The city of Dresden, the capital of the historically venerated German state of Saxony, is well under Europe’s tourism radar – but the city known as “Florence on the Elbe” deserves much wider recognition. History buffs may know it as the Axis target that was firebombed into near annihilation in World War II; remarkably, however, Dresden emerged from the rubble and ashes to become a center of architectural renaissance amid the natural beauty of Elbland.
In the heart of the rebuilt city, meanwhile, sits the stately Hotel Steigenberger de Saxe, the first in the luxury chain of hotels and resorts that now numbers 60 properties across Europe, the Mediterranean and North Africa. Founded as recently as 2006, the Dresden property underwent a major renovation in 2019, so that the premises may constantly live up to the company’s motto: “Upscale hotel culture and hospitality to perfection.”
Indeed, the Steigenberger radiates opulence from the moment one enters from the immaculate Neumarkt Square into the hotel’s expansive, glittering lobby. Enhanced by Roman-style statuary, the lobby and reception area represent a tasteful mix of modernity and tradition.
The impeccably uniformed front desk staff are extremely professional and efficient, thus living up to the standards of hotel culture and hospitality that aspire to perfection. It is always a pleasure to be greeted by name – and with a friendly smile – whenever you enter and exit the hotel.
Spacious guest units with all the creature comforts
The Hotel Steigenberger de Saxe contains 185 guest unts in five categories of rooms and two suite categories. Even the smallest rooms are quite sizable, coming in at an impressive 300 square feet.
The beds are extremely comfortable, with plush linens and duvets, as well as down pillows. There is, of course, an option for allergy-free foam pillows, plus your choice of large twin beds or king-sized bed.
All units are equipped with user-friendly climate control; large (49″) flat screen television with multi-channel and multi-lingual programming, plus radio and alarm clock functions; laptop-sized electronic safe for valuables; and a refreshment area comprising a mini-refrigerator, complimentary bottled water and electric kettle for making coffee or tea. To ensure a good night’s sleep, the windows are soundproof and may be completely darkened at bedtime.
Charging electronic devices is never a problem: the hotel provides converters upon request, there are built-in USB ports, and you can even plug your laptop into a dedicated socket located inside the room safe – an added convenience I especially enjoyed while I was out exploring. Naturally, free high-speed WiFi extends to all guest units, while the desks in the rooms also provide a LAN connection.
The deluxe bathrooms are outfitted on a par with the rooms, with dual showerheads, hair dryer, make-up mirror and a complete range of toiletry amenities, including dental kits. Disposable slippers complete the pampering environment, while posh bathrobes are included in the higher grade rooms.
Another extra when you splurge for a premium room is an espresso machine, and the treats get better the higher up you go: eventually, you get the minibar that is refilled gratis each night with a constant stream of goodies: cold drinks – including beer and wine – and salty snacks.
Start the day off right with a champagne breakfast
A good hotel is about much more than staying in your room, and the Steigenberger is no exception. Not surprisingly, for example, there is a business center, as well as a fitness room – albeit modestly equipped, with cardio machines and no weights.
Similarly, there is a spa area, also not with all the bells and whistles – a trio of saunas, but no pool or whirlpool bath. It is nonetheless possible to order from a limited menu of massages or beauty treatments.
One nice perk here that is not necessarily common to many downtown hotels is parking (for an extra charge). Moreover, the hotel is pet friendly, subject to prior arrangement.
And a particularly exceptional culinary experience at the Hotel Steigenberger de Saxe that is often merely ordinary elsewhere is the lavish breakfast buffet, complete with champagne. Indulge in the fresh juices, premium smoked meats and fish, breads and pastries, other hot and cold dishes and eggs made to order – or opt for a variety of healthy options, including gluten-free products. (Tip: I sometimes find there are some surprisingly tasty items lurking in the gluten-free corner.)
Last but not least, the location of the hotel is unbeatable. For starters, it is just across the plaza from the Frauenkirche (the Church of Our Lady), one of Dresden’s major attractions, while other architectural gems in the baroque Old Town, painstakingly rebuilt to replicate what had existed prior to the city’s destruction in 1945, are just a 10-minute stroll away, along a passageway flanked by the unforgettable Procession of Princes mural. (At the end of your leisurely walk, The Semper Opera House is worth seeing both inside and out, preferably while attending a stirring evening musical performance.)
The Steigenberger is also just steps away from the Royal Palace, with its amazing treasure vaults, in one direction, and the Elbe River in the other, with splendid views of the terraced vineyards on the opposite bank. And since the hotel is also right next to a hub of Dresden’s extensive tramway system, virtually anywhere in the city — and even beyond, such as to the pleasant and relaxing Schloss Wackerbarth Winery — is within easy and swift reach.
Rates at the Hotel Steigenberger de Saxe start at around USD $185, excluding breakfast, which is available at a discount after joining the H Rewards loyalty program free of charge. Check the hotel’s website for a slew of special offers or compare prices at third-party booking sites such as Booking.com or Expedia.
Text and photos by Buzzy Gordon, who was hosted at Hotel Steigenberger de Saxe by the Dresden Tourism Board. As always, the opinions expressed are his own. (See another review by this author of a hotel just a couple of hours’ drive away, yet in an entirely different country.)