Feature Destination Hockenheim Germany F1
The long history of motorsport in Germany means that the Grand Prix is taken very seriously and run with the slick efficiency you’d expect of the nation. With the success of local heroes in recent years – the Mercedes team, Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg – the Hockenheim F1 has become one of the season’s most atmospheric races. The surrounding natural splendor of the vast forest, cosy Hansel & Gretel style hotels and smart VIP race side facilities promise a unique and authentic experience.
To avoid Grand Prix traffic and arrive in style, you’re best advised to take a luxury, high-speed helicopter transfer from Frankfurt airport straight to Hockenheimring where you can check into the onsite hotel, Motodrom. Integrated into the main stand, directly on the start/finishing straight, the hotel is a popular option for racing fanatics and certainly the most convenient, but it lacks the rustic charm, tranquillity and indulgence of the residences found in the nearby town of Heidelberg. Sitting on the edge of the river Neckar, just a 20-minute drive from the racetrack, Heidelberg is one of Germany’s most romantic settings, rich with historic culture and threaded with pretty hiking trails that wind through the hills. Die Hirschgasse Heidelberg is the town’s oldest and most inviting hotel; set in a circa-1472 property a few minutes walk from the old town. The interiors are the perfect balance between cosy and luxurious with quaint shuttered windows, antique furniture and four-poster beds in the suites. There are two excellent restaurants one with an inbuilt museum and a fine dining option, Le Gourmet, serving excellent French Mediterranean cuisine. There’s wine tasting on offer too in the hotel’s cellar, after which you can sip your preferred tipple on the elegant rose terrace. Hotel Europäischer Hof Heidelberg is another of the town’s historic properties, housed in an opulent and expansive townhouse. The Panorama SPA club is the highlight facility – so called for its glorious views over the roofs of Heidlberg and the world-famous castle – with an inbuilt sauna, solarium and steam bath. Set in a wood panelled dining room, the hotel’s restaurant is popular with discerning gourmands, offering a rich, seasonal menu and impressive wine list, whilst the garden restaurant is the perfect dining option for a balmy summer’s evening.
The nearby town of Manneheim, in the Middle Rhine Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site is also worth visiting on an extended trip, particularly for the stunning vineyards in the surrounding area. The town is also renowned for its exciting social scene, bars and local breweries. The Stars bar in the city centre is most popular for its sophisticated menu of cocktails, and breath-taking 360-degree panoramic view of the city below.
Back by the race side, the Formula 1 Paddock is again the best VIP hospitality on offer with elegant lounges, in-house DJs, free-flowing bars and fine food. It’s here the drivers and A-list celebrities mingle, enjoying the race from a prime vantage point over the team garages and celebrating wins into the early hours. Exclusive ‘F1 Explained’ sessions will run throughout the weekend to explain the Grand Prix from first-hand insight and large screens will live preview the races with headphones to the commentary and team radio. For something different, Salon Monte Carlo located within the track’s onsite hotel, Motodrome also offers comfortable hospitality, with an excellent restaurant located above the circuit, privileged seats in the main grandstand and reserved VIP parking for guests.
When the day’s done follow the footsteps of the glitterati to the nearest Grand Prix private party or step into your private chauffeured car to be driven back to the serenity of your five star hotel for a peaceful night’s sleep, before jetting to the next destination.