Gasthof Art Hotel Hirschen, Schwarzenberg, Bregenzerwald in Austria

The Wooden Curator

Gasthof Art Hotel Hirschen, Schwarzenberg, Bregenzerwald in Austria

The Wooden Curator

Gasthof Art Hotel Hirschen, Schwarzenberg, Bregenzerwald in Austria

The Wooden Curator

Gasthof Art Hotel Hirschen, Schwarzenberg, Bregenzerwald in Austria
The Hirschen ‘Young since 1755’, is a love pot of heritage, art, culture, food and style – a Wunderkammer of familiar nostalgia reframed for the nomads who seek roots and prefer to sleep with history

Intro

Peel under the Baronial façade of cured timber, mandatory flowering blooms and Austrian frescos and you’ll discover a family heirloom brushed by an incredibly rich canvas of history woven with the arts: a cultural marriage of rustic meets east-side gallery. 

Dating back to the 1700s, Gasthof Hirschen Schwarzenberg, affectionately referred to as The Hirschen, is a place of heritage that has been the resting spot of choice for passing royals; King Maximilian of Bavaria; August, the king of Saxony and the culturati of the day including poet Eduard Mörike. It is wonderfully scarred, marked with the tales of past and not one floor is level, the walls lean and beams arch under the weight of time: this place is gorgeously twisted by the centuries – real sustainability from the past. 

The family Fetz have been the owning custodians for the past 250 years and today Peter has the stewardship taking over from father and art curator, Franz. It is a family affair and locals as well as the countless returning guests enjoy their encounters with the family. 

Peter is curious by default, he is well travelled, a patron of the culinary scene, a thinker, he understands the importance of heritage and loves his Bregenzerwald mountains – just go on a walk with him. Importantly he sees his beloved Hirschen with fresh eyes and understands that it is the guest, the people, the staff, that make a place special and with it the feeling the place emits, how it bonds with them.  He also instinctively knows what bare bones to keep, what his guests love, and what is needed to keep the legend going.  Growing up in the house, he knows every nook and cranny, now he is on a design mission to expose them, creating a relaxed alpine retreat that speaks of old, paying tradition with respect whilst adding new notes of modern. Expect to find the timber in every direction – that’s a given here in these parts, old frescos, planked flooring, folksy furniture painted in the classic Bauernmalerei, antiques, and quirks sit alongside muted eggshell tones, crisp linens, and of course, artworks – mainly from local artist Franz Metzler, to whom many of the rooms are dedicated and works by Margit Nosko, Paul Renner, Aldo Mondino, Helmut King, Thomas Riss, Franz Schnell, Harry Metzler, and other Vorarlberg artists of the present.

Food is also firmly on the agenda and cuisine pilgrims flock to the Hirschen, it’s an integral DNA to the house experience, and Peter is a self-confessed foodie who loves to chat about the famous cheese, the wines, the cattle, the importance of knowing where your food came from and that interpersonal relationship with the farming community. 

The Hirschen ‘Young since 1755’, is a love pot of heritage, art, culture, food and style – a Wunderkammer of familiar nostalgia reframed for the nomads who seek roots and prefer to sleep with history. 

Rooms

Gasthof Art Hotel Hirschen, Schwarzenberg, Bregenzerwald in Austria, member of The Aficionados Gasthof Art Hotel Hirschen, Schwarzenberg, Bregenzerwald in Austria

The 36 rooms are split between the historic inn and the timber structure behind, a newly built Wälderhaus which continues the regional Bregenzerwald architecture. Both benefit from the atmospheric ambience of The Hirschen, simultaneously elegant and timelessly traditional in a way that exudes a deep sense of calm and comfort with Treca mattresses, cotton bedding and roomy bathrooms replete with products from the queen of wellbeing, Susanne Kaufmann.

