A Grand Bavarian Fairytale
Schloss Elmau, Germany

It’s the ultimate off-grid paradise, set against the stunning Wetterstein mountains near Austria. The heavenly beds, world-class health facilities, enticing line up of restaurants and incredible location make Schloss Elmau the perfect escape for well-to-do families and exhausted executives looking for pampering.

The Schloss also offers something that cannot be manufactured or replicated: generations of European artists and intellectuals whose spirits wander the corridors.

Opened by best selling author, philosopher and self-styled theologian Johannes Müller in 1916 as a personal cultured sanctuary. He would invite guests and friends to put aside their egos and inhibitions and partake in the innovative mental and physical detox programs he curated for them. All whilst soaking up the fresh mountain air. He was ahead of his time but would quickly spread word about the Schloss as a unique getaway and subsequently attracted the elite of Europe including royalty, politicians, artists and industrialists.

The Concert Hall hosts as many as 200 Classical Music & Jazz Concerts each year

Today it is run by Müller’s grandson and maintains it’s reputation as one of the world’s best cultural retreats. At the heart of the property is a 300-seat concert hall, a library and one of Germany’s best stocked bookstores. Philosophers, musicians and artists including Benjamin Britten, Rufus Wainright and The Amadeus Quartet have flocked to perform and host lectures at the intimate venue. They come as guests; invited to enjoy the hotel and its idyllic setting and facilities. It is not uncommon to strike up a conversation about last night’s triumphant concert with the artist themselves, whilst soaking in one of the property’s six heated pools. It is a convivial atmosphere where performers and their audience can co-mingle without any feeling of inhibition.

Elmau is a well-oiled luxury machine and considered one of the world’s 100 best hotels. The staff are incredibly well trained without being homogenized. No wonder the property has played host to the G7 summit not once, but twice. And rightly so, the castle retreat is all about privacy and indulgence.

Just like the G7 leaders, you can also try nordic hiking with Olympians through the Bavarian countryside, passing rolling fields, swan lakes and secret caves. Rewarded with the architectural wonder that is King Ludwig II’s palace, Neuschwanstein Castle, as it rises out of the hillside.

There’s also a programme of literary discussions and yoga and mindfulness retreats through the year – all reinforcing the idea that this is a thinking person’s wellness retreat.

A hike with endless views of the Alps

The hotel underwent an enormous renovation in 2005 after a fire destroyed almost two thirds of the property. The owners saw it as an opportunity to modernize the historical hotel and focus on expanding the bedrooms and optimizing the spa, medical wing and ‘Badehaus’ a fabulously old school spa with endless saunas, steam baths and an oriental hammam (some say the most glamorous west of Istanbul). But while therapists excel at detoxifying, draining and pummelling you back to peak health, you should be contemplating which of the ten on-site restaurants to enjoy your next meal at; delectable Italian with jaw-dropping mountain views at Summit, Sushi and Asian fusion at Fidelio, 2 Michelin star cuisine at Luce D’Oro or cosy alpine classics at Alm-Hutte.

Over a century after Johannes Müller promised his first visitors a “holiday from the self”, Schloss Elmau still bewitches guests by allowing them to luxuriate in life, and themselves.

View of the Elmau valley and Bavarian Alps
Stay healthy with daily yoga classes in the studio that plays host to numerous Yoga Retreats and an Annual Yoga Summit
View of the Elmau valley and Bavarian Alps
Stay healthy with daily yoga classes in the studio that plays host to numerous Yoga Retreats and an Annual Yoga Summit