Tag Archives: design

Speicher7 – The reinvention of an industrial silo as a ‘nouvelle vague’ vintage hotel

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.

http://www.speicher7.com/en/

 

Fatma Hanoum Boutique Hotel – Eastern fairy tale in Crete

The driving style of the Kriti (locals) is just one of the many surprises that await you when arriving in Crete. You will see plenty of European tourists, mostly from France or Russia, and many big hotels along the marvelous beaches. But one thing that will be special even among all of the other surprises on the island, is a little boutique hotel called Fatma Hanoum Boutique Hotel in Chania.

If you are planning to stay in Chania then the Fatma hotel is an absolute must as you really will not find anything like it in the world.
The Fatma Hanoum Boutique Hotel in the Jewish Distric Palia Poli of Chania takes you on a journey into the past.

Owners Giorgos and Marianna have managed to create a real thousand and one night fairytale with the help of local architect Dany Droianos that combines Ottoman and Venetian architecture with eastern elements including a great choice of lightning, oriental carpets, soft fabrics and high tech facilities. The concept, from the hotel’s name to the name of each of the rooms makes you feel as if you are being taken by the hand of Fatma herself into an enchanting and unique world.

The hotel, opened 3 years ago, has undergone a massive renovation. Evidence of this can be seen in the elegant entrance area, the breakfast room and the each of the 6 rooms.

Wood, stone, and glass are harmoniously combined with modern furniture and high quality products such as the i-compatible stereo, espresso machine, and the beds of Coco-Mat (natural sleep products) complete with Tempurpedic pillows. They have also included small details like essential supplies deviantly hidden in the drawers.

We stayed in the Yildiz room for the first few nights, which I personally chose because of my favorite color: green. Isolated on the second floor with it’s an own roof terrace, Yildiz is just as beautiful in reality as displayed on the hotel’s website. But then, the same could be said for all of the rooms.

Our last night (which we added after our initial booking) we stayed in the Yasmin Suite. This suite has a maisonette type room with the bed up on a mezzanine level. Like the other rooms, the wood and glass is nicely blended into the interior as well as the lighting. The only thing missing was a dedicated balcony extending out over Skoufon street. Even without the balcony, you still can admire the view through the windows and the shared roof terrace just outside the door is plenty large.

My personal favorite and the room I would book next time is the Güzel. This wide open room welcomes you in green with a small balcony overlooking the indoor patio and a walk through closet that leads to the large bathroom decorated in both green and blue with a beautiful period bathtub shielded by a glass wall.

Breakfast is served in a sunlit atrium with a beautifully placed pebble stone floor and two cozy oriental niches in the background. The buffet is set-up with a love for detail, offering local products like dakos, cheese pie, and yogurt – a certified original Greek Breakfast.

Of special note is the hostess Marianna. She really made us feel welcome and fulfilled all of our wishes. This includes everything from the morning coffee to suggestions for excellent restaurants in Chania, the surrounding mountains, or even locations as far as the most northeastern part of Crete. Her sunny and charming manner from the first moment you step into the Fatma Hotel, to the last minute, when leaving is exceptional.

Tips:

  • Book a massage with Rita
  • Eat at the  tavern Glossitses

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