by Andrea Guthmann
Ever dream of overnighting in a castle? Imagine getting the royal treatment, while at the same time receiving a history lesson about German medieval times. Hear ye, hear ye — staying at the Bavarian castle hotel Burg Rabenstein will provide you with a “knight” to remember and a vacation your prince or princess will never forget.
It’s hard not to be awestruck as you approach this massive limestone fortress dating back to the 12th century. As you cross the stone pedestrian bridge leading to the castle, you’ll be staring into the imposing family crest and shields etched into the stone above the arched doorway. Visitors are greeted in the lobby by a knight in armor, as well as a front desk clerk clad in medieval garb, who will gladly explain the history of the fortress and how it was added on to throughout the centuries.
History is staring at you from every doorway and every turn in the hallway. Everyone in the family will be dumbstruck as they step into what seems like a scene from Camelot. You’re free to wander about the castle’s many public spaces. That includes the impressive Knight’s Hall, with its stately round table and impressive array of shields, armor and assorted weaponry from the Middle Ages.
Worried that a castle hotel is more about character than comfort? This 22-guestroom hotel has modern bathrooms and plush beds, alongside a jaw-dropping array of period antiques, paintings, and castle-themed decor. An overnight stay in this impressive centuries-old stone building, with its gold leaf painted doors and trim, will have you feeling like you’ve stepped into a fairy tale. Breathtaking views of the countryside and world-class regional cuisine, alongside luxurious modern amenities, insure that everyone in the family will have happily-ever-after memories of their royal visit to Burg Rabenstein.
Our Editor Loves
- Sleeping in an authentic castle
- Knights, armor and medieval weaponry on display
- Exploring nearby forests and caves
- Family Room 5+
- Onsite Dining
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The 22 rooms and suites have breathtaking views of the surrounding German countryside and the Veldensteiner Forest. Rooms have been completely restored and updated with castle-themed decor. They are decorated with plush linens and bedding, period antiques and modern bathrooms. Bathrooms are spacious, with showers, hairdryers and toiletries. Most have a bathtub, but request it upon reserving if that is important to your family. Each room can be reached by an elevator.
Every room and suite is unique, with its own period furnishings and a variety of configurations. Larger families will be pleased with one of the three larger suites, with a separate bedroom and living room with a pullout sleeper sofa. An additional bed can be put into these suites for a fee of 25 Euros, providing enough space for up to two adults and three children.
Additional rollaway beds can also be placed into double rooms and junior suites, allowing space for two adults and two children. Complimentary cribs are also available.
The hotel owners have done a world-class job of retaining the charm and history of the past, while adding modern luxuries. There are a few signs of modern times you won't find here though. For instance, there's no television. Instead, consider spending your evening by a crackling fireplace in the elegantly decorated public lounge/sitting area.
One other modern amenity that's lacking? If Wi-Fi is vital, you may be disappointed. There's only one complimentary Wi-Fi spot available in the hotel. It's a small public area just off the lobby with only one chair. The hotel's Wi-Fi cannot be accessed in the guest rooms.
Some rooms have phones and alarm clocks, but ours did not. The front desk is happy to let guests use their phone for local calls and to wake you up the old-fashioned way -- with a knock on the door.
Another modern day comfort you won't find is air conditioning. However, since the castle is at a higher elevation, you'll find it gets quite chilly in the evening and that air conditioning is rarely needed. We stayed at the castle hotel during an unusually sweltering European heat wave and had no trouble sleeping.
Loved the decor in keeping with the middle ages - from welcoming knight in armor, to delightful huge fire pace in the dining room and falconry demonstration. Rooms were lovely but very low light - presumably to fit in with the "dark" ages. parking is quite a walk away - so better to drive up to the entrance and off load before parking. Excellent service from the reception - i just lost my purse that pm with ccard and money - they were so nice and understanding and also helped secure tickets to the show in the caves the next night , which was sold out.
Beautifully situated with lots of charm. A few issues, however: lighting in the room was very poor, impossible to read even with the 'reading light'; the bed area was on an elevated platform - luckily I didn't break a leg or sprain an ankle every time I forgot that fact - who thought that was a good idea?; no elevator - had to lug my suitcase up a flight of stairs; reception desk not always manned. But loved the location. Excellent breakfast and restaurant downstairs.
Burg Rabenstein has a terrific falcon wilderness preserve, housing over 80 falcons, owls and birds of prey. In the warmer months, there's also a daily falconry show at 3 p.m.
