Intelligent luxury for an escape from the city

The new Hotel Fritz in Lauterbad in the Black Forest offers urban design in a spectacular location. The seating furniture was supplied by Rolf Benz.

“The old Hotel Zollernblick was always a phenomenon for us,” explains Steffen Schillinger, founder of the new Hotel Fritz Lauterbad. “Although it didn’t offer any particular luxury, it attracted a lot of affluent weekend guests who simply appreciated the fantastic location in the Black Forest.” At some point Schillinger, who comes from a family of hoteliers himself, had the opportunity to purchase the Zollernblick in Lauterbad. Right from the start, it was clear that a lot would have to change. Yet the basic concept was retained, with the spectacular location between forest and valley and appealing prices to tempt guests from nearby big cities.

The idea: a big-city standard of design combined with rustic homeliness. “During the planning stage, we always described our objective as ‘urban soul meets Black Forest’,” explains Schillinger – an ambitious intention with far-reaching consequences. “The hotel needed another name to highlight the new start.” And it needed to be easy for foreign guests to pronounce too – “‘Zollernblick’ was very difficult for the Americans and Chinese in particular.” However, the “Fritz”, as it was christened, signified a bold new phase in structural terms as well. Only the heritage-listed older building, a historic Black Forest house, was preserved. The large wing of rooms built in the 1950s was replaced with an architecturally impressive new structure. For this, Schillinger brought on board architecture firm archis from Karlsruhe. Together with the firm’s managing director Bastian Wieland, Schillinger developed a building that managed to integrate sympathetically into the landscape without resorting to Black Forest clichés.

The new glazed lobby, which links the old and new buildings, constitutes the center of the Hotel Fritz. This is the heart of the building, as Schillinger describes it. For the furnishings, both developer and architect put their trust in another partner who was likewise part of the project almost from Day One: upholstered furniture specialist Rolf Benz from Nagold, located barely 30 kilometers from the Fritz. “Back when we were preparing for a joint event, I told the people in charge at Rolf Benz about my vision for the old Hotel Zollernblick. They were immediately excited by it and said straightaway that they would be willing to help me,” explains Schillinger. Rolf Benz subsequently furnished the entire hotel with its products.

In the Fritz’s lobby there is comfortable seating and lounge furniture, in keeping with the various functions of the space. “The lobby has to function well during both the day and the night,” explains architect Wieland. “Hence, in the morning the bar area can also be used for breakfast, and in the evening the bar guests enliven the other areas of the lobby too.” In thematic terms too, however, the furniture fits perfectly in the hotel. “We took inspiration from the colors and materials from the surrounding landscape and the forest on the doorstep, which you can almost reach out and touch through the panoramic window,” says Steffen Schillinger, explaining the furniture design. The high quality and the naturalness of the leather and materials are also immediately apparent.

The rooms and the suites of the Fritz feature “Rolf Benz 684” and “freistil 173” armchairs, the “freistil 175” sofa, and the “Rolf Benz 8480” and “Rolf Benz 973” side tables, among others. The “Rolf Benz 650” chair are deployed in various versions, not only in the guest rooms, but also in the bar, the restaurant, the function room, and in stackable form in the hotel’s meeting room.

The quality and sheer craftsmanship of the materials used by Rolf Benz continue to impress Wieland, who places great emphasis on material qualities in all of his projects. “Material – for me that always means sincerity,” he says, explaining his approach, and Steffen Schillinger agrees: “For me, Rolf Benz has always represented this sense of true value.” The basic idea of wanting to offer the customer genuine value is something that these two Black Forest businesses have in common, making the furniture manufacturer and the new hotel ideal partners.

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by Rolf Benz

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