Story and some photos by Melanie Votaw
Other photos courtesy of Hotel Taschenbergpalais Kempinski Dresden
Hotel Taschenbergpalais Kempinski Dresden
Some hotels deserve superlatives, and Hotel Taschenbergpalais Kempinski Dresden is one of them. The original building was built by Saxon king August the Strong in the 18th century to pledge his love to his favorite mistress, so it’s quite literally an opportunity to stay in a palace. No surprise that it’s a coveted wedding location. Any bride who arrives there in a horse-drawn carriage will fulfill her childhood Cinderella fantasy.
The first 5-star hotel in Saxony, Hotel Taschenbergpalais undertook a major renovation in 1995 and will be closed for most of 2023 as it goes through another one. So get there soon, or start making plans for 2024.
Besides both the external and internal beauty of this hotel, its location is perfect. The only time I needed transport by car was the ride to or from the airport or train station. Absolutely everything else I wanted to see was within easy walking distance. It’s steps from the Royal Palace, the Zwinger Palace, and the Semper Opera House, for example, as well as the Elbe River. But the hotel’s concierge can set you up with a car or limousine if you prefer.
Of course, it’s true that Dresden suffered devastating damage during World War II, so many buildings have either been entirely rebuilt or significantly restored – some using original materials from the rubble. This includes the Hotel Taschenbergpalais itself.
But I have to say that after having traveled extensively throughout Europe and often becoming (I’m sorry to say) a bit jaded, my jaw dropped at the sight of Dresden’s Baroque and Rococo architecture, reconstructed or not. And I thought about the fact that all historic buildings in Europe have undergone substantial renovations over the years. Even if the buildings are not the originals, they are universally stunning. Some of the construction continues, too, such as on the Zwinger Palace complex.
I also thoroughly enjoyed the market in the square just a stone’s throw from the hotel, where there are booths selling crafts, beer, and bratwursts, surrounded by a merry-go-round, a ferris wheel, and buskers. It was fun to watch the tourists and locals enjoying the sunny spring weather.
After a long day of visiting sights in the historic district or taking a ferry ride on the Elbe, which is lined with historic mansions, the Hotel Taschenbergpalais was an elegant sanctuary. My Kurfürsten deluxe room was 452 square feet with a queen-sized bed, full desk, two chairs, a bench, large closet, and an armoire that contained the television and minibar. The décor was traditional but not staid with dark blue and red. I appreciated the bathtub/shower combination and other amenities like the towel warmer and makeup mirror, as well as the pillow menu that included an allergy cushion. I also had a lovely view from my windows of the neighboring buildings and people walking through the historic section.
Standard and Superior rooms run slightly smaller than mine, but still larger than a lot of hotel rooms in Europe. Then, of course, there are suites available with two rooms and plenty of meeting/conference space. The expansive building contains 182 rooms and 31 suites.
Of course, as you’d expect of a five-star Kempinski hotel, the staff was attentive, and the property included 24-hour room service, free WiFi, valet parking, luxury shops, a gorgeous pool, a spa, a sauna, and a fitness center. Other more unusual services included overnight shoeshine service and charging stations for both electric and Tesla vehicles. There is also an underground garage and an 18-hole golf course not far away if you’re so inclined.
There are several restaurants within the building, including the Palais Bistro with German-French cuisine. For a few weeks this summer, they’re serving a special six-course truffle menu (I’m sorry to have missed that), or you might want to have flambé Crepe Suzette at your table.
The Fish Restaurant Kastenmeiers has a sushi and oyster bar, as well as a smokers’ lounge, while the hotel’s Karl May Bar was inspired by New York’s Oak Room. The Café Vestibul contains a double-barreled Baroque staircase that was designed by the same architect as the Zwinger Palace and a sun terrace where you can bring your dog and/or have afternoon tea. (In fact, pets are welcome throughout the hotel.) Better yet, it doesn’t require a reservation. Breakfast is held in Kastenmeiers with a large buffet of pastries, cheeses, meats, and eggs, along with sparkling wine on ice for making mimosas.
In winter, the hotel’s courtyard becomes an ice rink that’s open to the public. Since the hotel’s design and site are historical, it’s nice that they don’t keep the rink exclusive to guests.
I highly recommend a visit to Dresden, and if you go, Hotel Taschenbergpalais is THE place to stay. What’s particularly nice about this city and hotel is that you can get five-star treatment for what you’d pay (or less than what you’d pay) for a lesser four-star property in cities like Paris or London. Currently, room rates range from 156-750 Euros per night.
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