While I was among the first to experience the Germany-Singapore VTL, I spent a grand total of less than 80 hours in Munich. It was after all, a work trip more than anything else, and I was flying solo.
As much as I’d have liked to bring the Milelioness with me, I figured it might be prudent to recce the on-ground situation first. And having done so, I can say that for anyone who misses pre-COVID life, a trip to Germany (or any of the other VTL countries in Europe or North America for that matter) could be just what the doctor ordered.
After witnessing firsthand how daily life has (almost) returned to normal over there, I couldn’t wait to come back for a proper vacation. My last trip with the Milelioness, come to think of it, was more than two years ago, and we had to make up for lost time.
What better place to do that than on The Romantic Road?
|🏰 The Romantic Road|
|🇸🇬 Singapore- Germany VTL 🇩🇪|
|Before You Go|
|VTL: Complete Guide|
What is the Romantic Road?
A tourist trap. But a very lovely one, I should add.
It all started in the 1950s, when war-torn Germany was looking to rebuild its tourism industry. Planners were eager to rehabilitate the country’s image by showcasing its rich culture and history, Medieval architecture, majestic castles, hilly landscapes and sprawling vineyards.
The resulting Romantic Road, or Romantische Straße as it’s known in Germany, runs 460km from Wurzburg to Fussen, linking 29 picturesque settlements. Along the route are various UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the famous Neuschwanstein castle (from which Walt Disney drew inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s castle in Disneyland), storybook towns like Rothenburg, Dinkelsbühl and Nördlingen, and the lush Franconian wine region.
Early visitors to the Romantic Road were friends and family of American GIs stationed in West Germany, but today it attracts visitors the world over- so much so there are signs in Japanese.
Call it a sell out if you will, but you know what; if you want to be a hipster, go to Berlin. The Romantic Road is unapologetically manufactured, and that’s just the way I like it.
I mean, if it’s good enough for Novita Lam…
|✈️ The Romantic Road: Flights|
|To Frankfurt||To Singapore|
Dep: SIN 2355
Arr: FRA 0645 (+1)
Dep: FRA 2155
Arr: SIN 1715 (+1)
|Per Person: 312,000 KrisFlyer miles + S$245|
My original plan was to fly into Frankfurt, spend a couple of days there, rent a car and drive the Romantic Road, spend a couple of days in Munich, then fly home.
I don’t think that adds much value from a content perspective, so instead we’ll follow the route above, then take a train/domestic flight back to Frankfurt on the last day…in order to fly home in First Class.
Yes, Singapore Airlines offers First Class on SQ325, the designated VTL flight from Frankfurt. While I’ve reviewed this product before, it was (1) on a medium-haul flight, and (2) pre-COVID. So I figure there’s something interesting to write about here, at least much more than another A350-900 Business Class review.
It didn’t come cheap. Only Advantage awards were available, which cost 220,000 miles each way. All in, I paid 312,000 miles + S$245 per person. Trust me- I had to do some major mental gymnastics to justify that, ranging from:
- it’s quality time with the wife!
- it’s all the miles we would have spent on trips over the past 20 months anyway!
- the people need a post-COVID First Class review!
|◀️ Why not do the reverse?|
In an ideal world, we’d fly First Class from Singapore to Frankfurt, and Business Class from Munich to Singapore, avoiding the need to double back. However, the timing of SQ326 to Frankfurt doesn’t work for us, hence the need to do it the other way round.
For those who want a glimpse of the newly-opened First Class section inside the temporary SilverKris Lounge, do check out this post.
SQ26 from Singapore to Frankfurt will be operated by an A350-900, and I don’t plan to do a full review of this product again. That said, I managed to snag a bulkhead seat in Row 19 (which lets you lie straight instead of diagonally), so at most I’ll do a mini-review of the bulkhead experience.
|🏨 The Romantic Road: Hotels|
|1-2||Capri by Fraser Frankfurt||Free (voucher)|
|3-7||Various||Avg. <S$200 per night|
|8||Sofitel||12,000 Accor Points + €18|
|9||Hotel Munchen Palace||S$51|
(nett of S$400 travel credit)
|10||Hilton Munich City||43,000 Hilton points|
On this trip, I’ll need a total of 10 nights of accommodation. Ironically, it’s the hotels outside the major cities that will cost me more, since I have ways and means of saving in Frankfurt and Munich.
