The IC Berchtesgaden… the Closest IC to Hallstatt

InterContinental Berchtesgaden View

After a full day of reenacting The Sound of Music in Salzburg (that’s not a joke), our hotel for the night was yet to be booked. So I pulled into a McDonalds and hopped on their wifi and booked the legendary InterContinental Berchtesgaden for the next two nights. InterContinental and IHG’s first of two mountain resorts.

45 minutes from Salzburg we were winding up the steep road to the InterContinental Berchtesgaden in no time.

It was our second time at the hotel and my mom’s first. Although admittedly it was so cloudy and rainy our first time, I didn’t see a single peak, which kind of defeats the purpose of being at a mountain resort, in my opinion.

Why is this hotel awesome?

1) It’s in the alps.

And while this area is very quiet and may not appeal to more sporty mountain dwellers, the peace is wonderful. The views in the area are incredible.

Berchtesgaden National Park

For the fellow adventurers, I’ll warn you. The hotel is pretty far away from the small, quiet tourist town (although they do give you free cards for the public transport down the mountain). The skiing near the hotel makes the bunny slopes in even Virginia look like Black Diamonds. And there’s basically nothing of extreme adventure otherwise (that I know of).

But I’m defining adventure as extreme sports. Like Queenstown, New Zealand is a capital for adventurers. Everything fast and extreme is there. But it’s similar scenery without the parachutes and jet skis all over.

There are a bunch of gondolas (though kind of expensive) to incredible peaks, small boat cruises across the little lakes, and beautiful views everywhere.

2) Because it has a heated outdoor infinity pool.

InterContinental Berchtesgaden Heated Pool

Okay, the hotel is swank in many ways. For example, the floor in the bathroom is heated. Really, the entire thing is 5 star on any country’s standard… Well, 6 stars for Germany’s hotel standards.

But I can’t stress enough how awesome it is for the snow to be falling on all the green and white trees below you, and to be floating at the edge of the pool watching it.

InterContinental Berchtesgaden PoolIt’s completely awesome.

For a number of reasons I would recommend the hotel for a honeymoon. There’s something awe inspiring about the hotel. Yet, it’s incredibly slow.

If it’s ever on PointBreaks I’ll probably book a month and work on projects there.

If it’s only a 3 day stay, I would rely on the bus to get around and hike around the area.

If it’s a week stay I would totally rent a car… or leave after 3 days. Though there’s plenty to do if you rent a car. And don’t underestimate how far things are. Like a trip to Innsbruck, Vienna, or Neuschwanstein appears to be not so far… but is really at least 4 hours each way.

Konigssee Lake Berchtesgaden

Things that are 1 hour or less away:

  • Hallstatt
  • Salzburg
  • Konigssee

However, the area around Konigssee, Berchtesgaden National Park is not really drivable. Long hikes or boat trips in are possible. Gondolas to the peaks around are possible too.

Then there are things to do in shooting distance of the hotel, like with buses:

  • Hilter’s Eagles Nest (viewable from the hotel lobby)
  • The salt mines
  • Berchtesgaden main square and restaurants
  • And hiking trails begin at the base of the hotel.
Hitlers Eagles Nest from InterContinental

View of Hitler’s Eagles Nest from the IC lobby

Truthfully you can bus really easily to Konigssee or Salzburg. But really there are just tons of hikes and gondolas.

And there are three restaurants in the hotel, although not all of them are always open. The Bavarian restaurant, which is tasty and pretty reasonable, is only open on weekends. Truthfully, the prices are a little high, but it’s not necessarily far from the typical range for the area. It’s just more than I normally spend.

The minibars are free for everyone! However, they pretty much only include juice and water. This may be a disappointment for most, but I prefer fruit juice to liquor anyway.

InterContinental Berchtesgaden Room

I mean, can you believe this picture from the room? It’s not edited. There are no polarizers on the lens. (#nofilter!) It’s just a picture from the cheapest, old used SLR I found on ebay years ago. And that picture with the lodge below is beautiful.

Just had to point that out (although the first picture in the post is indeed edited slightly).

How to get it for free

The hotel is 35,000 points a night. In my opinion, that’s relatively low considering how nice the hotel is, the value per night, and how they generally charge 50,000 points for hotels of that caliber.

1) Credit card

There is a credit card that gives 80,000 points. It’s kind of unofficial, but I posted on a recent post and someone commented confirming they were approved for 80,000 points, as well as numerous people on FlyerTalk. Details here.

I always want to stress that hotel cards are very secondary to airline miles. And one should never transfer from Chase to IHG (unless there as an IHG PointBreaks!).

2) IHG’s Best Rate Guarantee

If you’re unfamiliar with IHG Best Rate Guarantee, you could be missing out on a completely free night. Click and read more.

3) Promotions

If you haven’t read my post on Earning IHG Rewards Points on Steroids… you’re really missing out big.

How big?

Feast your eyes on the following picture, and meditate on it:

Screen Shot 2013-10-24 at 3.41.52 PM

 

I earned that many points and Gold status from one stay… pre Big Win bonus.

And if you didn’t see the value in the Big Win, then. Well. I don’t know what to say, other than the combo is absolutely killer.

Conclusion

I kid about it being close to Hallstatt, but Hallstatt is 1.5 hours away and is stunning. The drive is stunning. Read my post on Hallstatt, Austria. But I love a lot of the area.

It’s a bit slow but very cozy. Summer is their peak season but being there in the snow is magical. Being in the outdoor infinity pool in the snowy sunset is freaking sweet.

My dream is that it will be on the next PointBreaks since I’ll be in northern Italy in Feb. One can hope.

