By Don Heimburger
Photos by the author
My business takes me to European cities several times a year, and I usually end up spending a lot of time in the “old town” or historic part of a city or town. It’s typically my favorite place to spend time, looking at the market squares, visiting hotels and restaurants, asking questions about town festivals and events, or visiting a museum or other local attraction.
When I’m done at the end of a day, I want to stay close to the center of town, because really I’m not done with my work. There’s always more to see and do in the evening, and that means generally after a late afternoon break, I’m back again, interviewing, taking pictures or attending some function. And again it’s usually near the center of town.
CENTER OF TOWN CLOSE TO TRAIN STATION
In Europe, the center of town means it’s in close proximity to the train station, because the railroads are and were instrumental in growing cities.
One company that likes to locate its hotels near the train stations is Steigenberger’s InterCity Hotel group, a chain of 31 facilities in Germany and one in Austria. Their own literature says, “If you are seeking a centrally located, functionally equipped and comfortable domicile, InterCityHotels are your perfect choice.”
In a recent business deal, the Egyptian tourism corporation Travco Group became a majority stockholder in the Steigenberger Hotel Group. “Particular focus will be given to international expansion of the brands Steigenberger Hotels and Resorts and InterCityHotel,” says Hamed El Chiaty, founder and owner of the Travco Group.
On a recent trip to Munich and Freiburg, I booked rooms at the InterCity Hotel in both cities. From the Munich train station, where I arrived from the airport, I only had a few steps before I saw the familiar InterCity sign at one end of the train station.
FEATURES OF HOTEL
The five-story hotel has 198 rooms and suites, floors for non-smoking, with all rooms sound-proofed and air-conditioned. The soundproofing was a good idea, as next to a train station, it can be fairly noisy at times. Rooms feature a bathroom with shower, toilet, hair dryer, cable television and a writing desk. There was a WiFi connection in the room. The hotel featured two elevators and a restaurant (Fleming’s Brasserie & Wine Bar), where the morning’s complimentary breakfast was served.
Comfortable modern rooms at InterCity Munich.
I was happy to have room air conditioning when I was there, as it hit 95 degrees in the afternoon in Munich, a rarity for this city so close to the Alps.
A convenient part of any InterCity booking is a complimentary card that allows guests to use local public transportation free of charge. So if you want to go to the Marienplatz, as an example, which I did several times, I just presented my card at the train station when needed, and I enjoyed free transportation. The city center is less than a mile away.
Intercity hotels are mid-range in price, clean and walkable to the inner city. In the morning, a buffet-style breakfast was served with scrambled and hard-boiled eggs, sausage (white Munchener sausages), several types of yogurt, two types of juice, hard rolls, whole grain breads, crossiants and pastries, bacon, large pretzels, a variety of soft and hard cheeses, six types of cereals and a variety of cold cut meats.
There was also dried fruits, fresh fruits such as watermelon, pineapple, and a bowl of mixed apples for guests. I was ready to start my day!
The lobby downstairs was sparse but featured comfortable chairs and couches for guests, as well as a few tables.
View of Freiburg from the hotel.
THE FREIBURG INTERCITY
Later on, I took the train to Freiburg near the Black Forest, where again a stay at the InterCity there kept me close to the train station and was only a few blocks from downtown. The hotel, in fact, is just a few steps from the entrance to the train station.
This multi-level hotel features 152 guestrooms, had non-smoking rooms, cable television, direct dial telephones, a modem/fax link, a writing desk and a mini-bar. There was no air conditioning, so with the hot weather, keeping the window open was a necessity; I was told the typical summer high temperature doesn’t require air, and it’s not available in most Freiburg hotels.
The room had a shower, toilet, hairdryer, and a restaurant and a bar downstairs. The hotel staff was pleasant and I noticed they was able to answer visitors questions about the train schedules and the city. Again the room was clean and had the basics. The hotel even had rooms for the disabled if needed.
In all, a stay at a InterCityHotel affords travelers a convenient location for a mid-range price, with breakfast included.
MORE HOTELS TO OPEN
More InterCity Hotels are scheduled to open with the merger of the Travco Group. Steigenberger’s Chief Executive Officer André Witschi says that the company will continue to invest in improving the quality of their hotels, and international expansion will help them to increase brand awareness for Steigenberger Hotels and Resorts and InterCityHotels.
In 2010 and 2011 InterCityHotels will open five new locations in Germany: at the Berlin-Brandenburg Airport and in Bonn, Darmstadt, Mannheim and Ingolstadt.
If you are arriving by train: