10.09.2019

Reduced to the max – “Mittermeiers Alter Ego”

At the gateway to Rothenburg's old town, a former entrepreneur's villa dating back to the Gründerzeit in the 19th-century has been converted into a hotel.
At the gateway to Rothenburg's old town, a former entrepreneur's villa dating back to the Gründerzeit in the 19th-century has been converted into a hotel.

The client has combined two different concepts in it: the quality of a high-end designer hotel with the freedom and informality of a private apartment. While black dominates in the colour concept on the outside, transparency and openness reign inside – all the way through to the combined bedroom/bathroom. “Mittermeiers Alter Ego” clearly illustrates just how skilfully this can be interpreted in a modern designer hotel in its eleven rooms, where the spacious, luxurious shower area sets the tone as the key design element.

© Jan Schmiedel

The villa that is now “Mittermeiers Alter Ego” was built in 1904 by a Rothenburg soap and perfume manufacturer. In 2017, Ulli and Christian Mittermeier, two well-known and highly-experienced hotel and catering professionals, purchased the vacant property with the aim of carefully refurbishing it and giving it a contemporary makeover. Ideally, the building was situated directly next door to the “Villa Mittermeier”, a boutique hotel and gourmet restaurant in Rothenburg that the Mittermeiers had been successfully running for over 20 years.

The operators were determined from the outset that “Mittermeiers Alter Ego” was not to be a second classic boutique hotel but, as a hybrid and concept hotel, should combine the quality of a high-end designer hotel with the freedom and informality of a private apartment.

“As we embarked on the building works, I asked myself: as a guest, what design and aesthetic do I expect of a hotel? As I myself spend about 80 nights a year in various national and international hotels, I knew exactly what a guest likes and what I would definitely do differently. I have benefited from these experiences, and enabled my own ideas to be integrated,” Christian Mittermeier explains the philosophy behind his second hotel project.

Architectural support for the conversion of this residence into a concept hotel was provided by Martin Schroth (Architekturstudio Schroth). The overriding idea behind the refurbishment process: to specifically omit details, and instead have everything of the very highest quality. “We had the courage to question certain things that had previously always been considered as natural in the hotel industry, and to interpret the whole thing as we believed was right – in some cases, very much differently,” laughs Christian Mittermeier.

“We asked ourselves what the first place is that a guest looks at in a hotel, and we quickly realised it was the bathroom,” he continues. For the guest, the hotel bathroom is an instant indicator of the hotel’s standard, and is often also a source of inspiration. Hotel bathrooms used to be designed along the lines of private bathrooms at home, so in other words they were rooms with four walls, a shower or bath, and a WC. Gradually, though, the walls to the bedroom were opened up and transparent glass walls let daylight in. The third step in the evolution of the hotel bathroom was the complete elimination of bathroom walls, which gives the bathroom a stage character – like the bathrooms in “Mittermeiers Alter Ego”, the design of which is artistically sophisticated, and where openness and transparency dominate.

Sophisticated design of the shower

Rather than being welcomed to the room by a hall stand or wardrobe, guests enter a large, foyer-like space that quite deliberately puts the shower, washbasin and mirror in clear view. “For me, the shower is the most important element in a hotel room. I have my best ideas under the shower. I want to have room here, and be surrounded by luxury and spaciousness.” So Christian Mittermeier opted for generous, flush-level showers with plenty of space – with the luxury aspect being met by two neighbouring rain showers, known as double showers, that can be controlled individually and promise plenty of extra space under the shower.

Next to the shower is a recess with the WC. The required privacy is provided by sliding doors made of frosted glass than can be used to separate the area, which is designed as a T zone. The more transparency there is in a combined bedroom/bathroom, the more privacy needs to be provided in the form of movable partitions or frosted panes. Practical details: the handle on the front of the door doubles as a towel rail.

As the shower area is a design element in the hotel room, the client and architect wanted to find a shower area that would blend seamlessly with the plain overall design of the hotel, one of the key impulse generators in the architectural concept. “Black dominates in the colour concept: black floors, black exterior façade. We’ve used lots of taupe and dark blue on the inside,” explains architect Martin Schroth. The black of the floors is also continued in the hotel rooms in the form of deep-black solid oak parquet flooring. The black floor structure has been turned into black tiles in the bathrooms to create a harmonious overall impression.

© Jan Schmiedel

Artistic, economic and technical advantages

The search was on for black, floor-levels shower areas in various sizes with an anti-slip finish. “We decided on shower areas by Bette for artistic, economic and technical reasons,” he adds. Overall, eleven differently-sized BetteFloor Side shower areas were fitted in the matt colour Raven and with the almost invisible Bette AntiSlip Pro finish for maximum safety when showering.

The matt black of BetteFloor is the perfect structural and colour match for the black of the bathroom tiles, and blends seamlessly with the tile structure. Along with the artistic integration, the architect also paid particular attention to the seamless connection between the shower area and the bathroom floor, which was to have no edges or rims that could cause slips or allow dirt to settle. “Another benefit was that we were able to insert the shower trays at a later date, after the walls had been tiled and the frosted glass panes fitted.” However, what tipped the scale in Bette’s favour was the offset drain of the BetteFloor Side, which is not felt as an irritating “bump” under the feet when showering.

© Jan Schmiedel

Filigree frame as a recurring design element

Along with the nine Regular rooms, “Mittermeiers Alter Ego” also has two Extra-Large rooms. In addition to the floor-level shower, one of the two larger rooms has also been fitted with an exclusive Bette bath. Bette has transferred a successful architectural concept into interior design for the bathroom with the skeleton construction of the free-standing BetteLux Shape bath. Sturdy steel forms the supporting open frame into which the bath, made of glazed titanium steel, is hung, presenting the softly flowing interior and gently tapered rim of the bath at their very best.

© Jan Schmiedel

Positioned in the middle of the room, the bath instantly attracts the eye on entering the large room, and adds a particular lightness to it. “The extremely filigree bath frame is naturally as if it had been made for our design concept, and is the perfect match for our overall composition,” says Christian Mittermeier. “The bathroom is absolutely ‘reduced to the max’; all the important factors are there, everything else has been elegantly omitted. Which also applies to ‘Mittermeiers Alter Ego’.”

In fact, the motif of the frame, like the black colour, is a recurring design element throughout the hotel. Christian Mittermeier: “The design of our frame elements is based on paintings by Mondrian. We have adopted the proportions from them, and transferred them to the frames, which we use as room dividers, shelving, lighting and hall stands.”

© Jan Schmiedel

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