Villa Menschikoff

9 images

Credit: Cr Engel & Völkers Baden-Baden

The bad life: the best properties to buy in Germany’s renowned spa towns

14 February 2024 • Written by Ruth Bloomfield

Ruth Bloomfield explores Germany's renowned spa towns, unpacking the many reasons to buy property here...

If anywhere in Europe can lay claim to being the birthplace of wellness it is Germany, where the wealthy have flocked to take the waters since antiquity. The country is home to three of Europe’s 11 UNESCO World Heritage spa town sites – Baden-Baden and the smaller towns of Bad Ems and Bad Kissingen – all an easy drive from Frankfurt Airport.

Venerable guests have included Mark Twain, who said he had “left his rheumatism” in Baden-Baden, and Marlene Dietrich, who described the town’s casino as the most beautiful in the world, as well as a trio of contemporary power couples: the Clintons, the Obamas and the Beckhams. Victoria Beckham recently told her Instagram followers that she and David visit yearly for an “annual MOT”, having “literally everything” checked out.

Villa Menschikoff, where Napoleon III was once entertained, occupies prime position, overlooking the Lichtentaler.
Credit: Engel & Völkers Baden-Baden

Baden-Baden’s international reputation (the name means “the baths of Baden”) is staked on its spas and clinics – you can visit the glamorous Friedrichsbad bathhouse or book a treatment at hotels such as the Belle Époque-era Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa – but there are other reasons to buy property here.

Those who wish to immerse themselves in nature have the 600,000-hectare Black Forest on the doorstep, and the town itself is both beautiful and useful, with an opera house and theatre, Michelin-starred restaurants and designer stores.

Villa Menschikoff sitting pretty in Oberursel.
Credit: Sotheby’s International Realty

“Even though the population is only 55,000 people, it is a very special place – a luxury city, an oasis with a lot of international flair,” says Peter Schürrer, managing director of Baden-Württemberg Sotheby’s International Realty.

Baden-Baden’s prime property is centred around Lichtentaler Allee, an exquisite park that snakes its way southwards from the town centre. Around it are a dozen or so streets lined with fairytale white stucco mansions.

Currently a hotel, the 13th-century Eberstein castle was a retreat for the Baden royal family until its sale in 2000.
Credit: Sotheby’s International Realty

The average asking price in Baden-Baden stands at €4,144 (£3,551) per square metre for houses and €3,457 per square metre for apartments, says Thomas Zabel, managing director of Savills Residential Agency Germany. But around Lichtentaler Allee, buyers can expect to pay upward of €10,000 per square metre and, since the houses are large, prices start at around €4 million.

These homes rarely come up for sale. Before the invasion of Ukraine they tended to end up in the hands of Russian owners. Today, says Schürrer, they may be bought by wealthy Germans as a main or holiday home, or by Swiss, Italian or American buyers. Those who intend to make Baden-Baden their permanent home tend to be families attracted by the good schools and retirees for whom the outstanding medical facilities appeal, he adds.

Credit: Sotheby’s International Realty

While Baden-Baden is an especially enticing location, buyers considering buying a property here – or, indeed, anywhere in Germany – for investment purposes may have missed the boat. After more than a decade of strong price growth the market flattened in 2023. “We had roughly 15 years of boom, with prices rising ten to 15 per cent in good locations every year,” says Zabel. “But since February 2022, with the war in Ukraine and then interest rates rising from 0.5 to 4.5 per cent, prices have fallen.”

His prognosis for the future is that prices have reached their lowest level in the prime Baden-Baden market, although he expects values to remain flat in the short and medium term.

Credit: Engel & Völkers Baden-Baden

Schürrer agrees that the power balance of the Baden-Baden market switched in 2023 from sellers to buyers, who now have a far greater choice of homes than in the recent past. He believes this imbalance will cause prices to stagnate this upcoming year, and three or four years beyond that.

Looking on the bright side, Zabel believes now is a good time for buyers to pick up a prestige property at a sensible price. “For buyers, entrance prices are cheaper than before, and they are not going to lose money over the next two years,” he says.

On the market:

A romantic Black Forest chateau in Gernsbach: 

Located 10km east of Baden-Baden, Schloss Eberstein was built in the 13th century and comes with 43 hectares of grounds, including gardens, forest and vineyards. Currently a boutique hotel, it could be converted into a spectacular 7,180m2 private home. €19.5 million,

A landmark eight-bedroom Art Nouveau mansion:

Built around 1835, this mansion is in the sought-after neighbourhood of Lichtentaler Allee in Baden-Baden. The property has retained many original features including stucco ceilings, marble fireplaces and a vaulted cellar, and comes with a separate guest house. €7.8 million,

A fairytale six-bedroom villa:

This fairytale six-bedroom villa set in mature gardens in the historic town of Oberursel, is just 14km north-west of Frankfurt and within easy reach of two of Germany’s most beautiful spa towns, Bad Ems and Bad Kissingen. The property has been in the same family for generations and is in need of modernisation. €3.184 million,

A 10-bedroom country house:

On the outskirts of Baden-Baden, this property comes with its own 37-hectare winery. POA,

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