Like many a heritage building, you’ll find that no two rooms are the same, so best to pick based on what you need. Like space? Go for the King Max Suite where you can gaze at centuries-old frescoes on the ceilings and admire the immaculate parquet flooring. Up in the eaves is the cosy Writer’s Suite, panelled in soothing wood with a bookcase, reading chair and bar-with-a-view. Families will find everything they need in the neat and spacious Appartements, some based over two floors with characterful, curved stairwells to get you to the bedrooms.

Food and the Hirschen are firmly married - the chef turns his creative talents towards recreating your alpine favourites with such delicacy you really can have your cake and eat it

Foodie

Gasthof Art Hotel Hirschen, Schwarzenberg, Bregenzerwald in Austria

Gasthof Hirschen Schwarzenberg is a hotel famed as a foodie bolthole - raved about, in fact, and recently awarded 89 Falstaff points and one Gault Millau Toque.

When a young maverick chef takes over the helms, it is fantastic how he dips into the heritage of this inn's 300-year-old history and reinvents the classics with creativity. Head Chef Jonathan Burger, known as ‘the gourmet hipster’, has delved into the past to source old-table dishes served here centuries ago, giving them healthier, lighter touches and serving them as truly beautiful creations. Burger operates his kitchen more like a laboratory where he and his team of ten fellow pioneers explore new cooking methods to modify ancestral fermentations.

Family Fetz has their own herb and vegetable gardens, smokehouse and even a working dairy farm up in the alps called Alpe Rothenbach, where happy pigs roam and butter is churned alongside the famous Bregenzerwald cheeses. Austrian grapes headline the wine list, with an impressive wine cellar and vinothèque. Dining options include an old-style cosy Stube decked in history, as well as a great outdoor garden terrace, perfect for sunning yourself during the warmer months.

Gasthof Art Hotel Hirschen, Schwarzenberg, Bregenzerwald in Austria, member of The Aficionados Gasthof Art Hotel Hirschen, Schwarzenberg, Bregenzerwald in Austria, member of The Aficionados

Film

Location

Schwarzenberg, Bregenzerwald in Austria

Natural hotspot, Bregenzerwald is home to the cute village of Schwarzenberg, and right at the heart stands the Gasthof Hirschen as the focal point opposite a wonderful medieval church with sweeping vistas on up to the mountains of the Vorarlberg region of Austria

Just a short drive down to the shores of Bodensee (Lake Constance) and the nearby city of historic Bregenz, sandwiched between Zurich in the west and Innsbruck to the east.

I love the fact that the real tradition of the Hirschen has always been it's open-mindedness, and it's curiosity towards the things that happen outside the village

Owners

Franz and Peter Fetz

When the charismatic Peter Fetz took over the reins in 2018, he was under no illusion about how best to fill the shoes of his father, Franz Fetz, a sort of legend. Not only for owning one of the best hotels in Austria, nor for being part of the same owning family for the past 250 years, or for the foodie reputation that he has built up over the years. No – Franz Fetz is also known for his insatiable appetite for art – which adorns every wall of his hotel.

Next-generation Peter is equally a passionate guy, a natural host, a fellow foodie and a global nomad.  He was acutely aware of how best to secure the next 250 years of the Hirschen. 'After growing up in this house, I had to go far away to clear my mind and see the Hirschen "empty". Call it emotional Zero" explains Peter. 'Over the years, I've been to many other hotels, and time made me change my perspective. I've learned that your brand is nothing more than the feeling you want your guests to have when they walk through your front gate.' There is a sense of 'fresh air' at the Hirschen, and Peter has already given the heritage rooms a contemporary accent that frames the family art collections.  He has also seriously upped the restaurant scene  – already proving a hit with both locals and those from far afield to experience his culinary mash-up of traditional Austrian plates to urban fusions that caught his tastebuds while on travels.

'I love the fact that the real tradition of the Hirschen has always been its open-mindedness and its curiosity towards the things that happen outside the village. Once you get that, it opens a lot of interesting routes for you.'

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