LONDON—JOI-Design has recently completed an expansion and its second renovation of one of the oldest hotels in Europe, the Hotel Ritter Durbach in southern Germany’s Black Forest. Founded in 1656, the property benefits from a location between the wine route of the German region Baden-Wurttemberg and the French region of Alsace.
After 100 years of ownership by generations of the Brunner lineage, the Ritter family acquired the hotel in 2007 and, having worked with JOI-Design previously on a project on the isle of Rügen, commissioned the studio to create a stylish scheme for the nearly 400-year old inn. The firm was appointed again in 2012 for an extension to the hotel, as well as restorations to its historical fabric. The team managed the works from concept through to completion over the course of 16 months to ensure the new construction would not damage the integrity of the 17th-century building and that the design would be harmonious with the previous style.
JOI-Design’s objective was to create a unique leisure experience that embraced its location without damaging the hotel’s soul, according to the firm. Through contemporary palettes and materials, their solution bridges the traditional with the modern by bringing 21st-century twists to classic German concepts.
Forty new rooms and suites with bursts of colour have been designed in a style sympathetic to the existing ones. Apple green curtains add pops of color, and a wall panel inset with deep raspberry-toned niches adds architectural interest for the desk and minibar facilities. Leather headboards have been embossed with the hotel’s updated “knight” logo. Nestled under the eaves, the suites have an especially cozy feel, according to the design firm.
Working in harmony with the existing decor, the new annex continues the theme of the old and the new. New meeting rooms subtly reference the region’s winemaking heritage with an abstract grape motif in their carpets. A break-out space mixes comfortable conversation areas with natural touches, as seen, for example, with the curved bar top hewn from timber plank and tree branches that double as candleholders on the coffee tables.
A new introduction is the Ritter Lounge, a winter garden with a light-filled atrium designed to have plenty of glazing and skylights. In the center is a modern fireplace warms surrounded by leather armchairs enlivened by dashes of magenta and lime in the scrolled accent cushions.
Furthermore, relaxation rooms were added to the property’s spa, each with an assortment of seating options, including side-by-side chaise longues; an expansive, uniquely designed sofa lounger to accommodate numerous spa-goers; and whimsical beanbag chairs. Deep olive-toned walls with berry and golden-colored accents encourage a natural feel, while sheer dividers and a rustic timber partition frame contribute degrees of intimacy. A new tea lounge and library is a quiet place for transitioning from the serenity of the spa back into the liveliness of the hotel, according to the firm.