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Independent Minds: Donatus Landgrave of Hesse, Schlosshotel Kronberg

Many castles have a storied past, but Schlosshotel Kronberg has seen the likes of Queen Victoria and Tsar Nicholas II stay within its art-filled walls and antique-laden halls. Originally built as the summer residence of Empress Victoria Friedrich in 1893, who affectionately referred to the castle as her “country home”, Schlosshotel Kronberg is now cherished by her great-grandson, Donatus Landgrave of Hesse, and his family who opened the house to the public in 1954.

What does being ‘Independently Minded’ as an hotel owner mean to you?

In independent hotels, owners have great freedom to reflect their own preferences in the design to create an atmosphere characterised by high recognition and a strong personal touch. Compared to chain hotels, privately owned hotels don’t have to adhere to strict corporate standards. Instead, guests experience an ambiance of a private home that will be remembered for its distinctiveness and beautiful details – but not always for its practicality.

What was the inspiration behind the hotel, and where do you continue to find sources of inspiration?

My great-great-grandmother, Empress Victoria Friedrich, built Schlosshotel Kronberg and the castle park as her residence in 1893. Known as the wife of Emperor Friedrich, who ruled for 99 days, Victoria was a true visionary, astute interlocutor, and most importantly a generous host. As the daughter of the legendary Queen Victoria, she was formative for her time. Each day we draw inspiration from her and the castle’s history, while at the same time ensuring that we meet all requirements necessary to experience contemporary luxury at its best.

How do you think your hotel stands apart from other boutique hotels?

Upon entering the secluded 48-hectare castle park, an aura of a special kind settles over our guests. Lush gardens, a beautiful rose garden and 18-hole golf course set the scene. Unlike other grand hotels, which may have to create an atmosphere, first-class hospitality authentically meets first-hand European history at Schlosshotel Kronberg.

The Empress brought the court gardener Hermann Walter to Kronberg from Potsdam, who laid out the park in the English style according to her ideas. Two English gardeners were hired to look after the grounds, which also included a nursery, a terrace-like Italian rose garden and a grotto with a waterfall.

If you only had 24 hours to get a taste for your hotel experience, what would you recommend a guest must do?

I would recommend staying in our iconic Castle Royal Suite, which perfectly combines an antique feel with contemporary comfort. For those who prefer a little more seclusion, our Tower Suite with spectacular 270-degree views of the castle garden and the Rhine-Main-Area is the ideal choice.

During the summer, I would suggest enjoying at least one of your meals on our terrace overlooking the park, accompanied by a glass of wine from the hotel’s own winery. In the colder months, our English Afternoon Tea in the original library of the Empress is a must.

There are also plenty of cultural and historical attractions nearby. Just 11 miles from the castle, guests can explore a collection of seven hundred years of European art at the Städel Museum, Germany’s oldest museum foundation. Those interested in natural history should go to the Senckenberg Museum, one of the most important natural history museums in all of Europe, with a seriously impressive exhibition.

Should our guests prefer a day excursion, I highly recommend a visit to the city if Darmstadt just 28 miles away and known as the cradle of Art Nouveau. The Landesmuseum in Darmstadt is worth a visit offering a diverse collection of art, culture and natural history. Alternatively, Schlossmuseum Fasanerie, located 74 miles away from the castle offers vast baroque gardens and a collection of precious art and antiques displaying the art collection of my family.

How would you describe your own perfect luxury experience?

For me, luxury is not defined by a price tag and it is not something which can be bought. Instead, for me, luxury is the perfect match between my personal needs at a specific point in time and a corresponding experience. Therefore, luxury can range from simple experiences such as enjoying a cappuccino on our sun terrace overlooking the lush castle garden to attending a festive and spectacular gala evening with friends.

Do you have a vision for the future of the hotel?

With an identity that is strongly inspired by a long tradition in forestry, agriculture and viticulture within the House of Hesse, we have always strived to preserve cultural and natural assets while developing our products and services further to create extraordinary experiences. Going forwards, I would like to strengthen the character of Schlosshotel Kronberg for it to become a cultural destination and garden resort in its own right.