In picturesque Freiburg, there’s a luxury hotel that houses a small display case that has an awful lot to tell about the Bundesrepublik of yore – and a certain German car manufacturer.
Anyone interested in finding out what West German glamour looked and smelt like ought to visit the city of Freiburg, Baden-Württemberg.
Not only is this one of the prettiest places to be found in the southern part of Germany, but it’s also home to the five star superior Colombi Hotel, which not only boasts all the amenities one can expect of a house of this category, but also offers all the flair of an era that’s ended quite a while ago.
At the Colombi Hotel, Helmut Kohl shall always remain the ‘eternal chancellor’. The reunification appears to be but a diffuse vision, whereas all the insignia of West German post-war wealth are there and present. When asked about the location of Germany’s seat of government, more senior guests might actually be tempted to reply ‘Bonn’.
The Colombi Hotel’s definition of luxury isn’t Feng Shui or WiFi connectedness, but bourgeois opulence and traditional courtesy.
It is the kind of place Wilfried, lifelong CDU voter and owner of a successful Mittelstand business would like. Wilfried isn’t a decadent chap, so he buys his suits off the rack, but he treats himself to good stuff every now and again. A nice steak, a weekend break at the Colombi with his wife, Isolde, and a new Mercedes S-class every three years or so.
Bearing this in mind, it makes perfect sense for the Swabian brand to do a bit of marketing at a place that’s so obviously suited to its clientele, even if it’s as just as unassuming as putting some merchandising articles in a glass cabinet that guests might stumble across when on their way to answer a call of nature.
Yet once one actually takes the time to pay attention what’s presented in said glass cabinet, the bubble of Olde Bundesrepublike cosiness bursts in an instant.
So there’s some scale models, obviously. That lined cup may be acceptable for Wilfried too, even though he doesn’t quite understand why anyone would put a piece of soft fabric into the dishwasher. But that USB stick, decorated with ‘Swarovski Crystal Fine Rocks’? Is Isolde supposed to wear that one around her neck? Or the set of Spritz drinking glasses: is that fingerprints printed on them? Wilfried doesn’t really care much for wine, but he got himself some Riedel glassware anyway, because he was told it’s good stuff. What is he supposed to do with a strange-looking Spritz glass then?
The Colombi Style – neither sensual, nor pure
Of course, Wilfried’s S-class isn’t a 300 SE or 560 SEL anymore, but an S350d Bluetec. He bought it, because he always buys the newest S-class. Even if those S63 AMGs in white with black wheels that are parked in front of the Colombi these days are a bit of an embarrassment to him. Or is Mercedes maybe embarrassed about him and his short-sleeved shirts?
Neither Wilfried, nor the Colombi Hotel really suit NuMerc, aka The Home of Sensual Purity®.
Whether that’s a good or a bad thing probably depends on whom one asks: Wilfried or Gorden Wagener.
The author of this piece runs an obscure motoring site of his own, which you may or may not choose to visit at www.auto-didakt.com