Three parking places in front of the Hotel Victoria, Eisenbahnstraße 54, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany, are electric car charging stations. That’s your first hint that this hotel is a “Green Hotel”.
On the roof: 200 square meters (almost 220 square feet) of solar panels produce about 20.000 kilowatt hours of current per year. (There also are four small wind turbines.) All hotel toilet tanks consume six liters of water per flush (instead of the usual nine liters). Flow restrictors in wash basins and showers minimize water consumption, as do the ergonomically-designed bathtubs. Other energy savers? Using wood pellets for heating, and ground water for cooling.
Staying at the Hotel Victoria, I noticed none of these. The hotel is charming — as befits one that is family-run and dates back to 1870. Some of the “savings” result in being immersed in the local culture. The breakfast buffet, for example, includes milk from Breisgau cows, bread from a Freiburg baker, sausages from a Freiburg butcher, jam from the Black Forest, and eggs from a free-range farm in nearby Hartheim.
I had a compact single room, about 14 meters (150 square feet) in size, equipped with bathroom, working desk and armchair — and, of course, free high-speed internet access. As usual, there’s a safe, mini-bar, TV, telephone, and coffee and tea facilities. Other options among the 64 rooms are accommodations with double beds, a couple of junior suites, and an elegant Havana suite with Cuban-style décor.
There’s a small sauna and fitness room, a first-floor lounge with coffee and tea available all day, and the chance to rent bicycles. (It rained every day I was there in December, so I didn’t rent one.)
Locals and visitors alike have gathered in the hotel’s Hemingway Bar for more than 25 years. Named as one of the 10 best bars in Germany, it’s known for fine drinks and cocktails. Downstairs, the Hemingway Smoker Lounge provides a haven for those who like their cocktails with cigars or cigarettes.
Freiburg im Breisgau is an historic university city of about 220,000 in southwest Germany’s Black Forest dating back at least to the 12th Century (that’s the historic Merchants Hall, below). It’s at the heart of the Baden wine-growing region, and the restaurants feature local wines. These days its known for its environmental practices: bicycling, recycling, and sustainability are city watch words.
The Hotel Victoria is located between the train station and the city’s Aldstadt. As a bonus, the hotel provides guests with complementary passes for local public transportation (trams and buses). The Hotel Victoria was built in 1870, and purchased by the current owners, the Späth family, in 1938 (during World War II, it housed French officers). It’s now a Best Western Premier franchise.
(Photos by Susan McKee)