On a hillside south of Altenberg, the Gasthof Barenfels is almost on the Czech border. It is set in the Osterzgebirge – the ‘Eastern mountain range’ south of Dresden – which, though not as well known as the Sachsische Schweiz Naional Park further west, is also wild, wooded and beautiful, and with spectaculr cliffs and rock formations. This chalet hotel has been a guesthouse since 1672, so is practiced at offering warmth and cosiness during the winter snows. Few dishes can be more warming than their roast venison in beer sauce with apple and red cabbage and noodles. As the snow melts to reveal a landscape of summer meadows and green woods, the menu becomes lighter and more international. Instead of eating beside the tiled stove in the rustic restaurant, with its parquet floor and wood ceiling, you might lunch in the round garden room with panormaic views of surrounding hills, or have an evening barbeqe on the terrace. On hot days it is a pleasure to sit out in the Biergarten.
The Kempe family maintains a friendly atmosphere, and their Gasthof is traditionally but very tastefully furnished and decorated. The bedrooms have rustic-style carved wood furniture – one has a four-poster bed – and six have stupendous views across the Barenfels hills.