Stein am Rhein, the historic town in which the Rheinfels stands, is so popular with tourists that many travellers avoid its narrow streets and ancient buildings altogether. The secret, of course, is to stay overnight; then you can enjoy the medieval atmosphere when the day-trippers have gone home.
  The Rheinfels sits on the river-bank next to the bridge; its terrace restaurant overhangs the water where ducks and swans amuse the diners who flock to enjoy Edi Schwegler's cooking. Whether it is fillets of sander, served with a delicate sorrel sauce, or char from the Rhine itself, Edi has a sure touch with fish. An avid hunter, he also serves game in season. The hotel itself is like a huge wooden galleon turned upside down, with stately timbers supporting the curved roof. Climb the stairs, which creak with every step, and full-size suits of armour and stuffed birds stare silently across the landing. Some of the bedrooms have been refurbished recently. Number 35 at the top, for example, has rosebud-patterned wallpaper, pink duvets and dark, old beams. A map of the village as it was in 1662 shows each house clearly numbered. The tiny windows look down to the river and bridge. All in all, the hold maintains its medieval feel.