Germany: Lübbenau Castle
No B&Bs for me—I’m bunking at the castle. Lübbenau Castle anchors the tourist town of Lübbenau in the district of Brandenburg, about an hour southeast of Berlin. Redecorated in the 19th-century Renaissance style, the castle features 44 rooms and suites over three floors in two wings, plus 20 family-sized suites in the renovated stables.
Vibe: This region has been welcoming all kinds of visitors since the 1860s when the rail lines were established and not much has changed. The crowd is mostly middle-aged couples and younger families enjoying quiet time in the country. There are a few campgrounds nearby. Business people book in during the week, giving the castle a slight conference-y edge.
Rooms: Lübbenau Castle sports six room sizes, from single to family size, plus two grander suites, with each room featuring a different configuration. Guest-home-style furnishings are traditional and fairly mumsy in a comforting way, with sturdy, pale-wood tables and chairs, gold-based lamps, lots of rusts and greens, and chintz-patterned pillows and curtains. In the stables, 20 family-sized holiday apartments, five of them barrier free, carry on the same traditional, colorful style. Main floor rooms have use of a garden.
F&B: Your standard buffet breakfast is included—and it is hearty. The Castle Restaurant Linari is cozy and quaint, done up in pastels, doing the classic German dishes so very well. “Nature writes our menu” is the chef’s motto, signifying local produce, herbs, meat, poultry and fish. The manly Rocco’s Linari Bar sports striking red walls, tufted leather sofas, comfy chairs, a pool table and a giant cocktail list filled with all the classics.
Extras: Use of the sauna and steam bath at the spa in the castle vaults is included in the price of your room.
Off-Site: The surrounding area, known as the Spreewald, is a UNESCO bio reserve made up of more than 300 natural, ice age-created canals weaving through forest and farmland, with inhabitants getting to and from their homes by hand-paddled, flat-bottomed pine river boats—i.e. there are no roads. The castle is a 10-minute walk to both the boat rental facilities and the old town high street, complete with centuries-old buildings, quaint shops and restaurants, and the fabulous Spreewald Museum. An incredible open-air museum down the road is set up like a farm village and mirrors life in the 1800s. There is also a Pickle Museum—not kidding—which celebrates the region’s history of growing almost nothing but cucumbers.