Twelve hundred years ago the biggest thing going in Hornbach, Germany was the local monastery, and we think it’s fair to say that the same holds true today. But for the first time in a very long while, there’s a new local attraction, in the unexpected form of a deeply characterful modern boutique hotel, the Lösch für Freunde. The concept is familiar — a hotel that’s meant to feel like the home of a particularly hospitable friend, with plenty of social spaces extending the experience beyond the guest rooms. Here, it’s all executed with a disarming sincerity, from the moment your host Olivier welcomes you in.
The whole operation revolves around the open kitchen, with a pair of long wooden tables where guests gather twice a day for meals. Particularly at dinner, the food is surprisingly sophisticated, with a four-course menu based on whatever looked best at the market that day. The atmosphere, however, is as casual and convivial as can be. You can literally step into the kitchen to borrow a pot or a pan at any hour of the day, though it’s hard to imagine producing anything better than what you’ll get if you just sit back with a glass of wine and watch the staff do their work.
In addition to the dining area, several public nooks scattered about the house create spaces for relaxing and interacting with fellow guests. There’s a warm, spacious wine lounge with a wood-burning fireplace, a tranquil garden lined with flowers and hedges, a sunny rooftop terrace with a small spa and even a cigar room with the feel of a private library. Not to put too fine a point on it, but that’s an awful lot of places to hang out for a hotel with just fifteen rooms — the idea being that you’ll make yourself at home, and not just in your own room.
Still, it’s perfectly possible to find a little privacy. The guest rooms are not only quiet and comfortable, but also bursting with personality. Each has a theme. One is a sort of audiophile’s playground, with a high-end sound system and some cool leather listening chairs. Another, with a set of antlers hanging above the bed and walls covered in rustic wood paneling, feels fit for a woodsman with a quirky sense of decorative style. It goes on and on like this, from the “grandma room” to the garden suite, each as inspired as the last.
As tiny as the town of Hornbach is, the area around the hotel offers a surprising number of diversions. This is the German wine country, with one vineyard after another laid out across the rolling hills, and the wines themselves are as impressive as the scenery. There are hiking and biking trails, and quaint little towns to explore as well, but the best option is to simply ask Olivier for a recommendation. Soon enough you’ll have a picnic basket full to bursting with local delicacies, and some good, inspired ideas on where to take it.