The big question? Is the Hotel Altstadt a Hotel, Museum or Art Gallery? The answer is all three. When people talk about distinctive and stylish hotels this has to be at the top of any list for European hotels. I can think of no other hotel that I have visited that has such an impact on the senses and the power to bring you on a journey of discovery.
To be honest I personally found the entrance to be a little unprepossessing. The reason is that you go through the front door and enter a vast cavern of empty space which doesn’t impress. And yet, it clears your head for the next element. You can then either choose to walk up the majestic stairs or take the lift to the first floor where your real journey begins.
The Reception is located on the first floor. Also on this floor are the Salons; the Red Salon and Lisa’s Salon. One room leads to another so that you are enticed as though entering a wonderland of colour and eclecticism. Sofas and chairs appear to come to life and almost beg you to take a seat. Your journey now becomes an exciting reality.
Bedrooms: There are 62 bedrooms in the Hotel Altstadt. When I stayed there in its early days there were 24 rooms but the visionary owner, Otto Wiesenthal, already had his future plans laid out in his mind’s eye. He already had an extensive art collection at this time. Since then he actually has enough to qualify the hotel as an actual Art Gallery.
Several bedrooms are located on this first floor. Most of the bedrooms are on the upper floors of this historic building. Here the vast corridors are almost larger than the bedrooms themselves. They were obviously designed to accommodate ladies with their voluminous crinoline dresses. They are spaciously wide with very high ceilings so the feeling of being in a Museum or Art Gallery is strong. This feeling is further emphasised by a plethora of contemporary art adorning the walls. Be warned it will take a while to reach your bedroom as you cannot help but stop to soak in the atmospheric surrounds.
On entering any of the individually named bedrooms you will not be disappointed. More art awaits and in some rooms, which have had makeovers by renowned artists, architects and designers, you will be blown away.
Imagine sleeping in a bedroom designed and decorated by the world-famous architect Matteo Thun or fashion star, Atil Kutoğlu. These rooms have strong colour accents in many colour hues including bolus red and bright turquoise. Other rooms showcase Swarovski crystals; damask wallpaper; an emerald divan by Patrycja Domanska, a chandelier sculpture from the pen of design studio Chmara Rosinke; a high table made of tree trunks by Sebastian Menschhorn belong to the inspired and eloquent aesthetics of these rooms. You are now immersed into a work of art so lie back and enjoy your time being a focal point in a creative tour de force. I do not exaggerate.
Since I was there Otto has opened up his Rooftop Terrace and I have it on very good authority that it is an eloquent addition to the hotel. Despite not serving formal lunch or dinners, this is a very discreet venue to chill out and enjoy afternoon tea or a delicious cocktail. Otto has been joined by his two daughters who clearly share the same vision as he does. It is not in the least surprising that this distinctive hotel is a haven for art and culture lovers. It is literally in a class of its own and nothing like it in any other country that I have visited.