Proving that a hotel can bloom from the most unlikely of settings, Hotel Liberty has just opened its doors to guests after an extensive three-year renovation project centered around Offenburg’s former prison. Set just outside the city walls of Offenburg’s old town, Hotel Liberty is the ideal base from which to explore the historic city, as well as the region’s lush vineyards and the world-famous Black Forest. And yet thanks to its commitment to impeccable design, service, and gastronomy, Hotel Liberty is set to become a destination in its own right.
Architecture and Design
Hotel Liberty’s 38 rooms and suites are spread across two 19th-century buildings and joined by a contemporary glass box. Originally conceived by the German architect Heinrich Hübsch in 1840 and completed in 1845, the structure served as a jail for the city of Offenburg until 2009. A comprehensive renovation program between 2014 and 2017 has resulted in a hotel design defined by wide corridors, natural materials, and a 10-meter-high glass wall which provides a striking juxtaposition to the severe red sandstone façade. The original stonework plays an integral part in the aesthetics of the 38 rooms and suites, which have been created by connecting several former cells. Further referencing the building’s past, the 1.2 meter-thick walls have been left intact, and the old cell doors have been cleverly integrated into the contemporary layout.
The new glass box extension acts as a gateway to the two components of the original structure, and houses the restaurant, lounge, gallery, and a library that boasts over 3000 tomes. The second-floor conference and meeting room appears to float in mid-air and adds a whole new meaning to “blue sky thinking”.
Rooms and Suites
The Knoblauch design studio was responsible for the hotel’s interiors, which fuses traditional craftwork with contemporary design classics. In the guestrooms, sideboards by Dutchbone and pieces by Fritz Hansen, HAY, and Arflex rub shoulders with handmade furniture and accessories by local artisans. The tonal green color palette complements the dark oak parquet flooring and red brick vaulted ceilings. Artwork handpicked by Hotel Liberty’s Originals—brothers Christian and Dietmar Funk—grace the walls, showcasing the talents of resident Offenburg artist Stefan Strumbel. The black leather headboards contrast with snow-white beds, which feature woven linen from Swiss firm Schwob and cloud-like mattresses by Treca. An extensive pillow menu ensures a perfect night’s sleep for each and every guest.
Perfectly equipped for a stylish night cap, the minibar is housed in a gray-green lacquered cabinet, custom-made for each room, and filled with a selection of local spirits and wines. Local flavor also extends to the bathrooms, which are elegantly outfitted with showers and fittings from the Axor signature line of Schiltach-based company Hans Grohe. Most of the superior rooms, as well as all junior suites and suites, have a free-standing bathtub—many with views over the neighboring parkland. Bath time luxury comes courtesy of Quercus amenities by heritage brand Penhaligon and exquisitely soft towels and bathrobes, while the Liberty duckling adds a touch of whimsy.
Bread and Water
The meagre prison rations of yesteryear are a distant memory at today’s Hotel Liberty, where gastronomy plays an integral role in the overall hospitality concept. Served in the gallery, traditional afternoon tea is heightened by a superb choice of fresh tea leaves and herbs, which are cut and infused to order. The hotel is also the first in Germany to offer Ceylon Kenilworth Silver Tip tea, a rarity which is usually the reserve of the Arabian royal families. In a witty nod to the traditional prisoners’ diet, the bar offers a “brown and white” menu, featuring an extensive selection of whisk(e)y, gin, rum, and brandy—many of which are sourced from local producers.
French chef Jeremy Biasiol is at the helm of the “Water & Bread” restaurant, taking responsibility for the spectacular open grill which stands between the kitchen and dining room. After spending many years working with Alain Ducasse (Biasiol, Le Essex House, Paris, Le Louis XV, Monte Carlo), Biasiol won his first Michelin star in Hong Kong before moving to Jade on 36 at the Shangri-La Pudong in Shanghai. From East to West, the 37-year old chef’s stomping ground will now be the weekly market, which will provide him with the regional and seasonal produce that is key to his menu. The restaurant’s French-Asian inspired dishes include slow-cooked cod with mussels, caviar sauce, and crispy potatoes, and “Liberty Garden” with edible soil, mini vegetables, micro herbs, and flowers.
Just outside the city walls of Offenburg in Germany’s Baden-Württemberg state, the hotel puts guests just minutes away from the city’s historic center, the famous Black Forest, and the French city of Strasbourg. Oenophiles are spoilt for choice with the sheer number and variety of wines from surrounding vineyards, and the lush walkways of the Black Forest provide ample tracks and trails for hikers and cyclists.
Karlsruhe Airport is approximately 45 kilometers/40 minutes by car while it is 120 kilometers/90 minutes to EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg. The hotel is easily reached by rail services from Basel and Frankfurt.