Photo of a gold-framed painting in which King Ludwig II is greeted with a bow by a man and a woman next to his carriage in front of the Gasthof Fernstein in winter for the Christmas party (c) Photo Hotel Schloss Fernsteinsee

King Ludwig II of Bavaria and his love for Fernstein

Fernstein: refuge and natural paradise

Nestled in the majestic Tyrolean landscape, Hotel Schloss Fernsteinsee harbors a deep connection to King Ludwig II of Bavaria, whose longing for peace and nature regularly drew him to this idyllic refuge. Ludwig II, known for his fondness for romantic castles and mystical places, discovered in Fernstein a locale that mirrored his vision of an untouched natural paradise. The king, reaching the region via a newly built road in 1856, was captivated by the wild mountain scenery and the historical aura of the castle ruins above Fernsteinsee.

His enthusiasm for Fernstein (formerly referred to as Vertein or Stein am Fern) led him to permanently reserve two rooms at the inn from 1872 on, each luxuriously furnished at the expense of the state coffers. These rooms, once draped in pink and blue silk damask, served as his private sanctuaries, where he basked in the glow of candlelight and majestic style, savoring the stillness of the night. The preserved menus from the royal dinners enjoyed at Fernstein attest to Ludwig's visits and his penchant for exquisite culinary delights amid this secluded oasis.

Photo of the menu written in French for King Ludwig II of Bavaria on 10 August 1885 (c) Photo Hotel Schloss Fernsteinsee
Two black and white photos of King Ludwig II of Bavaria's room in Fernstein (c) Photo Hotel Schloss Fernsteinsee

Fairytale splendour in Fernstein

The accounts of Ludwig's nighttime sleigh rides are particularly remarkable, marked by an almost fairy-tale splendor. Reposing in a golden sleigh drawn by four white horses and accompanied by outriders with storm lanterns casting their eerie light into the winter night, Ludwig embodied a figure from another world. These nocturnal excursions eventually brought the king back to the serene solitude of Fernstein, where he felt far removed from the burdens of his royal obligations and the demands of the modern world. He once expressed his feelings about this beloved oasis as follows: "A time will come for countless other people [...] when they long for a land, and flee to a spot on earth where modern culture, technology, greed, and freneticism have yet left a peaceful place far from the noise, turmoil, smoke, and dust."

The family which currently owns Hotel Schloss Fernsteinsee proudly continues the legacy of these historical encounters, preserving the stories and traditions left behind by generations of nobility and crowned heads. Ludwig's profound connection with Fernstein, a place away from the modern world where tranquility and nature prevail, can still be experienced today by all who enter this sanctuary of peace.

 Black and white photo of the Fernstein Inn around 1900 with stagecoach (c) Photo Hotel Schloss Fernsteinsee

The king's menu in Fernstein 1885

Dîner de Sa Majesté le Roi

Fernstein, le 10 aout 1885
Consommé aux petits quenelles
Truites à la hollandaise
Boeuf aux petits pois
Fricassée de poulet
Sorbet von Waldmeister
Chévreuil rôti
Gélée aux fruits
Glace: tutti frutti à l’orange

Fernstein, 10 August 1885
Consommé with small quenelles
Trout à la hollandaise
Beef with peas
Pike weed
Chicken fricassee
Sweet woodruff sorbet
Roast venison
Fruit jelly
Ice cream: orange tutti frutti

As is customary in aristocratic houses and in some haute cuisine restaurants today, the menu was written in French. What is interesting about this menu for King Ludwig II is that the terms "Hechtenkraut" and "Waldmeister" were not translated. Pike weed ("Pontederia" in French) is a marsh and water plant that was eaten as a salad. Sweet woodruff would be "aspérule odorante" in French.


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