When my job sends me to Europe, there is only one thing on my mind … where else can I go while I’m there? In May, I was scheduled to work in Frankfurt – an international melting pot boasting beautiful parks that provide the perfect backdrop for a city run and some of the best sushi (yes, sushi) I’ve had away from California. Not to mention the modern German fare, such as what you’ll find at Meyer’s Restaurant. Frankfurt deserves a post of its own, but that’s for another time.
Since I was traveling solo and only had a weekend, I wanted to stick close to Frankfurt. I’d like to think it was fate that I stumbled upon Baden Baden, which means “bath bath,” given I have an obsession with baths. Dating back to the Roman Empire and famed for its rejuvenating thermal waters, this quaint little town is a short hour from Frankfurt.
Given reactions from my European counterparts in Frankfurt, I learned that Baden Baden is a hangout for the rich upper class, boasting world-class music at Festspielhaus (concert hall) and the chance to throw away some money at Spielbank (casino). But this cute, storybook town is much more than a shopping trip to Louis Vuitton. Nestled in the Black Forest, it offers numerous hikes, a killer wine region, cute cafes, and yes, baths.
TIP: The train is only an hour from Frankfurt, but be careful to select the direct option or it can otherwise take you three. It’s also crowded (I ended up with no seat), so I’d recommend first class if you don’t want the hassle. You can purchase a train ticket here.
PJ Pants: I dig quaint, but when it comes to hotels, I’m a modern girl. Give me minimalist, eclectic décor and a huge, pristine bathtub over four-poster beds and quilts any day. As part of the Autograph Collection, Roomers Baden Baden was hip and stylish with incredible service, such as sparkling Rosé upon arrival. My room was modern yet cozy with superhero artwork, an old typewriter and a huge bathtub that peeked into the bedroom.
It’s a party destination for people in town – men and women arrived in club attire to hangout at the Rooftop Bar and Roomers Bar, where I closed out Friday night listening to 90s rap and drinking a Hennessey to the tune of 30 Euros.
The spa is open ‘til midnight with a spectacular view of the forest during the day — the perfect spot for me to end a weekend of R&R.
Fat Pants: As I mentioned, I’ve had some stellar sushi in Germany and Moriki might take the cake. There is one in Frankfurt, and the one at Roomers Baden Baden was even better, but maybe that’s because I was sitting at the bar solo and could order whatever I wanted. I took the waiter’s recommendation on sashimi and cut rolls and every bite was delicious. It’s my German Sugarfish.
Baden Baden is pretty quiet at night but Monte Christo, a popular Spanish tapas spot, was packed on Saturday with locals and tourists in the know. (Thank you Afar Magazine for the rec.) Plus, I could pick out some Spanish words and that made me more confident about my ordering (see tip). Overlooking the street through a window, I noshed on olives, jamón, lamb meatballs and mushrooms in a sinful sauce. Still thinking about those.
If you’re looking for breakfast and coffee, head over to Café König for the best pastries in town. Pick out your favorite treat at the patisserie next door, take a number and enjoy the lovely patio seating. Or if you’re in the mood for something more substantial, they have a full menu, as well as tea service.
TIP: I didn’t find any English menus in Baden Baden. After mistakenly ordering a salad that wasn’t a salad, I chose cuisine where I could recognize the words or watched what other people ordered and pointed.
Ants in Your Pants: I love to spend my day in physical activity, my late afternoons relaxing and my nights eating good food and drinking nice wine. Baden Baden was a perfect match for my personality.
Hiking – Surrounded by the enchanting Black Forest, Baden Baden offers hikes for all levels. Around 47 different trails. I chose a 3-mile hike that turned into more because I got a little lost. After winding through what looked like a path Hansel and Gretel took, I ended up at Geroldsauer Waterfall and then the forest restaurant Bütthof for a cold beer. What? I worked hard.
Friedrichsbad – About 140-years-old, this Roman-Irish bath is called “a temple to the art of bathing.” Amidst amazing tile work, frescoes and a breathtaking dome, you wind through 17 stages that include saunas, steam rooms, dry brushing and cold pools – ending with a 30-min group nap and a hot cup of tea. I’ve got to mention that it’s all in the nude so make sure to check that it’s a separate, not a co-ed day. But be warned – a couple of stages are still co-ed and I ended up in a cold pool with three naked dudes. I recommend the Luxury option – it includes a soap & brush massage and a cream massage for only 59 Euros.
Lichtentaller Alle – No trip to Baden Baden would be complete without a stroll down the Lichtentaller Alle – a path through the center of town filled with trees, flowers, green grass, gardens, rivers and bridges. It’s a nice way to work off a pastry … or two.
NOTE: Baden Baden has some amazing wine in close proximity and when I return, I’m going to partake in some dry Rieslings. Just seemed weird solo. Anyone been wine tasting alone?