We have been midway to the spa when one thing stopped us. We’d been padding alongside in slippers and pastel-coloured towelling robes, staring idly on the snowy mountains outdoors. After which we heard it. The sound of a violin: just a few snatched phrases, hovering, uplifting, damaged up by quick intervals of silence. Anyone with appreciable talent was practising. Within the resort.
Later that morning, having loved a soaking within the largest hammam this aspect of Istanbul, we wandered previous the primary staircase in our resort’s reception. A household was gathered on the steps, chatting. The patriarch – a person in his 70s with wild gray hair – carried a cello on his again. We’d seen him the night time earlier than, the person with the cello. Enjoying Brahms, Schumann and Schubert, accompanied by his proficient youngsters, the youngest a boy of 14.
Plenty of accommodations placed on music, and far of it is rather good certainly. However there’s one thing totally different concerning the musicians at Schloss Elmau. They don’t sit ignored at a keyboard within the resort bar. They aren’t inexperienced persons, beginning out in hope of a shiny profession, and so they’re not washed up, both. They’re the perfect on the planet, and so they carry out in a powerful 300-seat live performance corridor.

Musical interlude: a night efficiency within the resort’s live performance corridor. {Photograph}: Schloss Elmau
I got here to see them – and to benefit from the mountains, snow and spa – with my teenage daughter. My father, a classical music devotee, had been madly jealous once I instructed him the place we have been going. And my daughter’s college German instructor knew all concerning the place, exclaiming: “Ah, Schloss Elmau!”
The cellist with the wild hair was Mischa Maisky, a Soviet-born maestro. The kids who performed with him have been Lily, Sascha and Maximilian. Watching them make music collectively – for about an hour plus an encore – was a large deal with, combining good craft and expression with an intimacy and exclusivity that no public live performance ever matched. We watched it from a window seat. And two days later Maisky carried out extra formally with an orchestra.
Schloss Elmau is ready within the foothills of Germany’s highest summit, Zugspitze, 90 minutes from Munich and 45 minutes from Innsbruck. It was in-built 1914 by Dr Johannes Mueller, a theologian and thinker, as a refuge for writers and artists, and kind of ever since then it has staged great musical occasions.

Pole place: skiers setting off. {Photograph}: Schloss Elmau
By 1957, it had turn out to be finest identified for chamber music: the legendary Amadeus Quartet, Benjamin Britten, Julian Bream, Yehudi Menuhin and Alfred Brendel are just some who carried out right here. Today, an eclectic mixture of world-class classical and jazz performers placed on a number of concert events each week (there are round 220 concert events a yr).
We arrived marginally too late to listen to the nice Russian pianist Grigory Sokolov, and the English tenor Ian Bostridge would carry out simply after we left – singing authentic songs with American pianist Brad Mehldau (whom he met on the resort in 2016). However that’s the way it goes at Schloss Elmau: the schedule is so stellar that you just’re at all times going to really feel you may miss one thing thrilling.
Thoughts you, if I’m trustworthy, I had my doubts upfront concerning the jazz night time. I’ve a little bit of a deaf ear for jazz however even right here I used to be thrilled: 4 well-known European jazz musicians got here collectively, calling themselves “four Wheel Drive”, to present an unforgettable interpretation of songs by Paul McCartney, Billy Joel and Sting.

Close by attraction: the city of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. {Photograph}: Roman Babakin/Getty Pictures
Performing elsewhere, a lot of the musicians would cost a fortune, however at Schloss Elmau they don’t get any cash in any respect. As an alternative, they play to remain – visiting the resort, normally for 4 or 5 days, as a result of they like to carry out right here (and maybe additionally fairly just like the spa and eating places). For the remainder of us, concert events are included within the room charge. And there’s no must e-book: simply wander as much as the live performance corridor after dinner.
The principle citadel, constructed by Mueller, was lately remodelled by his grandson, Dietmar Mueller-Elmau, following a hearth in 2005. We stayed within the Retreat, the latest addition, an ultra-modern resort with floor-to-ceiling image home windows which let the clear mountain mild stream in. An Asian-style decor and elephant theme runs by means of the resort – a nod to Dietmar’s love of the Indian elephant and its reference to knowledge.
BBC World Information, after we caught a glimpse of it, was filled with Brexit, which pointed up the sense that we have been staying in considered one of continental Europe’s cultural excessive spots. In addition to music, there have been books in all places – in German and English. There are peaceable libraries and an unlimited bookshop – stocking the whole lot from Tintin to Kant – with leather-based chairs in cosy nooks and beanbags for the youngsters.

