Style mavens, design lovers and history aficionados watch out! Contemporary hotels are not all polished steel constructions with sparkling glass facades – Design Hotels introduces five member hotels located in centuries-old buildings that perfectly meld historic architecture with modern interior design. There’s something for every type of traveller: courageous adventurers can sneak through the secret 14th century staircases of The Three Sisters in Tallinn and maybe meet the souls of previous inhabitants; at the Gerbermuehle in Frankfurt, poets can discover the path of Goethe, who once stayed at this 1520’s building, and the myths of Arabian nights are revealed at the AnaYela in Marrakech, a 300 year old palace. An architectural journey through time begins and ends at the Widder, where medieval beams and Renaissance pillars meet glass ceilings and elevators. Das Triest in Vienna, designed by Sir Terence Conran, is truly rich in history, once being the stable for the horse-drawn postal link between Vienna and Trieste. However guests decide, they will experience a fusion of old and new in each of these hotels.
The Three Sisters
Located on Tallinn’s main street in the atmospheric Old Town, guests at The Three Sisters may feel like they have taken a step back into the past. Each of The Three Sisters’ 23 spacious rooms and suites is unique in shape and size due to its 14th century origins. The rooms offer sleek marble and granite bathrooms, and yet the building retains its old charm in original features, such as the intricate ceiling fresco that was discovered under 14 layers of paint and wallpaper. A two-year renovation breathed new life into the historic property, bringing contemporary design into its ancient walls, and highlighting its centuries of organic growth. Secret staircases and walkways connect a maze of different levels, each reflecting a different ‘sister’ – the younger and bohemian, the middle with classic charm and the contemporary and sophisticated older sister.
Originally a corn mill, this strikingly modern hotel in a 1520’s building sits peacefully on the southern bank of the River Main on the eastern outskirts of Frankfurt. Original and modern features create a stylish and varied interior, from the modern skyscraper feel of the lobby to the cosy stone-walled bar. The house’s old postbeam construction is never hidden, but is painted to match various rooms’ colour schemes, in a nod to sleek contemporaneity. The 19 bedrooms feature traditional dormer windows and open beams with modern technology including flat screen TVs. The old-world-meets-new atmosphere continues outdoors in the summer garden. An intense and well-documented romance began at the Gerbermuehle – it was here that seminal German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe met Marianne Willemer in 1814.
Once nine historical residences, the Widder Hotel’s original features have been lovingly preserved by Swiss architect Tilla Theus. Historical materials like original stone walls and coffered ceilings mix seamlessly with modern features such as steel pillars, metal beams, polished granite floors and Le Corbusier and Ray and Charles Eames furniture. Each house reflects an individual design based on its history and experience. Case in point is a glass roof atop a medieval stone house, or the integration of nine elevator banks, including one of glass and chrome that rises alongside an original city wall dating from the 12th century. The 49 guest rooms, each having its own layout and interior design, feature antique oil portraits, Renaissance murals, and even original paint and woodwork dating from medieval times as well as contemporary pieces by Warhol, Poliakov and Rauschenberg.
Das Triest, a former coach station on the route from Vienna to Trieste, was Vienna’s first design hotel as well as Sir Terence Conran’s very first foray into hotel design. Combining the traditional with the modern, this famous English designer shows off his skills to the full, combining the original features of this former coach house such as its vaulted ceiling with a modern interior of Artemide light fixtures and handcrafted furniture. The bathrooms have porthole windows, which, along with railings and flag motifs in the rest of the hotel, offer an emotional link to the Adriatic port of Trieste. Specially commissioned black-and-white photographs of Trieste and Vienna further celebrate a connection to the building’s historic role in international travel.
The AnaYela, located in the oldest part of the Medina of Marrakech, is a 300 year old former palace. The interior design is an homage to Moroccan culture and architecture: Its restoration was conducted using only traditional Moroccan craftsmanship, with over 100 artisans performing the work completely by hand, without the help of a single electric tool. Similarly, each piece of furniture and ornamentation of the five individually designed rooms and suites was personally created by owner Bernd Kolb and designer Yannick Hervy and then hand-crafted by a team of Moroccan artisans. But the AnaYela is much more than meets the eye, it is „a place of inspiration“, as Kolb describes it. With its unique holistic architectural concept all senses are addressed and subtly stimulated. It is a journey into the myths of Marrakech. Modern facilities such as an open-air cinema and state-of-the-art conference facilities give a luxurious modern feel to this unique traditional building.