Hirschen Fine Hotel, Restaurant & Spa in Schwarzenberg, Bregenzerwald in Austria | Member of The Aficionados

The Good-Life Curator

The Hirschen ‘Young since 1755’, is a love pot of heritage, wellness, 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 back the baronial façade of cured timber, mandatory flowering blooms, and Austrian frescoes, and you’ll discover a creatively inspired heirloom brushed by a rich canvas of history woven with the arts: a cultural marriage of rustic meets east-side gallery—this is the good life bonhomie, Hirschen Fine Hotel, Restuarant & Spa.

Dating back to the 1700s, Hirschen Schwarzenberg is a place of European 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 the 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 that frame an elegant modern aesthetic of country house living. 

The Fetz family have been the owning custodians of the Hirschen for the past 250 years, and today, Peter and sister Pia have the stewardship taking over from father and art curator Franz. Peter is curious by default; he is well-travelled and a patron of the culinary scene, and he understands the importance of preserving heritage whilst injecting a modern sleight of hand with the finer details. 

'The Good-Life Curator' is the modern hallmark of this hotel legend laced in timber in every direction – that’s a given in these parts, plus old frescoes and gorgeously worn planked flooring. Originality prevails with folksy furniture painted in the classic Bauernmalerei and antiques that sit alongside a chameleon backstage of a traditional and designer less-is-more ethos, all wrapped in muted eggshell tones and wheaten tones in crisp linens. Contemporary art narrates the scene, mainly from local artist Franz Metzler, to whom many of the rooms are dedicated and works by Margit Nosko, Paul Renner, Aldo Mondino and other Vorarlberg artists of the present.

The latest addition to the Hirschen is the timber bathhouse in the garden. Designed by Nona Architects, a gallery space has been converted to an architecturally striking new spa house with treatment rooms and saunas. Framed by the verdant fronds of the garden, the outdoor swimming pool is long enough for lengths, heated by the excess warmth from a timber plant. Even better is an underground tunnel that leads directly to a secret drinking spot – aptly named the bathrobe bar.

Food is also firmly on the agenda, and culinary pilgrims flock to the Hirschen. Peter is a self-confessed foodie who loves to chat about the famous cheese, wine, and fermentation, the importance of knowing where your food comes from, and that interpersonal relationship with the farming community. 

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

Rooms

G Hirschen Fine Hotel, Restaurant & Spa in Schwarzenberg, Bregenzerwald in Austria | Member of The Aficionados  Hirschen Fine Hotel, Restaurant & Spa in Schwarzenberg, Bregenzerwald in Austria | Member of The Aficionados

Artworks – the signature of the Hirschen – feature in all of the rooms, making each slightly distinctive. Like the Hirschen itself, the bedrooms, suites and 12-holiday apartments, called Hirschen Homes, come in all different shapes and sizes and are spread between the historic and new buildings - all within the architectural style of the setting. Supplying a range of stylish choices for the modern design traveller, there are 14 rooms in the inn, simultaneously elegant and timelessly traditional in a way that exudes a deep sense of calm and comfort. Treca mattresses, cotton bedding and roomy bathrooms replete with products from the queen of wellbeing, Susanne Kaufmann, sit alongside heritage features such as parquet flooring and centuries-old frescoes on the ceiling. 

In the newly renovated timber Wälderhaus, there are 12 Hirschen Homes, suites and apartments that are spacious, contemporaryly styled, and convenient. Some have kitchenettes, and some have two bedrooms. These timber cocoons are ideal for families or groups wanting to stay a little longer.

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

Hirschen Schwarzenberg is a hotel famed as a foodie bolthole - raved about, in fact, and recently awarded 89 Falstaff points and three 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.

Spa

Alpine Wellness  Hirschen Fine Hotel, Restaurant & Spa in Schwarzenberg, Bregenzerwald in Austria | Member of The Aficionados  Hirschen Fine Hotel, Restaurant & Spa in Schwarzenberg, Bregenzerwald in Austria | Member of The Aficionados

Adding another string to the Hirschen’s bow and bringing it firmly into modern times is the new bathhouse in the garden. Designed by Nona Architects, the timber and stainless steelstructure is a gorgeous testament to wellness with its relaxation rooms, saunas, gym and light-filled yoga studio. 

Outside a swimming pool sits nestled among the greenery of e garden and its 15 x 4-metre size mean a few lengths are very much possible, if the moment takes you. Also to be noted is the secret passage which takes you directly from spa to bar. Without the need the change or be respectable, the clandestine drinky spot is called the Bathrobe Bar, for good reason.

Location

Natural hotspot, Bregenzerwald is home to the cute village of Schwarzenberg, and right at the heart stands the Hirschen Fine Hotel, Restaurant & Spa 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 to the shores of Bodensee (Lake Constance) and the nearby city of historic Bregenz, Hotel Hirschen is sandwiched between Zurich in the west and Innsbruck in 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

Owner

When the charismatic Peter Fetz took over the reins of the Hirschen 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 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 hotel wall.

Next-generation Peter is an equally passionate guy – a natural host, a lover of outdoor sporting pursuits, an advocate for better wellness, 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 given the heritage rooms a contemporary accent that frames the family art collections.

Peter Fetz - owner of Gasthof Art Hotel Hirschen, Schwarzenberg, Bregenzerwald in Austria, member of The Aficionados

He has also seriously upped the restaurant scene – proving a hit with both locals and those from further afield who come toexperience his culinary mash-up of traditional Austrian plates and urban fusions that caught his tastebuds while on his travels.

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