There is a certain thrill about staying in a castle, which is why we continue to include this large medieval pile in the attractive village of Deutschlandsberg, deep in the country. With its drawbridge and foreboding gateways, there are still echoes of the battles fought centuries ago with the Turks and Hungarians.
   Once inside the massive walls, however, there is surprising comfort. The Schicks bought the fortress back in 1989 and turned it into a meeting place for locals as well as tourists. In 1994, they added most of the comforts demanded by international travellers. In 2005, the hotel was taken over by Jasmin and Karl Kollmann, who have recently refurbished all the rooms. Although there are some antiques, most of the furniture is refreshingly simple. Some rooms boast hand-painted country furniture, others have more contemporary fabrics. The restaurant, once the Rittersaal, or Knights Hall, is impressive, with a massive beamed ceiling. The bar has a history of its own, since it once graced the Steirerhof Hotel, a landmark in Graz. Despite the veneer of history, the atmosphere is relaxed and guests enjoy their surroundings.