Burg Rabenstein is a perfect base for hiking the surrounding Veldensteiner Forest and exploring the nearby cave, called the Sophienhohle. The Sophie caves are worth exploring and are open 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. April to October; admission is 6.50 euros for adults and 5 euros for children at night, 3.50 euros for adults and 2.50 euros for children during the day. You can contact the hotel about scheduling a guided tour of the cave. Another incredible adventure is experiencing a cave concert. Throughout the year, there are live concerts held at the cave. The hotel has the schedule for the upcoming year's events.
The hotel also hosts a large medieval festival twice a year, one in June and one in August. It's a great opportunity to immerse yourselves in a family-friendly event with the locals, many of whom speak English. This multi-day event brings traveling performers and medieval music troupes, food stalls and folk artists and craftsmen. The nightly fire show is a highlight not to be missed. Admission to the medieval festival is free for hotel guests.
Burg Rabenstein has an elegant restaurant in the castle, serving regional Franconian cuisine. As is typical in most German hotels, there's a complimentary breakfast buffet, which includes eggs, fresh fruits and juices, cold cut and cheese platters, yogurts, cereals and fresh bread. Prosciutto and Brie cheese on a pretzel roll for breakfast? Ja, you'll be eating breakfast like a king at Burg Rabenstein. Guten appetit!
There's also the more rustic Gutsschenke restaurant, tucked into the forest next to the castle. From late March through October, there's an outdoor beer garden, with typical German communal picnic tables. Prost! The interior of the restaurant is eclectic as well -- the limestone and arched doorways make you feel like you're in a well-preserved centuries-old wine cellar. The restaurant serves regional specialties, including schnitzel and spatzle (German noodles) and much of the meat, cheese, fowl and produce are local. The menu is available in German and English and there's a kids section. High chairs are available and the informal atmosphere makes this a great choice for families.
Planning & Tips
The Art of Smart Timing
The falconry and beer garden are only open between late March and October. Visiting during the warmer months allows guests to get the full experience of the castle hotel and its shows and exhibits, including the medieval festival and market.
Late July through the middle of August is high season in Germany, when all the children are out of school. Hotel rates will be at a premium. Visiting during the shoulder seasons of late spring and autumn can be a good choice, if that is an option for your family.
There is no fitness center at Burg Rabenstein. Take advantage of the surrounding countryside to exercise the old-fashioned way -- hiking through the forest or going on a jog.
There is no Wi-Fi available in guest rooms. There is one small area near the lobby that offers a complimentary Wi-Fi connection. There's only one chair for guests to sit in, and the connection is pretty spotty. There is no business center or hotel computer available to guests either. Some rooms have telephones, but many do not.
Nuremberg Airport is the closest airport to Burg Rabenstein, however, you'll find more frequent flights in and out of the United States into Munich's Franz Josef Strauss Airport, about two hours from the castle hotel.
Burg Rabenstein is in an out-of-the-way destination. You'll need to rent a car to get to it. You'll find renting a car in Germany to be easy and budget-friendly. Many U.S. car rental companies have offices in Germany. German airports have kiosks for most of the major U.S. rental car companies.
Although there are some signs for the hotel along the Castle Road (Burgenstrasse), the way is not clearly marked. You'll need to rent a navigational device along with your car. You should also have a good paper map as backup. Do not try to arrive at this secluded hotel at night.
From Autobahn 73, take the exit for Buttenheim and head toward Ebermannstadt; once in Ebermannstadt, turn left at a T-junction onto B470 toward Bayreuth. Stay on B470 as it follows the river for about 10 miles, until reaching BehringersmÃ¼hle. Then, turn left toward Bayreuth (watch for the signs for Burg Rabenstein). Go through Oberailsfeld and you'll see the castle on the left; follow the road and make a sharp left after NeumÃ¼hle, where there is a big sign for Burg Rabenstein. Follow the signs and make a left into the parking lots at the top of the hill. For GPS: Rabenstein 33, 95491 Ahorntal, Germany.
For Mom and Dad
There is no kid's club or babysitting available at Burg Rabenstein. If mom and dad can manage some time to themselves, some possibilities includ an elegant dinner in the Burg Restaurant (castle restaurant), a stein of beer at the castle's beer garden during the warmer months or a relaxing evening by the fire in the castle lounge.