BRUSSELS – The Radisson Blu Schwarzer Bock Hotel, Wiesbaden, has celebrated its 525th anniversary. With its first documentary mention in 1486, it is considered to be the oldest Grand Hotel in Germany. At that time, St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and St. Basil’s Cathedral on the Red Square in Moscow did not exist, America and the Amazon were not discovered, and Martin Luther was just three years old.
The “Schwarzer Bock” was originally a bath house, and its name stems from the first owner, Philipp zum Bock, who had black (“schwarz” in German) hair. Back then, Wiesbaden had only 36 inhabitants, but it already had an established reputation for its beneficial hot springs: the bricks from 33 AD found during construction work on the hotel’s site prove that the ancient Romans treated their ailments here. The bricks can be seen in the cellar of the “Schwarzer Bock”.
However, later Wiesbaden became one of the leading spa destinations in Europe. Ladies from nearby Frankfurt society made sure, when drawing up their marriage contracts, that they could visit the Wiesbaden spa once a year – without their husbands. Goethe was a guest at the “Schwarzer Bock” and summed up the experience as follows: “The primary duty of every bather is not to sit and think, but rather to bend to a higher purpose his wit, and make a merry life of it.”
At the beginning of the 20th Century, the old bath house was demolished and replaced by a modern building with 220 beds, electric lights, elevators and later, running water – at 5 Marks per night. After the Second World War, the Americans occupied the “Schwarzer Bock” for another twelve years.
The hotel, which has been known as Radisson Blu since 1995, now has 142 rooms and suites decorated in a classical style. It’s been a long time since guests have slept on bed frames covered with bags of straw and hair mattresses, as used in the “Schwarzer Bock” at the end of the 18th century. Ovens in the rooms, as used by guests in the 19th century to cook their own meals because the hotel had no restaurant at the time, are also a thing of the past.
Today, the hotel in Wiesbaden offers a number of facilities, from comfortable beds and private baths to air conditioning and free WiFi. The “Capricorn” restaurant serves international and national specialities, and the atmospheric Bar 1486, named after the official “birth year”, is the perfect place to end the day. On entering the bar, guests should not only cast an eye over the cocktail menu, but also look at the door, on which the year of the first documentary mention is inscribed: 1486.
“To manage a hotel with this history is an extraordinary privilege. 1486-2011, is an enormous time frame and for most people it is scarcely imaginable. In order to celebrate this event with our guests from around the world, we have prepared exclusive anniversary offers, available throughout the year,” said general manager Peter Mikkelsen.