Hidden luxurious: the resort’s spa. {Photograph}: Schloss Elmau
That is the place Angela Merkel selected to host the 2015 G7 summit. In an idle second, I checked out the images from that point. The photographs present smiling Merkel, Obama, Cameron, Hollande, Tusk, Juncker within the room used for yoga. Within the grounds, Obama sat on a bench chatting to Merkel, who had her arms outstretched within the now well-known Sound of Music image.
An American journal referred to as this “The Pondering Particular person’s Wellness Lodge”, and I’m not going to argue. The 2 spas – one in every of the 2 adjoining buildings – are so huge we misplaced our method each time we visited. There are outside swimming pools with views of the mountains, some with salt water, others with recent; cold and hot; swimming pools for households and others only for adults – and extra saunas and steam rooms (each bare and clothed) than I used to be in a position to keep in mind. There’s additionally a formidable Jivamukti yoga centre operating with twice each day lessons, pilates, qi gong and a marvellous – if barely scary – physician of Chinese language medication, Dr Imke Koenig, who gave me a stern speaking to about not stress-free sufficient. The truth is, as a result of I used to be affected by a foul chilly, she banned me from becoming a member of her pilates class, insisting that I spend the remainder of my keep resting below cowl of a blanket.

And breathe: a yoga class. {Photograph}: Crikri/Schloss Elmau
Which, to be truthful, wasn’t an disagreeable prospect. The snow was super-thick after we stayed (the results of dramatic blizzards in January), however the solar was sizzling and the skies dazzlingly shiny. On the balconies and terraces silence was interrupted solely by birdsong and the push of a mountain stream. I’d love to return again, later within the yr, and see the meadows in flower.
As for meals: breakfast is wholesome in that basic Alpine method – chunky rye breads and cheese, yogurt and nuts. There are a dozen eating places – an Alpine stubli for fondue, a connoisseur Thai, Mediterranean buffets and a Michelin-starred restaurant when you’re so inclined.
Many visitors mix a cultural and spa stick with snowboarding: there’s a shuttle bus each day to the close by slopes and a youngsters’s snowboarding membership each morning. My daughter took a brisk cross-country snowboarding lesson one afternoon on the pristine snow surrounding the resort. However aside from that we stayed inside.

Arms talks: Angela Merkel with Barack Obama on the G7 summit at Schloss Elmau in 2015. {Photograph}: Michael Kappeler/AP
It appears a bit naughty to return to the Alps and by no means depart the resort grounds. However there’s merely an excessive amount of to take pleasure in right here to consider going elsewhere.
One afternoon, my daughter and I went for a therapy within the enormous hammam. We lay on the heated stone to be scrubbed and cleaned with a scented foam and afterwards, wrapped in fluffy towels as we sipped jasmine tea and nibbled Turkish delight, she stated she by no means wished to depart. Job finished.
Therapeutic Holidays (healingholidays.co.uk; 020 7843 3597) provides a three-night keep from £899pp sharing, which incorporates flights, transfers and half-board lodging, plus two each day yoga lessons, concert events and entry to the spa (schloss-elmau.de)
5 extra accommodations with music on the menu
The Fort, Somerset This historic Taunton resort has been internet hosting chamber music weekends for years, attracting British and worldwide ensembles. Latest weekends have seen performances by chamber music royalty the Nash Ensemble, performing the nice English composers Britten, Bridge and Elgar, and a lecture by composer and author Misha Donat.• Rooms from £140, the-castle-hotel.com
The Bedford, London This massive outdated pub in Balham, south London, has been a showcase for brand spanking new expertise because it opened in 1931, together with the Conflict and, extra lately, Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith, who performed free-entry gigs in its Membership Room. Now, after an intensive refurbishment, it additionally provides reasonably priced boutique bedrooms.• Rooms from £89, thebedford.com
Lodge Orania, Berlin A luxurious resort within the laidback Kreuzberg space of the town, the Orania has an eclectic environment which extends to its concert events. Classical music occasions happen within the resort’s salon each Tuesday and Thursday, programmed by pianist Julien Quentin, who has made Kreuzberg his dwelling. Native and worldwide musicians carry out a mixture of classical and up to date classical music.• Rooms from £140, orania.berlin
The Bushmills Inn, County Antrim You’ll discover open turf fires, a non-public cinema room and pleasingly mismatched interiors reflecting an extended and different historical past at this conventional resort on the Antrim coast. Ten minutes’ stroll from the Previous Bushmills Distillery and 4 miles from the unimaginable Big’s Causeway, it’s a spot steeped in historical past, not least in its bar, which remains to be lit by gasoline and hosts conventional Irish music periods each Saturday night time from 8.30pm till late.• Rooms from £120, bushmillsinn.com
Q Manufacturing unit, Amsterdam Describing itself as Europe’s largest music-making centre, this complicated of rehearsal rooms, live performance venues and inventive hubs has lately expanded to incorporate a resort. Rooms are homey and easy, with earth tones and vegetation to mirror an ethos of eco-awareness, whereas the acts who carry out at Q Stage vary from Korean hiphop to jazz fusion on any given night time.• Rooms from £98, q-factory-amsterdam.nl