The Sanatorium

December 21, 2006

From dictionary.com

a commercial establishment offering lodging to travelers and sometimes to permanent residents, and often having restaurants, meeting rooms, stores, etc., that are available to the general public

a hospital for the treatment of chronic diseases, as tuberculosis or various nervous or mental disorders

With definitions like that it would be hard to confuse a hotel and a sanatorium – wouldn’t it?

Like all of our hotels, the one in Fuessen was booked online before we left. The description sounded pleasant, the location was perfect. We arrived in the late afternoon having driven part of the Alpenstrasse from Stein am Rhein. The building looked pretty, in a Swiss/German-chalet way.

The first indication that something was amiss was the reaction from the eight German pensioners sitting on comfy chairs by the entrance. They seemed perfectly normal – though prime candidates for God’s waiting room – but they looked at us as if we shouldn’t have been there. It turned out they were right.

The second sign was the reaction of the receptionist when we tried to book a table for dinner at 8pm. She was confused, even unsettled, by the request. Perhaps the restaurant was fully booked for 8pm we thought? Not a problem we said, later is fine. Now she looked even more uncomfortable and reluctantly admitted that they didn’t actually make reservations as dinner was in the form of a buffet and finished at 7pm.

Still bemused, we headed for our room. Simple and basic, small bathroom, a little balcony overlooking the pond and woods, twin beds, 24 hour emergency medical alarm……

Whilst Mandy was taking all of this in – and looking for the mini-bar – Ian was busy reading the “hotel” information. Random phrases, roughly translated from German, floated across the charged-atmosphere of the room and looked, optimistically, for a atom of reality to cling onto. Gems from the “hotel” rules included;

* Buffet dinner between 6pm & 7pm
* No bar, no alcohol permitted in the rooms
* Lights out by 11pm
* Wine with dinner, but only if approved by matron
* Quiet time between 2pm and 3pm each afternoon

The Rules - Page 1

Yes, this was a German sanatorium/care home/rest cure, not a hotel. However, they had obviously decided that they could supplement their takings by offering rooms to the public. We were now booked in for the night and matron was sure to know if we tried to escape. We decided to make the best of a bad situation, have an early dinner and make a break for it in the morning.

We’ll spare you the detail (believe us, we suffered enough for all of us) and just say that the dinner was, without doubt, the worst of the trip. Matron approved our wine so we indulged in 500ml of appallingly bad local red. At 7pm we headed up to the room and broke out a bottle of single malt and a packet of cashews and indulged with gay abandon.

Matron must have known though and planned her revenge as the next morning all the hot water was turned off. When we complained we were told that an engineer was working on a fault with the system so the supply had been disconnected. The clear implication was that had we be up and showered by 7am, like reasonable residents then this wouldn’t have been a problem. Obviously, we had brought this on ourselves.

As a final insult they charged us 35 Euros for dinner. Mandy later took great, great delight in posting reviews to the online travel sites :-)


One comment

  1. […] Meanwhile the car was a corner-stone of Op Keo, our ‘leaving England’ plan. Our intention was to spend three weeks driving to Cyprus and stopping at all of the places in Europe that we’d always wanted to see. We did just that and had an absolutely wonderful time – well, apart from the night that we accidentally booked into a German Sanatorium. […]

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