Hotel Fritz Lauterbad
Urban Soul meets Black Forest
When it comes to stylish design hotels, you automatically think of vibrant metropolises such as Berlin, Munich, Hamburg or Frankfurt. But Freudenstadt? Very few people would think of this peaceful little town in the Black Forest. That will change, Steffen Schillinger must have thought to himself when he bought the out-dated “Waldhotel Zollernblick” in Freudenstadt-Lauterbad back in 2016 with the aim of realising his vision of a hotel that combines big-city design with Black Forest comfort.
Under the banner of “Urban Soul meets Black Forest”, the building complex transformed itself within three years into a modern flagship hotel that meets the highest design requirements both inside and out. The hotel was opened under the new name “Hotel Fritz Lauterbad” in July 2019. We spoke to Hotel Manager Steffen Schillinger about thinking outside of the box, how he feels about his native Black Forest and his exclusive partnership with ROLF BENZ.
Mr Schillinger, in your industry you are regarded as “the wild one”. Why is that?
I honestly don’t know how I got that name. Perhaps because of a press article on a previous project, the Berghütte Lauterbad – an outing and event location that we opened in 2014. Just like in the “Fritz”, we thought out of the box with the Berghütte and surprise our guests there with a mix of the traditional and modern. However, I can really identify with the role of “the wild one”. I’m not someone who rehashes classic ideas. I get ants in my pants and just love going off the beaten track to try out something new and do things differently.
You’ve proven that impressively with your new Hotel Fritz Lauterbad. How did you get the idea of “Urban Soul meets Black Forest”?
Right away I knew that the hotel needed a fresh start with a sustainable concept. The idea of “Urban Soul meets Black Forest” came to me on a hotel scouting tour. I looked at lots of different hotels for inspiration, in Austria and in Switzerland but also in cities such as New York, Paris and Amsterdam. I collected all sorts of impressions on my tour and loads of photos. It just clicked at some point.
What do you mean by “Urban Soul meets Black Forest”?
Our concept is aimed at design-oriented guests with a penchant for an urban lifestyle and beautiful nature. I personally love the city and lived for a long time in Cologne and Frankfurt. I like the urban attitude to life and good design. But I also like the Black Forest. A lot. So why not combine both city flair and rural tranquillity? That’s exactly what we offer our guests in the “Fritz”.
You’ve partnered exclusively with ROLF BENZ for the interior design of the “Fritz”. How did that come about?
I had the idea of having a partner who would furnish the whole hotel with high quality and stylish furniture early on. I got talking to the managers during a Rolf Benz event at our Berghütte and I told them about the plans for our new hotel concept.
At ROLF BENZ they were immediately full of enthusiasm. We hit it off right away. Together we thought about the best way to implement the “Urban Soul meets Black Forest” concept in terms of design. At some point I saw some images of the ROLF BENZ stand at the furniture fair in Milan. These hit the nail on the head, reflecting exactly what we were looking for. From that point we started selecting furniture, colours and materials. We signed everything off in December 2018 and finally assembled the furniture in mid May 2019. That was a great feeling!
What do you associate with the ROLF BENZ brand?
Just like our hotel, the name ROLF BENZ stands for top Black Forest quality. The items of furniture from Nagold are incredibly stylish, timeless and uniquely comfortable. They have models that have been popular for decades. Real classics. Lots of my acquaintances and relatives also have ROLF BENZ furniture in their living rooms. Some of them are donkeys years old but today they still look as modern as the day they were bought.
You weren’t only responsible for the interior design, you designed the hotel’s logo and corporate design as well. Have you always been so creative?
I used to draw a lot when I was a little kid. I’ve always been a visual sort of person and I’ve always had a thing for design and architecture. If I wasn’t a hotelier, I’d probably have my own design or architect’s office.
You come from a family of hoteliers from the Black Forest that has been managing the well-known Wellnesshotel Lauterbad for many years. How’s it going working with your parents?
My parents are exemplary doers, creators, thoroughbred gastronomes and hosts. I’ve learned a huge amount from them and I’m still learning. We work well together as a team of three, we consult closely with each other and make important decisions together. It was like that when we were planning the “Fritz”. They are gradually handing over more responsibility to me because they want to travel more for one thing. Nevertheless, they are still very active and present. They love working in the business and looking after the guests and that’s great. I’m enormously thankful to them for that.
Your guests can recharge their batteries at the “Fritz” in peace and quiet. How do you relax?
That’s not so easy at the moment. Although things have quietened down a bit since we completed and opened the “Fritz” at the end of July, I’m still working flat out on operational issues. If I need to get some rest now and then, I go into nature and take photographs. That has a really calming effect on me. I’m planning to go on a hiking tour with my girlfriend soon. Hiking boots on, mobile off and simply enjoy the peace and quiet. That grounds me.
WOW as far as the eye can see
The “Fritz”, which has been furnished exclusively with furniture from the ROLF BENZ and freistil ROLF BENZ brands, offers a total of 70 rooms and studios – optionally with a forest or panoramic view. At the core of the hotel is its glass lobby that combines the listed old building with the modern new-build. The seat and lounge furniture are arranged as islands and their colour corresponds to the surrounding landscape: the walls and furniture have earthy and natural tones, from green to copper and sludge.
The rooms and studios accommodate swivelling versions of the Rolf Benz 684 armchair, the freistil 173 armchair, the freistil 175 sofa and the Rolf Benz 8480 and Rolf Benz 973 coffee tables. Different versions of the Rolf Benz 650 are used as a desk chair and in different versions in the bistro bar, in the restaurant and – in a stackable design – in the conference room.