An unexpected departure for The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company when it opened back in 2000, The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg is a contemporary architectural gem, set against the industrial backdrop of the Volkswagen Kraftwerk (Power Station) in the appropriately named Autostadt (Car Town), Wolfsburg, Lower Saxony, Germany.
Celebrating architecture, art and the automobile, this six-floor, ultra-modern designer property features 170 rooms including 23 suites; a 40-metre outdoor swimming pool; a spa focused on organic treatments and a fitness centre. Although not overly publicised, the hotel also has the largest outdoor freshwater swimming pool in the world – reclaimed from an old waterway that the car plant used as a transportation conduit.
The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg has five bars, lounges and restaurants including the superb three Michelin-starred Aqua offering some of the finest European cuisine in the world. The hotel’s public and guest room spaces are also enhanced by an art collection of contemporary and well-known artists on property.
The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg is part of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.
Set next to the Autostadt in Wolfsburg, the headquarters of the Volkswagen Group and close to the city centre, The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg is surrounded by attractions in 23 hectares of landscaped grounds that are dedicated to the history of the automobile and mobility, emphasising design, art, architecture and science.
The property sits right next to the original Volkswagen port basin and has a view of the four majestic chimneys of the original 1930s power station.
This is also where prospective car owners can visit the glass Car Towers vertical storage facility – two of the most interesting buildings on site - where up to 800 new cars can be stored prior to delivery. There are several delivery options for new car purchasers including an overnight stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg.
It takes around an hour’s ICE high speed train ride from Berlin or Hamburg to the Autostadt and hotel, which are only a few minutes’ walk from the train station. It is about a one hour’s drive from Hannover Airport 85 kilometres away.
The original interior design for The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg was undertaken by the renowned French designer Andrée Putman whose ideas were later redesigned, built upon and expanded by Autostadt Creative Director Maria Schneider and her team in collaboration with Elliott Barnes Interiors who used to work with Putman.
This contemporary update of the original design concept has brought in an extensive contemporary art collection, unique craftsmanship and natural materials to tie in with the design aesthetic of the Autostadt itself, an ode to clean lines and reminiscent of a luxury car’s stylish, detail-driven interiors. The reception’s walls for instance are clothed in fine leathers similar to that used in quality car interiors and this allusion can be traced throughout the furnishings and detailing at the property.
With floor to ceiling windows overlooking the Autostadt or historic Volkswagen plant, the hotel has been designed to complement the site with a C-shaped building of six stories, made from glass and natural stone. The room roster includes 147 guest rooms and 23 suites, all featuring similarly large picture windows and spacious marble bathrooms with separate rain showers, soaker tubs, Asprey amenities and heated floors. The style is minimalist and contemporary, the neutral palette of earth tones of the guest rooms morphing to white the higher up you go to the top floor, mimicking a drive up a mountain.
There are three guest room types and three suite types. The deluxe air-conditioned rooms are large and airy with modern furnishings, a large executive desk and communications centre, flat screen television and video on demand and a daily newspaper and shoeshine service on request. They are located on floors one to three. The Club Room is similar to the deluxe room but has access to the property’s Club Lounge and is located on the fourth floor. The Premium Club Room however also enjoys a personal balcony, a shower with integrated steam bath and access to the Club Lounge.
The Club Level at The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg, resembles a hotel within a hotel and is ostensibly an extension of the guest room, reserved exclusively for Club and Suite clients on the fourth floor. Here, guests can check in and out, consult a dedicated concierge for help and arrangements and there’s complimentary garment pressing too. With a seating area, workspace and a library with a fireplace, the Club Lounge offers five complimentary meal presentations throughout the day with ad hoc snacks and beverages also available.
The suites are all about additional space and all have the feel of a residential apartment. The premier accommodation are the two Black and White Suites, named for the bathroom tiles of Andrée Putman’s original design. Situated on the top floor with an extensive outdoor terrace and sweeping views over the entire Autostadt, this stunning two-bedroom suite has a board room to seat eight people, a complimentary open bar, a powder room for guests, furnishings by Eileen Gray with Barcelona chairs by Mies van der Rohe in a living room complete with a fireplace and pool table.
There is one accessible room for those with disabilities.
The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg is situated in grounds dedicated to the car industry and to design – both industrial and decorative - with a number of interesting attractions within a few minutes’ walk away or a short drive.
Among the nearest attractions are The ZeitHaus museum featuring notable vehicle models from more than 60 historic and current brands; The Kunstmuseum, a five-minute drive from the property with a wide collection of contemporary art; a series of Pavillions featuring and celebrating sister brands, Lamborghini, Bentley, Porsche, Seat, Škoda and Audi and the Phaeno Science Centre, opposite the Autostadt, a ten-minute walk. A visit to the Autostadt museum next to the hotel will give a hands-on historic view of the automobile industry as well as the chance to try out the test tracks and off-road excursions. The football club VFL Wolfsburg plays at the nearby VW Arena.
