Hotel Schloss Dürnstein - Wachau, Austria
When you have more than 3 days in Vienna it is definitely worth to grab a rental car and explore the wineries, located just in an hour's drive from the beautiful Austrian capital. So did Daniel and I and we both took the opportunity to visit the famous area called “Wachau” directly situated along the Danube - offering top wineries like Bründelmayer or F.X. Pichler. Nestled in the beautiful old town of Dürnstein, you can find the Relais & Chateaux Schloss Dürnstein. Accessible only via the pedestrian area where you are allowed to drive through in slow pace until the arrival at a wrought-iron gate driveway - very common for a five star chateau hotel like this one, Driving through this gate, lead us to to the backyard were we found the very last available parking lot and once unpacked, we walked to the reception. Considering the low amount of rooms, there was no bellman on site, however we did never have the feeling to need assistance with the bags - it's a weekend getaway spot and therefore you travel light with a weekender.
Being expected at the reception, we got escorted to our superior double room with balcony and views of the river Danube. Upon arrival at the room we were totally impressed about that view which is definitely the highlight of this property. The room in total has a very classical touch with lovely details like the ceiling, decorated with stucco or the Relais&Chateaux branded carpet floor. Our 25 square meter room had features like a balcony, minibar as well as complimentary wifi (that has room for improvement). The room also offered two twin beds joined as a king size bed. Unfortunately I couldn't sleep well as the bed was very short and the mattress felt somehow uncomfortable. but maybe it's just my personal opinion. As a welcome present, the very attentive housekeeping team prepared a fruit plate and a bottle of regional sparkling water for us, which is the perfect choice with temperatures of up to 30 degrees - considering it's been only May!
Right next to wardrobe there is the bathroom, which is very classical, equipped with a bathtub/shower combo (safes room but flooded the entire bathroom plus is only made to shower and not wash your hair) a toilet and very nice sink. When you’re staying in Relais&Chateaux property it should be clear that chances are high to get one of the brand's own toiletries - which are just alright and one of the only points to improve in the otherwise perfect concept.
Due to the high temperatures as I mentioned before we decided to spent the next few hours at the outdoor pool right next to our room. The pool itself is very private - situated at the center area of the property to avoid curios looks from outside the hotel. There are enough possibilities to lie down and just enjoy the weather and if you get thirsty you can just ring the bell and a waiter appears imminently to take your order. Actually the Schloss Hotel Dürnstein reminded me very much of the Ritz in Paris from time to time - even the towels had the same rose color.
Should you ever be in Dürnstein and the weather is not that nice (for whatever reason), the hotel offers a beautiful and vast indoor wellness area with sauna, infrared chamber and steam bath. Of course there is a huge, beautifully appointed heated indoor pool as well and if you are on the sporty side, you can hit the small gym and get refreshed by the complimentary offered drinks like tea and juices right next to the indoor pool.
After a beautiful day at the pool Daniel and I were already very hungry and more than ready to get dinner in the Gault & Millau awarded restaurant (14/20) . Relais & Chateaux properties are famous for having an excellent kitchen or Restaurant. One of the highlights of this eatery is for 100% that view!! (picture). After a quick chat with the hotel manager we got our aperitifs and our bread with basil cream, very tasty salty butter (I guess house made) and olive oil extra virgin. We had the choice between a surprise menu including 5 or 6 courses or a la carte. Generally, the menu contained very classical dishes like beef tatare or veal escalope.
Let’s start with the very fine and accurate presented amuse bouche which was a smoked halibut with cress cream and fresh herbs straight out of the herb garden. As starter Daniel tried the seasonal asparagus risotto with baked egg and salmon caviar. I tried the asparagus cream soup with baked black tiger shrimp. All in all the starters have been very good, tasty and nice presented by the chefs which definitely had a busy evening because the staff seemed to be pretty busy considering it was a casual Sunday evening. Maybe the team was understaffed. Due to the busy circumstances we waited like half an hour for the next course, which was not a big deal because we had nothing planned for the rest of the evening and we did not mind focusing on our discussions.
For main course we decided to order pata negra pork with port-wine-shallots jus and baked bacon beans with parsley potatoes. Daniel ordered an Austrian veal tenderloin with crispy amaranth served with potato soufflé and spring morel jus. From my point of view, Daniel's choice was the better one as the combination was more perfect than mine. Our wine paring was also quite nice: Mr. Thierry recommended us a glass of the “Blaufränkisch” house weine which fitted perfect to the two meals. Yes, its been a real Relais & Chateaux dinner, with very high quality products as usual and we felt that the chef and his team know how to impress their guests.
On the next day we had to wake up early so we got the restaurant to grab breakfast. Due to the time it wasn’t possible to eat on the terrace because it was too cold. However we got a nice table with river view and were well served by a local waitress. The buffet was very comprehensive with everything you expect at a five star hotel. Unfortunately they did not serve Eggs Benedict, just two choices of omelettes which I found a bit odd, being a Relais & Chateaux property at its best. Otherwise we were blown away by the bread selection & quality, freshness of the orange juice as well as the wonderful cold cuts selection. The buffet was just wow, honestly - even for Viennese standards and it's located on the Austrian countryside.
All in all, this hotel is a perfect place for all those dreaming of a living like a princess or prince on the Austrian countryside, laid-back gourmets or lovers of fine luxury that don't mind staying in an old-school castle hotel with all its ups and downs. I totally love the total concept and think it was the only right hotel for our occasion and therefore would return soon again.
We stayed at the Hotel Schloss Dürnstein as part of our cooperation with Relais & Chateaux and were generously hosted by the Thierry Family. All above written expresses our own opinion and hasn't been influenced.