Imagine four sprawling miles of a thematic park featuring a museum, several pavilions, and a client center (where customers can pick up new cars and tour a massive factory). Who would ever expect that something like that would have a Ritz-Carlton abutting it?
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The Autostadt is a center of excellence built by Volkswagen and dedicated to the automobile, but it’s about much more than just cars, Autostadt celebrates design, art, architecture, and science. However let’s forget these twenty-eight hectares of rolling hills and lakes for a few moments and step to the other side. On the west end of the ‘Car City’ lays a circular building of glass and natural stone with 147 luxurious rooms and 23 suites: The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg.
The Ritz Carlton is a contemporary chateau – or as a German speaker would say, a Schloss – on the edge of a canal at the end of the Volkswagen’s Autostadt. Re-designed by Elliot Barnes in 2013, the Ritz Carlton, Wolfsburg is a glass building in the shape of a ‘C’, maybe inspired by ‘castle’, or maybe ‘charismatic’. The moment you set eyes on this structure you feel an inexplicable desire to enter, and you are far away from imagining what you will find inside.
The Ground Floor
The entrance of the hotel unites the Autostadt with The Ritz by bringing the park’s nature inside. The main feature is the “glass forest” commissioned by Savanti of Murano, a freely organized masterpiece of hand-blown glass forms with amber tinted accents inspired by bamboo trees. The shapes of the furnishings and the use of lighting and mirrors throughout the space allude to the world of the automobile.
The reception walls are upholstered in leather accented with geometric polished pink-gold inserts, reminiscent of the most stunning automotive interiors. In the lobby, the Namibia white stone fireplace serves as a focal point and divides the vast space into more intimate seating areas. Each setting is grounded by a rug with patterns suggestive of tire tracks and geometric autumn colored leaves.
The saloon-inspired lounge with its arced wall of cognac tinted glass tubes is called Newman’s Bar. Private seating areas are formed by golden mesh panels offering intimate spaces for relaxation. In the bar’s smoking lounge the walls are covered in papyrus leaves creating an interesting aroma and a cozy ambience that is offset by the back wall of the space which is covered in mirrored boxes punctuated by small touches of light; a meeting of textures and smooth surfaces, multiple reflections and distortion.
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The overall design of Terra Restaurant is inspired by the notion of “terroir”, or natural, artisanal products that reflect their origins. The materials and colors used in the restaurant are suggestive of the earth’s geology. The finish and forms applied on the walls continue over the ceiling resulting in a warm encompassing feeling in the space. Guest’s are met at the reception by a burnt oak wall that features a glass mosaic which pays homage to Yann Arthus Bertrand’s “La terre vue du ciel”. When entering the restaurant, there is private dining area with a compilation of small droplet shaped glass pendants multiplied in a full length mirror appearing to rain down over the space. The main dining room is both separated and unified by a long, narrow, stone-clad fireplace with an oversized glass center. Golden curtains frame the view out to the Autostadt’s lagoon and VW power plant.
Aqua 3* Restaurant is a place where one comes for a serene dining experience. Aqua sweeps you away in to a world of the ultimate expression of luxury, where the senses are caressed and inspired. The exquisite curvilinear hand-painted shagreen reception walls evoke calmness and prepare you for the delicateness of the meal you are about to enjoy. A magnificent asymmetrical solid block of Azul Macaubas marble serves as the reception desk and sits in front of a fragmented metal mesh covered one-way mirror overlooking the main dining room.
Upon leaving the valley, the ascent up the mountain begins immediately after exiting the elevator. There are four different suite compositions each featuring a roominess and apartment style layout that create an ambience of home living.
A great deal of attention was given to the bathroom while maintaining the spaces basic structure. The vanity mirror was designed for the ultimate accommodation with a tripartite structure and lighting which can, in an instant, be changed from artificial to natural.
Cloudscape is the theme of the hotel’s top floor Club Level available exclusively to fourth floor guests. As you exit the elevator and enter the large salon area, the experience begins with a suspended fireplace and a stunning view of the Autostadt. Composed of different zones, the space is both intimate and spectacular. The seating area is made up of sky blue arm chairs and comfortable sofas with a lounge area including a fireplace that sits in front of a terrace overlooking the hotel courtyard and the Autostadt.
The corridors and guestrooms on the fourth floor keep up with the main design concept of the rooms on the other floors. The courtyard-facing rooms have full length leather headboards, their bathrooms have been completely re-done in Spanish Ambarino marble and feature walk-in steam showers with built-in seats.
The fourth floor provides two apartment-style suites. Their name, Black & White Suites, is derived from the black and white checked bathroom tiles designed by the previous interior designer, Andrée Putman, which have been preserved, renovated, and reincorporated into the new styling of the suites. The name pays homage to this iconic dame of design with whom Elliot Barnes began his interior design career in Paris. The renovated suites maintain the former furniture of Eileen Gray and Mise Van der Rohe while adding new pieces designed specifically by Elliot Barnes.
In the living room, a corner fireplace is installed to give a strong focal point to the room. There are metallic notes in brushed warm gold present throughout, which provide warmth and interesting accents. The master bedroom was completely restructured with a wall separating the room from the terrace and the view now opens to create a large picture window.