My only complaint is IHG. They were completely undersold when we were there and despite being Royal Ambassadors, they gave no suite. I normally wouldn’t care but 1) I was with my mom. and 2) IHG is a con program. Everyone else at least claims to give unsold suites. But IHG doesn’t honor their crappy terms and conditions on award stays. It’s a bit backwards.

But the hotel was saying how empty they were and yet, they explicitly said that they wouldn’t give us a suite because we used points. IHG is the best thing that has happened to Hyatt and SPG.

Anyways. It’s simply unique to have a mountain resort. Can’t wait to visit the one in Davos for sure! So it seems to be that a lot of points collectors go there, no? Most people outside of the community haven’t heard of it, and I’m guessing a large amount of people on here have?

What did you think Mom? (This is a test to see if she’ll read past all the points talk).

A few pictures to end with…

InterContinental Berchtesgaden Lobby InterContinental Berchtesgaden Lobby InterContinental Berchtesgaden InterContinental Berchtesgaden InterContinental Berchtesgaden Pool

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15 Responses to The IC Berchtesgaden… the Closest IC to Hallstatt

  1. Erik says:

    I used to work for one of the big German multinational companies based in Munich. The Germans have a concept where they like to have team meetings or training sessions off-site away from the corporate campus a few times a year. You stay at a hotel for a few days, attend your sessions, and most meals are provided by the hotel. The idea is that if you are ‘living’ amongst your colleagues for a few days you will get to know each other better and therefore have more productive working relationships. I actually like this concept and think it works well, especially for teams that are scattered across Germany or, in my case, the globe. The Alps are a popular destination year-round and there are literally scores of 4 and 5-star hotels catering to this business that are scattered in little villages nestled in the foothills of the mountains. I would guess that the IC Berchtesgaden is no different, perhaps targeting some of the wealthier companies or their executive management (although the negotiated rates for some of these Alpine meeting have been outstanding!) I know that it is a German business trend because we would also meet groups from other big German companies.

    • Travel Is Free says:

      Actually our first time there it seemed that a company even was going on. And for this reason booking last minute can be an issue for the hotel. Sometimes there are just no rooms. After all, there aren’t a ton of rooms, so if you meet on a big company…

      Sounds like a German tradition I could enjoy though. :-)

  2. Daniel says:

    AWSOME!!!

  3. cj says:

    nice review -awesome views

  4. Margo says:

    Gorgeous pics!! Am planning a trip to Prague in October, was planning 4 nights there, then 3 in Salzburg. ( yes a sound of music fan, I’ll admit it. ) Was considering Sheraton in Salzburg , but maybe should reevaluate that….

    • Travel Is Free says:

      Thanks Margo.
      I mean, Salzburg is small but it’s lovely. I’m not entirely sure where the Sheraton is but the town is nothing larger than tiny. I mean, at least the downtown area. And a car is kind of a joke there.

      So unless your trying to hit all the Sound of Music sites, I can say I’ve seen Salzburg in two days, and I tend to be slow paced. We spent a week there.

      There is a Radisson Blu in like the best location ever. So you could do two nights there.

      From the castle, there is an amazing view of the alps.

      • Margo says:

        Thanks for info. Do you suggest the Radisson over the IC in pics? I think one day of Sound of Music immersion will suffice, maybe one day to relax. Glad that it is walkable. Do you feel Vienna is a must-see?

        • Travel Is Free says:

          Well, that’s a question of Salzburg (where the Radisson is) or being in the alps in Berchtesgaden.
          It would really depend on budget and time. If I could do both I would. If I had to pick one, I’d probably choose the IC Berchtesgaden.
          Given that your coming from prague though, Salzburg won’t be anything too special.

          Also, I’m told that Prague is the most beautiful city in Europe, but I have yet to see it! But Vienna is beautiful too, so it should get your fix. If I had to choose between Salzburg and Vienna, I’ve been to both multiple times, and enjoy them both… but it’s hands down Vienna. But the alps are what makes salzburg awesome, and if you have a car and 3 days, you can see Berchtesgaden or Hallstatt.

          By the way, parking at the IC is insane. Park down the hill after you drop off the luggage, if you wish to save $20.

          Hope that helps some. Sounds like a fast paced trip.

        • Erik says:

          @Margo – I’ve been to many cities big and small in Europe. Prague was a bit of a letdown for me after hearing all the hype about “the best preserved city in Europe”. Maybe it was quaint and “undiscovered” 15 years ago, but cheap flights from all over Europe have put an end to that. The Czechs have cashed in on the tourist hordes and it felt very touristy to me. The old town square area is a good example: most shops are selling souvenirs, the cafés are not great quality – it didn’t feel like an area where locals would want to go (in contrast to the Marienplatz area in Munich which is a main shopping/dining destination drawing locals & tourists). Don’t get me wrong, Prague is definitely worth a visit, but if your main objective is sightseeing, I don’t think I would spend 4 nights there, maybe only 2 nights. Use the other 2 nights in Vienna, as an old empire capital there is certainly a lot to see and also a good overall ambience to experience (it seemed like everywhere I went there was a waltz or another style of classical music present in the background).

  5. Shawn says:

    I hadn’t heard of this particular IC. It looks incredible. Thanks for again bringing a unique perspective. I am kind of sad we didn’t visit there since we in the area earlier this year. Next time for sure!

    • Travel Is Free says:

      Hey, my friend John said the other day, “never travel like you’re never going back”. Always next time. And now there’s another IC mountain resort in Davos. Although I’ve avoided Switzerland until I’m rich. :-p

    • Lively says:

      I agree with Shawn. If I didn’t read your trip report….I’d probably wouldn’t give this hotel a second look. Thanks for the info.

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