It is strange to come back as a guest to the city I spent over 5 years at during my studies. A familiar air surrounds the “city of the squares” as Mannheim is commonly called in German (Quadratestadt). Among the familiar buildings, restaurants, cafés, and the university in the castle are areas still new and exciting, parts unknown and curious.
The opportunity to test the look and feel of the Speicher7 Hotel was provided by the invitation to the wedding of two dear friends. Based on where the navi system brought me it was hard to believe that I could find a place so interesting and beautiful. The waterfront area of the river Rhine in this part of Mannheim was no place to spend time during my university years. This has definitely changed today. The area still does not feel like a warm neighborhood, but it is a revitalized part of Mannheim with a fashionably industrial and posh feel.
The boutique hotel, designed and rebuilt by Schmucker and Partners on behalf of Jürgen Tekath and Thorsten Kraft, won the European Hotel Design Award for the category “Conversion of an Existing Non Hotel Building to Hotel Use” in 2013. The building, formerly a grain silo from the 1950s, had been unused for around 30 years before Jürgen Tekath took an interest in it. Tekath, already known well in Germany and Mannheim for his former projects Blumenladen Tekath, Café Flo, Mode Makassar and Café Lido had apparently been looking fore quite some time for a special location with his architect friend Thorsten Kraft to start a new project.
When speaking to the friendly receptionist Muhamed and hotel manager Annette (everyone is on first name basis here), I was told that Jürgen, an India and Yoga fan had travelled the world with his friend Thorsten to get ideas and inspiration for their hotel project.
When entering the hotel it is almost like entering a world unto itself. The lobby as well as restaurant and bar is in one large room surrounded by warm colors, ventilators on the ceilings, and leather sofas with lots of cushions. The walls are decorated with a large hodge-podge of items from all over the world. It has a rustic, industrial feel to it, but with the smoothness of a dreamy, oriental touch. You can spend days sitting in the lounge area and you will discover something new every minute. Even though it is full of things to see, it doesn’t feel overwhelming.
Each of the 20 rooms is individually designed and fitted with single elements that feel like they must have caught the eyes of the two designers on their world journeys. In our double room the desk was an old wooden workbench complete with the original vise grips and old wooden boxes for nightstands that gave the room warmth and a unique charm. The window was humongous, overlooking the street but no noise could be heard through the triple-glazed windows. The only downside was that you needed to put down the shades to prevent yourself from giving a free peepshow.
The bathroom is well equipped with bathrobes and slippers were provided by reception upon request. Rooms with cute names like “small storage” and “river room” are sized at 25m² to 37m² while the Nouvelle Vague and “harbor rooms” go up to 45m². Some bathrooms even have their own view over the Rhein. Apparently there are also rooms with the shapes maintained from the original building including a 12m high bathroom and a 6m high guestroom with a window of same height. The cooling and heating is provided by the photovoltaic-system on the southern façade and makes the hotel even more likable and environmentally friendly.
All rooms are furbished with COCO-MAT beds, which we already have come to like from the hotel we stayed at in Chania, Crete. The amenities include AESOP products and what I specifically liked was the fact that there is no unnecessary snick snack in the bathrooms.
The walls in the Speicher7 have remained in their original raw concrete state, but do not make you feel uncomfortably cool. Candles, flowers, Buddha pictures, and recycled items are thoughtfully placed in a mix that fully succeeds at making you feel relaxed and in the present moment. I guess it is the touch of yoga lover Jürgen. He couldn’t stop himself from including a yoga room and sauna for more deceleration and relaxation during the stay.
Breakfast is served in the big room (near reception) with an outdoor terrace overlooking the Rhein. The buffet offers standard choices, topped with a lovely arrangement. The lady serving breakfast, Gerlinde was so welcoming it was truly touching. She made it feel like she was a grande dame hosting you in her own home. It’s worth coming here for her treatment only.