Capri by Fraser Frankfurt
One of the perks of the AMEX Platinum Reserve (which I hold for free, thanks to my AMEX Platinum Charge card) is an annual 2-night voucher at selected Frasers Hospitality Properties worldwide.
I pretty much wasted my voucher last year, but this time round I can redeem it at the Capri by Fraser Frankfurt. This serviced apartment ranks surprisingly high (#13 of 301 hotels on TripAdvisor), and if nothing else, saves me the cost of two nights’ accommodation.
It’s also walking distance from a Chipotle (yes, they have it in Germany).
Along the Romantic Road, we’ll be staying at a range of independent hotels- I basically looked at the top few on TripAdvisor and booked the one that gave me the best vibe.
- Wurzburg: Mercure Hotel Wuerzburg
- Rothenburg: Burghotel
- Augsburg: Hotel Maximilian’s
- Fussen: Hotel Muller
The one I’m particularly excited about is Hotel Maximilian’s a 5-Star property right smack in the centre of Augsburg,
While it’s housed in a building more than 300 years old, the interiors are anything but dated. 132 modern rooms, a Michelin-starred restaurant, and daily champagne breakfast. Sold.
Sofitel Munich Bayerpost
Despite my less-than-stellar experience at the Kempinski Munich last time round, I actually considered visiting again (if only for the breakfast)…until they somehow succeeded in annoying me further.
After my previous stay where a staff member happily waltzed into my room while I was bathing, left something on the table and waltzed out, I used the post-stay survey to send some strong feedback. The hotel’s director of rooms apologised via email, and asked for another chance to make it right.
So I replied and said I’d be back in Munich in late October, and he said he’d be happy to arrange a special rate for me. I gave him the dates…and he came back with a price that was higher than the official website. I called him out on it, he apologised and said it was an innocent mistake, but it was just ridiculous. I’m not giving Kempinski Munich another Euro.
That’s how I ended up at the Sofitel Munich Bayerpost instead. I have a good-sized stash of Accor points thanks to last year’s SCB X Card transfer bonus; half were spent at the Raffles Hotel, and I’m itching to use the rest. A breakfast-inclusive rate cost €258, and I used 12,000 Accor points to offset €240 from the bill.
The Sofitel is located next to Munich’s central railway station, and seems to have solid enough reviews.
Hotel Munchen Palace
I was actually considering the Hotel Munchen Palace for my previous VTL trip, but figured that since time was at a premium, I should pick a hotel closer to the Marienplatz old town area. The Hotel Munchen Palace isn’t ulu by any means, but it’s certainly further away.
What it lacks in location, it makes up everywhere else. This is the #2 ranked hotel in Munich, set in a lush garden with just 89 rooms. Service is supposedly impeccable, with upscale amenities and a fully outfitted spa. Oh, and they serve a champagne breakfast too (sensing a trend here?).
I booked this hotel through the AMEX Travel portal, using my Platinum Charge’s S$400 hotel credit to offset the S$451 breakfast-included rate.
I’ll be visiting the temporary SilverKris Lounge at Changi once again, so you can refer to my previous report for the full details.
I will be taking this opportunity to review a few additional lounges too.
SATS Premier Lounge Terminal 3
If you’re a no-status passenger flying Economy out of Terminal 3, the SATS Premier Lounge is the only Priority Pass/DragonPass/Lounge Key option at the moment. I figure that’s reason enough to give it a proper review.
|Update: The Ambassador Transit Lounge reopened on 15 October 2021 and operates from 1500 to 2300 hrs daily, which presents another option.|
I actually popped my head in on my previous trip to Germany, and spoiler alert: it’s much better than I expected, with new furniture and plenty of seating. The food and drink won’t be exceptional, but it’s not like there’s a lot going on elsewhere in the terminal…
Our flight from Singapore lands in Frankfurt at the unearthly hour of 6.45 a.m, and since it’s too early to do anything, I figured we might as well freshen up a bit.
