If you’re heading to Bavaria for a ski break, then Garmisch-Partenkirchen is the place to come. It found fame when it hosted the Winter Olympics in 1936, and is still a regular stop on the Ski World Cup circuit. Here’s our choice of where to stay in this top German resort.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen sits at the foot of the Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany. Famed for its excellent ski conditions, the most challenging run is the 4km (2.5mi) Kandahar slope. Garmisch, in the west, is slightly more modern, while Partenkirchen is all traditional cobblestoned streets. Both have access to 60km (37mi) of fantastic skiing.
Dating back more than 110 years, this luxury spa hotel was established by Franz-Josef Staudacher who moved to Garmisch from Tirol in 1907, and it’s still run by the Staudacher family today. Their ethos prioritises high-quality suites, the best service and immersion in nature and wellbeing. The hotel comprises three buildings, including the old farmhouse, with recently renovated rooms and big balcony views.
The Werdenfelserei, in Garmisch, is known as the Solid Wood Hotel. Aside from all the wood, nearly every single part of the building is made from natural materials, from the furniture to the culinary offerings and wine list. This hotel has a firm eye on the environment and maintains strong ethical values. It’s an elegant mix of tradition and modern alpine style – oh, and there’s a rooftop pool looking out at the Zugspitze, too.
The rooms and suites at the Quartier are inspired by their surroundings, from the use of untreated wood (producing that distinctive alpine scent) to the natural bedlinen and metal-free beds. The very shape of the building was modelled on the mountain ridge behind. This is an innovative, modern take on the traditional ski chalet. There’s also an in-house library, a roof terrace and a restaurant focusing on the regional and creative, including beef tartare and Hawaiian poke bowls.
Sitting within the rolling forest, backed by the Bavarian Alps, the Schloss Elmau is a 25-minute drive from Garmisch-Partenkirchen. It’s more than just a hotel. The enormous spa has seven pools, Taijiquan yoga retreats, a quaint bookstore and even a concert hall, which often hosts acclaimed classical artists and author talks. The decor is traditional opulence all over, brought up to date with considered modern touches.
In the heart of Garmisch-Partenkirchen is where you’ll find the wonderfully alpine Reindls Partenkirchner Hof. Dating back to 1911, the building is made up of traditional, dark alpine wood. The old ballroom has been transformed into a Michelin-starred restaurant, serving river-caught pike-perch with tarragon sauce, alongside a selection of excellent German wines. It’s certainly one for foodies.
A huge, traditional, alpine building from the outside, the Hotel Zugspitze isn’t just your average mountain hotel. With your stay, you’re offered a free tai chi course and afternoon tea every day, plus pets are welcome too. For ultimate luxury, book the Suite Zugspitze with its roaring open fire and balcony views over the mountains. The gondola is just a short walk from the hotel.
Just outside Garmisch, you’ll find Hotel Längenfelder Hof with cross-country ski trails on the doorstep. Clip in and schuss off through the snow-laden trees. Despite its traditional exterior, inside you’ll find modern, chalet-chic rooms with plump pillows and the essential Nespresso coffee machine. The breakfast buffet here is particularly good with fresh local bread and gluten-free options too. Top it off with a much-needed back massage, using local honey.
A four-star oasis at the foot of the Zugspitze mountain, Eibsee Hotel is on the edge of the beautiful lake Eibsee, which often freezes over in winter – adding to the winter wonderland vibes. While the hotel is a quiet retreat and might seem completely off the grid, it’s also only 471 steps to the Zugspitze cable car, which takes you up to ski on the glacier pistes.
Less than half an hour’s drive from Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the moment you see Das Kranzbach, amid snowy forests and white-capped mountains, you’ll want to stay there. Built over 100 years ago, the building – originally the personal resort of British aristocrat Mary Isabel Portman – is now a dreamy retreat with five pools (including one outside), saunas, steam baths and even a yoga centre.
The Kreuzjoch Haus looks exactly the way you want a mountain chalet to – clad in wood with a sloping roof covered in snow. At an altitude of 1,585m (5,200ft), the renovated hut is ideal for a weekend winter getaway – it is ski-in, ski-out, plus there’s 110km (68mi) of snowshoeing trails to explore in the area. Start the day with a yoga class from teacher Andrea and finish your day unwinding in the sauna, with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the snowy mountaintops.
These recommendations were updated on December 13, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.