Friday, 14 September 2018
Auberge de l’Ill–A Little Bit of Heaven in the French Countryside–and the Hotel des Berges
The first time I visited the Auberge de l’Ill I was on my way from work Paris to Salzburg for the Easter Festival and was lucky enough to be invited to the Auberge de l’ill, which rests just south of Strasbourg in the sleepy town of Illhaeusern and is the creation of the renowned Haeberlin family.
Another visit was on the way to the Easter Festival at Baden-Baden, Simon Rattle having decamped from Salzburg to this spa town in Germany. There are easier ways to get to Baden Baden from Paris, but I promise you that a visit here is totally worth the effort. Again since then Simon Rattle has gone to London and Kirill Petrenko has taken over the Berlin Philharmonic and will be at Baden Baden next year, in 2019. Just in case you want to add this to your trip.
Awarded its 3rd Michelin star in 1967, this is a superb experience. You can’t think of it as just a gastronomic meal, everything is perfect, from the ambiance and restaurant itself to the friendly and welcoming service. Incredibly lucky with the weather this year we drove from Strasbourg to Illhaeusern on a cool but totally clear day. You couldn’t have a much more idyllic setting, with both the restaurant and the hotel leading straight on to the river. In the summer you can sit outside and have your drinks on the terrace.
I’m not of course a food critic, so I won’t wax too lyrical about what I had to eat other than to say that every bite was absolutely delicious. What I can say is that whatever you choose you won’t be disappointed – this is one of the very best restaurants in France which lives up to its reputation in every way. The meal goes on from one delicious course or treat to another, ending with perfect home-made (of course) chocolates that although you know you should resist you simply can’t. There’s very little that can be resisted here. Don’t bother to wear anything too tight girls – a little word of warning.
As you would expect the restaurant was full again, despite the fact that it is really out of the way, so if you decide you want to pay the Auberge de l’Ill a visit make sure you book well in advance. This time I stayed at the beautiful 5* Hotel des Berges attached to the restaurant by a short path and overlooking the river.
There are many places you can visit in France and have a good meal and stay somewhere locally – restaurants with room attached, hotels with great restaurants nearby, but very few where a 5* hotel has been built as an adjunct to the restaurant. This one is worth visiting on its own merits (although you’d be hard put to visit without going to the restaurant) and has been very cleverly designed. The furniture is very slightly quirky, every detail thought out, the beds seriously comfortable and the bathrooms filled with Hermes toiletries.
Breakfast is another feast, brioche and croissants, fresh fruit salad, charcuterie, cheese, eggs, creme brulee (yes really) and whatever else you request. And lest you think you’ll have eaten too much the night before to eat breakfast, forget about it…. something about the air, the place and being quite so beautifully indulged makes you want to sample everything.
Now they have added a spa to add to the Hotel des Berges – so you can eat breakfast, go to the spa, a walk along the river, coffee on the riverside and then start all over again. All in all this is an incredible treat and one well worth making the journey for. Find a seriously special occasion and go.
Auberge de l’Ill
2 Rue Collonges au Mont d'or
68970 Illhaeusern, France
Tel: + 33 (0)3 89 71 89 00
Hotel des Berges
Tel. : +33 (0)3 89 71 87 87
Email : email@example.com