When we were invited on a trip by the Nuremburg and Franconian Switzerland tourism boards, we were really excited, since we saw that Nuremburg is an interesting and beautiful town and that the Franconian Switzerland region looked exciting and full of views and nature. We then found out about sleeping in a castle in Franconian Switzerland, which was simply amazing.
We arrived at the castle from Nuremburg with the car we had rented. We’ve seen pictures of the hotel and read the great reviews it has and were excited even prior to arriving.
The drive to the castle was stunning and we wanted to stop every few minutes to take photos. We passed amongst beautiful villages and everything was green with the beginnings of autumn colors (We traveled at the end of September).
Burg Rabenstein castle
Luckily, we had great weather! It was warm and sunny, without even a single drop of rain. Eventually we reached the Burg Rabenstein castle. We entered the parking lot, first stopping next to the castle entrance to unload our baggage, then parking nearby.
The castle entrance is very impressive. There’s a huge silver door, with a small bridge leading up to it. We rang the bell and were welcomed in. The girl who welcomed us was very nice and gave us room keys (The heaviest key we had at any hotel :)) and the Wi-Fi passwords (Each device gets a different password). She then led us to the room.
The room itself
The room was large and pleasant. Entering it feels like going back in time and being in a royal bedroom in a castle. There’s a twin bed with a bench in front of it (Just like back in the day), two couches with a table, a shower room with a bath and toilet and two windows with a view to the green mountain.
There’s no TV or air-conditioning in the room (It’s pleasant in the summer and there’s heating in the winter). Our room felt like a princess’s, everything was in shades of pink, with a pink wall rug.
Since we arrived at lunchtime, we decided it was a good time to get some food
Outside the castle is a restaurant called Gutsschenke, it’s a beer garden. There are seats both inside and outside the place. Sabine, the manager and owner of the hotel came to greet us and show us some of the castle, but since we were really hungry we decided to exchange the castle tour for lunch 🙂 and she joined us.
There was good weather, so we sat outside and, of course, ordered beers (I got a light beer which is mixed with lemonade, it was delicious and refreshing). Sabine explained the menu to us and I decided to order a dish of vegan mushroom dumplings (They aren’t like Dim Sum, but a type of bread patty with mushrooms on top). Roman had meat with potato balls and Sauerkraut and Sabine had a fish dish with salad (Her dish was the most photogenic).
Sabine told us about the hotel and the activities they have, such as special events at the castle. They have a magics evening and a medieval evening, a murder mystery evening and “Sophie at night” (An event at Sophienhöhle). They have walking routes, a birds of prey reservation, a gourmet dinner and tours of the castle. These activities are available to everyone, not just hotel guests.
The rest of our day was on a tight schedule, we drove to a climbing forest and went on a beer brewery tour in a nearby city (You can read all about that in the Franconian Switzerland post).
The following morning began with breakfast at the hotel
Breakfast at the castle
As you can expect from a castle, the breakfast is high-quality and delicious. There are good hard cheeses, smoked salmon, breads, fruit (Mango, Figs, Pineapple and more), hard-boiled eggs, vegetables, pastries and more
There are all kinds of teas and juices, there’s a jug of coffee on the table and I, of course, ordered a cappuccino as well.
Hiking near the castle
By the castle you’ll find many walking tracks and people often come there just to tour the area, even without being guests of the hotel. The route we walked was about 6 km and we completed it within an hour and a half. (We were on a tight schedule and didn’t want to be late for our other plans, so we didn’t stop for pictures often).
The route was in the forest, and we walked by several caves. There are signs by the road and you can see exactly how long you have until the next milestone. The track was circular, and I liked it a lot for being relatively light (A large part of it is uphill since the castle is on a mountain, however, it isn’t steep and you can calmly walk it). There’s a part offering a vantage over the castle, it was very nice seeing it from a distance and knowing that’s where we’re staying.
After the track we had a free half hour, so we sat at the castle and ordered another cappuccino. I was glad we finished the track half an hour early, that way we got to enjoy the castle some more.
Tour of the castle
Everyday, starting at 11:00 (Every hour) there’s a half hour tour in the different hotel rooms. The tour is in German (Hoping there’ll be an English version someday), but even if you aren’t a German speaker, this is a good chance to explore the castle and see its unique rooms. There’s one that looks like a ballroom, a knight’s room with a large round table and a large knight in the center. You start the tour in the fireplace room, a room always accessible where you can sit at night and have a glass of wine in front of the fireplace or during the day with a good book, you really feel like a king in a castle there. The tour is 5 euros and is available whether or not you’re a guest of the hotel.
By the hotel is a reservation for birds of prey, including falcons. The reservation opens at 13:00 and has specific hours for shows (The birds are trained on the reservation). You may meet Cosma the falcon. We held Cosma, who is 11 years old. Sabrina, her trainer, was very nice and showed us how to hold her while telling us about the reservation and the birds there. The crazy part is that Sabrina has been working there for 15 years (It’s cool to have a job you look that much).
Sophie at night event
Luckily, while we were at the castle, on our second night there, there was a special event and we got to be at “Sophie at night”. We started the evening in the fireplace room. Everyone who took part in the event came there and we were given a welcome cocktail, then continued to the Sophie cave. It’s an easy 10-15 minute walk to the cave.
At first the hostess talked for a few minutes at the entrance to the cave, she spoke in German so I’ve no idea what she told about the cave 🙂 But when she was done talking, I asked her to explain the important parts. She told us we had about 25 minutes of free time in the cave, and to be careful not to slip or touch any stalactites.
The cave is very large and impressive and there were lights and music, it was just a beautiful place to walk around. We walked slowly and took many photos. I liked the cave a lot. For some reason, I’ve had some claustrophobic experiences in other caves while traveling in Asia, and this was a bit of a redeeming experience.
After our magical visit to the cave we went back to the castle for a celebratory dinner
At the beginning of the evening we received a card with our table seat numbers. When we came back to the castle we went back to the dinning room and found our seats. Each table has room for 8 people, and there were 6 tables (I highly recommend booking events in advance, as they are in high demand).
On the table were breads with butter and you could order drinks for an extra cost. We of course ordered two glasses of white wine (You may also order a vegetarian meal ahead of time). The meal was a 3-course meal, and despite us being really hungry I can tell you it was one of the best meals we ever had. For starters we got pumpkin soup with cream sauce. Wow, the soup was incredible. We finished it so quickly.
For our mains we were served a perfectly cooked pork fillet with roasted vegetables and an amazing sauce. For dessert we got Panna Cotta with berries. This meal was great, with a 5-star service.
I didn’t expect the meal to be of such high caliber, but even if you aren’t staying at the hotel, you must have dinner there and visit one of their special events (Assuming one is available during your trip). It’s a great experience.
More information about the hotel
Everything I’ve described, such as the walking track, castle tour, birds of prey reservation and the special events are also available to those who aren’t hotel guests, and I recommend them highly as the area is truly beautiful, and the events are considered very sought after.
The hotel itself only has 22 rooms, so you should book there as far in advanced as possible, especially during peak seasons. Oh, and you can even get married there, useful information for newly engaged couples 🙂
Additionally, one of my favorite things about the castle is the possibility to walk around and discover something new every time. Once we discovered a nice balcony, and another time one of the employees showed us a charming balcony with greenery and a gorgeous view of the mountains.
Every time we visited a castle I’ve dreamt I’ll someday get the chance to sleep at a place like that, and in Germany it finally came to pass! We stayed at a castle and it was a special and luxurious experience. I felt like I’m in a medieval movie and enjoyed every moment.