As a guest to a city, there’s no greater reward than feeling close to its cultural quintessence. For visitors to Basel, the Swiss practice’s meticulous transformation of a heritage building into a boutique hotel delivers that proximity in low-key luxury.
Originally built as a manor house in the 14th century, the building in the riverfront district of Kleinbasel served as a brewery and hub of political activity before being transformed into a cultural institution in 1925. The architects’ restoration of the golden age splendour of the Volkshaus involved reversing a 1970s overhaul that had patched over many of its original features. Now safely reinstated, nods to the building’s history recur throughout – from round windows and lighting to bespoke wooden furniture, and 17th-century etchings transferred onto wallpaper in the 45 guest rooms. Generously sized, each exudes an air of sophistication, with smooth terrazzo floors and black-stained solid oak cabinetry discreetly concealing the bathroom’s emerald ceramic tiles. Art takes centre stage in the light-flooded lobby, which doubles as an offsite for Von Bartha Gallery, currently showcasing a Bernar Venet sculpture. In the bar, dark wood and gleaming tin tabletops set a stylish scene, while the grand bay window of the brasserie serves as a delectable nook for dining and daydreaming.