, to the quality of each individual item.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Restaurant Johann Grill Breakfast Spread

I was so impressed that the regional/wood and stone finishes carried on to the presentation of the spread – what attention to detail!

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Restaurant Johann Grill Breakfast Spread

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Restaurant Johann Grill Breakfast Spread

The spread itself consisted of many varieties of muesli, cereal, etc., hot plates, cold cuts, various types of bread, as well as a few dishes that were made special daily.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Restaurant Johann Grill Breakfast Spread

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Restaurant Johann Grill Breakfast Spread

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Restaurant Johann Grill Breakfast Spread

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Restaurant Johann Grill Breakfast Spread

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Restaurant Johann Grill Breakfast Spread

 

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Restaurant Johann Grill Breakfast Spread

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Restaurant Johann Grill Breakfast Spread

There was also fresh juice, which I really appreciated.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Restaurant Johann Grill Breakfast Spread

In addition to that, there was a coffee cart, though you can order at your table.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Restaurant Johann Grill Breakfast Spread

In terms of the “special” dishes, I had panna cotta with berry coulis one morning, which was exceptional – the coulis cut through the richness of the panna cotta, and the nuts added a nice crunch.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Restaurant Johann Grill Breakfast Spread Panna Cotta

On the latter two mornings I treated myself with a latte macchiato, which was great, from the presentation to the taste. My mother’s cappuccino was great as well both mornings.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Restaurant Johann Grill Breakfast Latte Macchiato

The hotel also has a special menu with various egg dishes. On the second morning I ordered the Berchtesgaden eggs benedict, which was really tasty. My mother ordered the same thing, though, and the hollandaise had too much vinegar for her liking.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Restaurant Johann Grill Breakfast Berchtesgaden Eggs Benedict

On the third and final morning I ordered the normal eggs benedict, which was a little undercooked (you can see slightly runny egg white in the picture below – as tasty as that is, poached eggs should come with a firmer egg white), though tasty nonetheless.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Restaurant Johann Grill Breakfast Spread Eggs Benedict

We arrived late on the first night and were really tired on the second night, so we had dinner at the restaurant both nights. The first night we decided to go all out, and followed most of the recommendations that our server had for us. Everything was delicious that night.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Restaurant Johann Grill Dinner Steak Tartare

Highlights included an aged tomahawk steak, which wasn’t the most flavourful steak I’ve had in my life, though in terms of (non-Bavarian) restaurant dining in the middle of Bavaria, the steak was exceptional.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Restaurant Johann Grill Dinner Tomahawk Steak

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Restaurant Johann Grill Dinner Tomahawk Steak

The mashed potatoes were some of the best I’ve had anywhere in my life, rivalling Joel Robuchon’s famous mashed potatoes which I’d tasted in Paris. They were some of the fluffiest and most flavourful mashed potatoes I’ve had anywhere.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Restaurant Johann Grill Dinner Mashed Potatoes

On the first night I also had the guinea fowl breast, which was beautifully presented and beautifully seasoned.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Restaurant Johann Grill Dinner Guinea Fowl Breast

On the second night I decided to switch things up and order the pike perch, which was also incredibly flavourful, if not slightly sloppy in terms of the presentation.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Restaurant Johann Grill Dinner Pike Perch

My dad had the rack of lamb on the second night, which he enjoyed – it was cooked to a perfect medium rare.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Restaurant Johann Grill Dinner Rack of Lamb

Service at the restaurant was great – bar the second night. We were served by an attendant in training, and it clearly showed. His English wasn’t great, which isn’t a problem (I don’t speak any German either), though we were clearly pointing out each item on the menu that we wanted, and he still messed up every single one of our orders. As much as we felt sorry for him, I believe he was the only server we had out of our nine days, and many meals, in Germany that my father decided not to tip.

I can say the same thing about everyone else at the hotel – everyone was so willing to help (yes, including the guy mentioned above – it’s just that he wasn’t able to). Service culture in Germany impressed me in general, and the employees at this hotel were no exception.

The hotel doesn’t have a designated club lounge, but rather has a “lounge” of sorts that all people can access. It was empty for most of the time, though it was so sparsely furnished that I didn’t see any value in spending time there.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Lounge

There were a few special decorations at the lounge that I liked, which also complemented the “wood and stone” design concept of the hotel.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Lounge

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Lounge

Furthermore, there were also nice views of the lobby (and the lounge is where I got the aerial picture of the lobby at the beginning of this review).

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Lounge View

Due to how the hotel is positioned on a mountain, there’s a partial “0th floor” which acts partially as a basement and partially as a ground-level floor. The entire “spa” area is on the floor, and I ended up using the gym facility for the latter two nights. The gym was fine – it wasn’t too sparsely furnished, though I’d expect slightly more for such a highly-esteemed hotel, especially in terms of machines. The machines also had weights completely different to what I was used to, so it took a while to adjust my workout sessions.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Gym

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Gym

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Gym

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Gym

On the plus side, there were tissues (phew – I still hadn’t recovered from the cold that I’d caught back home) and cold towels, so the gym was well-stocked in that regard.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Gym

The spa also featured an indoor and an outdoor pool. The outdoor pool was heated, whilst the indoor pool wasn’t. Unfortunately I was never there alone, so couldn’t grab great pictures during my stay. I did grab a picture of the outdoor pool as seen from the Eagle’s Nest, though, so will include that below.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Pool

In terms of where the hotel is located, it’s about a five-minute walk from the bus stop that takes you to the Eagle’s Nest. Unfortunately everything else requires somewhat of a drive (or a long walk), including Königssee, the town of Berchtesgaden, etc.. There are a few hiking trails that are visible from Restaurant Johann Grill, as well as the road up to the hotel. Apart from a walk around the hotel, I never actually partook in any of the hiking trails, though I would’ve done so if I’d had a longer stay here.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Walking Trail

Outside Restaurant Johann Grill I found an outdoor children’s playground, as well as a barbecue pit, which leisure travelers with more than a week on their hands on the property would probably enjoy.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Children’s Playground

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Barbecue Pit

Finally, there’s also a kids’ room, which I found to be really well stocked. Hailey never spent any time here due to our packed schedule at Berchtesgaden, though it seemed like somewhere she’d like to spend some time in if we’d had longer.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Kids’ Room

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Kids’ Room

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Kids’ Room

It’s also worth noting that the hotel’s also a target for regional “special events”. There was a car display onsite which prevented Henry from driving into the entryway one night, which wasn’t a problem with us, though I could imagine older residents at the hotel would be annoyed.

Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden Sports Car Event

I know there’s a lot I haven’t said about Berchtesgaden, though I’ll cover that in a separate installment.

Bottom Line: Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden

Berchtesgaden is a place that you wouldn’t be bored in if you had a week to spend or more. We stayed in Berchtesgaden for three nights, and I’m dying to return to the Eagle’s Nest, do a few more hiking trails, watch the sunrise from the hotel, etc.. There’s just so much to do, and I didn’t end up having the time I’d liked (or the physical ability, as I was sick most of the time).

I’d say that if you can splurge, the Hotel Kempinski is the place to stay if you’re staying in Berchtesgaden. It’s part of the experience of staying here, especially with how it blends into the local area. I do wish this hotel was still part of InterContinental, where it’d seem more likely for me to return on my own buck, due to loyalty programmes and whatnot. I do get that Hotel Kempinski is more of a European brand which catered to most of the people staying at the hotel, so I respect that.

Regardless, during the low season I’ve seen rates as low as HK$1,600 at this hotel (which isn’t that expensive considering it’s a luxury hotel in the middle of nowhere), so I’d definitely return given the chance.

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