Personal preference is a funny thing. What makes one hotel beat expectations, and another perfectly fine establishment, not quite make the grade?
Recently, my husband and I celebrated our anniversary at the Hotel Wilden Mann in Lucerne, and thoroughly enjoyed our stay there. Reflecting on the best hotel experiences I’ve had on several continents, I’ve come up with what I value most in a place to stay, no matter where I go.
1. Historical significance
Not every hotel has a grand place in history, but if there’s a story to be told, I want to know it. The Wilden Mann has such a story: its Burgerstube is the oldest restaurant in Lucerne, the very first eating establishment inside the protection of city walls. It is popular with locals, who get together regularly for a meal or a drink at a Stammtisch. Family crests adorn the walls, and the place is cozy. It is easy to imagine how welcoming that must have seemed way back when.
2. Interesting architecture
This one can be taken in just about any direction, from a cave dwelling to a boat to a futuristic skyscraper.
The elevator from Reception to the floors above was installed in a former chimney shaft; and one thick wall of the formal dining room wall curves the way it does because it is part of the original city wall.
3. Exceptional service
Here, I’m looking for a personal touch, sincere interest in a guest’s happiness. It’s an added bonus when hotel staff share local customs with me.
Everyone at Wilden Mann was friendly and welcoming and eager to make our stay just that much better. Who wouldn’t enjoy such personalized service?
4. Food to die for
I am forever on the lookout for my next best meal. To my delight, we had two of them at the Wilden Mann in 24 hours.
Chef Simon Oehen serves up traditional dishes, updated for a modern palate; and our server recommended just the right wine to pair with both fish and meat. The next day, for lunch in the Stube, we shared an enormous portion of Chϋgeli pastetli, the traditional dish of Lucerne. The pastry was flaky and the veal and mushroom goodness inside provided just the right touch for a chilly day.
5. A memorable experience, befitting the hotel’s conception and environment
This is another of those wide-open categories, basically how well it all comes together.
Along with the first four items on my list, the owners’ intention to treat their guests as visitors to their home was beautifully executed.
I was delighted that my impressions from a stay here a few years ago were still spot on. The Hotel Wilden Mann is well worth visiting for an overnight stay or a meal. It’s an opportunity to take a time out, sit back and savor old-fashioned comforts—with a modern twist. Thanks to the mix of tradition and flair we experienced at the Wilden Mann last month, I could tick off all of my key criteria for hotel love.
What makes or breaks a hotel stay for you?
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Our stay at the Wilden Mann was sponsored by the Lucerne Tourist Board. However, the opinions here are entirely my own!
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