Priority Pass members can access an arrivals lounge in Frankfurt Terminal 1 called the LuxxLounge. The photos aren’t inspiring, but I’m not expecting much here. So long as the showers are clean and the coffee hot, I think I’ll be more than satisfied.
Lufthansa Senator Lounge Frankfurt
Even though I’m flying First Class out of Frankfurt, there’s no fancy lounge for me. Lufthansa’s First Class terminal and lounges are reserved for their own passengers; everyone else is sent to very ordinary Senator Lounge.
While I’ve reviewed the Senator Lounge in Frankfurt before, it might be good to do an updated review (1) with a better camera (when I see my photos from previous years I die a bit inside), and (2) post-COVID.
I’ve written a separate post on travel insurance with COVID-19 coverage, but as a refresher, the key things you’ll want to be covered for are:
- COVID-19 medical expenses
- COVID-19 emergency evacuation
- COVID-19 quarantine (a positive test in Germany generally means self-isolation for 5-14 days in a hotel)
I was looking at a plan that cost no more than $150 for 13 days (annoyingly, I depart Singapore at 2355 hours, which means I need to purchase an extra day of insurance), and found the following:
(Per Day | Cap)
|AIG Travel Guard (Standard)||S$142||S$100K||S$50 | S$700|
|AIG x SIA||S$149||S$350K||S$200 | S$2,800|
|Aviva (Prestige)||S$100#||S$20K||S$100 | S$2,000|
|AXA Smart Traveller (Comp.)||S$154||S$150K||S$50 | S$700|
|NTUC Income (Deluxe)||S$139||S$150K||None|
|Sompo COVID-19 (Essential)||S$132||S$100K||S$50 | S$700|
|*35% off with code noworries|
^Can claim under Trip Interruption; S$500 per day for 5 days max.
#18% discount with code TRAVEL18 plus 30% discount for MINDEF Group Term Life policyholders
Aviva seems to be the right choice again, given it’s much more likely (though hopefully low in absolute terms!) that I’ll need quarantine allowance rather than medical treatment.
However, the AIG policy sold in conjunction with Singapore Airlines might also be worth a look, since it offers an allowance of S$200 per day in the event of quarantine.
To be clear: you only need to buy travel insurance for the intended duration of your trip. If a covered incident occurs that causes an extension to your trip, you will still receive coverage. You can find this in your policy wording under “automatic extensions” or some similar title.
|Example: AXA Smart Traveller|
Your insurance cover will automatically be extended without additional premium for:
(a) up to 30 days if You are Hospitalised (or placed under compulsory quarantine) while Overseas upon the written advice of a Doctor or the local government authority in the case of a Quarantine Order; or
(b) up to 72 hours if You are unable to complete Your trip as planned due to Public Transport delays that are not Your fault.
A driving holiday in Germany is a rare chance for us Singaporeans to hit triple digit speeds, and means you’ll really want to get your hands on a nice ride (with all due respect to Toyota, it’s not something you associate with the autobahn).
If you need evidence that things are getting back to normal in Europe, just look at car rental prices. Most agencies wanted >US$100 a day for a compact automatic (yes, I can only drive automatic).
Fortunately, I was able to snag a much more reasonable rate of ~S$490 for a 6 day rental with Europcar. I’ve booked what’s called a “compact elite”, supposedly an Audi A1 or similar. I know enough about rental cars to be suspicious of “or similar”, but we’ll just have to see how it goes.
If it counts for anything, I emailed Europcar and managed to get my Sixt Platinum status matched to Privilege Elite, the second highest tier in the programme. This comes with a double category upgrade, plus a free additional driver.
That’s the game plan for The Romantic Road, which should hopefully provide a more relaxing trip than my previous 80-hour Germany sprint!
If there’s aspects of VTL travel to Germany I didn’t answer in my previous report, feel free to ask them below.
Done the Romantic Road before? Any must-sees?