There are also three shops in Autostadt, two of which will be catnip to car lovers – the Volkswagen Accessories store to the Zeitreise Shop – a time travel experience which is a treasure trove for car aficionados with all kinds of motoring memorabilia. The third boutique is for anyone with a taste for beautiful things from classic home accessories to room fragrances, books and body care products.
It is probably the hand-on driving opportunities which have the greatest lure. Visitors are invited to sharpen their driving skills behind the wheel of an electric car or a four-wheel drive SUV on a demanding all-terrain track. For those who want to feel what it is like to drive in a real race, there are also four racing simulators, equipped with a deep bucket seat that moves with the road surface and a choice of eight vehicles and several famous racetracks.
By way of contrast, just fifteen minutes away lies the aristocratic Wolfsburg Castle, originally dating from the 1300s but today’s rebuild dating to the late 16th century. The castle now houses several museums.
The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg also offers several leisure facilities. One of the hotel’s most popular and glamorous facilities is a 40 metre outdoor heated pool which is built inside the harbour basin on a pontoon opposite the old power plant, sitting level with the canal. The water is always set at a temperature of 84 degrees.
The urban spa oasis of The Ritz-Carlton Spa is dedicated to relaxation and renewal offering guests a day spa retreat with relaxation lounges, steam rooms and saunas with views over the canal, docks and the historic VW plant. A wide range of pampering treatments are available from facials to massages, anti-aging body rituals to salt and clay body wraps. The spa treatments feature renowned organic product lines provided by Neom Luxury Organics, The Organic Pharmacy and Amala. There is also a gymnasium featuring a range of TechnoGym equipment with views overlooking the basin.
Nearby activities easily arranged include cycling, boating and sailing, golf, horseback riding and jogging trails.
With a welcoming and striking C-shaped glass and natural stone modernist building, The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg seamlessly complements both the industrial heritage and the design-led aspects of the Autostadt with an interior design that reflects nature and natural elements. A unique environment that discusses and celebrates design, sustainability and innovation of man and machine, the contemporary art collection in the hotel echoes the various art and design museums in this large complex. The “glass forest” – a freely-organised masterpiece of hand-blown glass by Savanti of Murano inspired by bamboo trees in the hotel’s lobby – leads visitors into the hotel, giving just a taste of the hand-crafted finishes and beautiful simplicity of the interior design to be enjoyed inside.
The clean lines of the hotel reflect those of an automobile – no excessive flummeries, just a pared down aesthetic enlivened with artisan pieces to please a design-literate clientele. A world away from The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company’s more traditionally styled hotels, this property has become known for its style, its location, for impeccable service standards and for its Michelin starred food offerings.
The well-known Ritz-Carlton attention to detail was apparently what attracted Volkswagen to the hotel brand in the first place, attributes which in turn, complement this premier German car marque – a marriage made in heaven, some might say.
The premier restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg is the award-winning Aqua restaurant headed by chef de cuisine Sven Elverfeld. The restaurant opens out into a private garden area where a large shell filled with water creates a serene, Zen-like atmosphere. The perfect backdrop to Sven’s often surprising, beautifully detailed, European-influenced and flavoursome dishes.
Unsurprisingly decorated with three Michelin-stars since 2009, the only Wolfsburg restaurant to be so honoured, the materials and surfaces in the restaurant’s interiors have a nature theme. Woven metal curtains and mirrored walls create a shimmering effect and the centrepiece of the restaurant is a two-metre round chandelier with organic glass drops dropping down from a copper domed fitting – all reminiscent of water, reflecting the restaurant’s name.
Enjoy farm to fork dining at Terra with menus determined both by the season and by the story of the ingredients themselves. The result is fresh, healthy cuisine with vegan and vegetarian dishes on the menu alongside meat and fish specialities. The luxuriously sleek look of the restaurant contrasts well with the industrial plant opposite. Decorated in earth tones, there is also a beautiful wood-panelled private dining room available.
The popular Newman’s Bar, inspired by American saloons reimagined in Germany, offers an oval wall of amber boxes lit by shafts of light with seating areas given privacy by a circular curtain of gold mesh. Try the local gins with tonic and perhaps enjoy a cigar from the bar’s humidor in a fragrant, papyrus leaf-lined smoking lounge.
The open Lobby Lounge features spectacular views out over the Autostadt complex with comfortable seating arranged around a beautiful double sided central contemporary white marble fireplace – the perfect place to enjoy Afternoon Tea or to take a coffee.
When the sun shines, The Ritz-Carlton Terrace – with its Champagne Bar - is a welcome al fresco retreat to enjoy a coupe, take a light snack, or to enjoy lunch and dinner looking out over the grounds, harbour basin and the industrial landscape.
The Ritz-Carlton Strategy for environmental responsibility has several strategic objectives including reducing energy and water consumption, increasing local and organic dining options by partnering with local farmers, growers and seafood providers and sourcing environmentally preferred products. They also empower hotel development partners to build green hotels and engage and inspire employees and guests in conservation efforts.
The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg has also teamed up with several local partners to make a difference through their Community Footprints initiative to try to have an impact on child well-being, hunger and poverty relief and environmental responsibility in their local area.