Ups and downs of the restoration
The Romantik Hotel Landhaus Bärenmühle stands in majestic seclusion. For almost 500 years, two water wheels turned here in the valley, and the energy of the stream was used to grind grain and strike oil. Today, the estate is home to a stylish country hotel. Around the year 2000, work began on restoring the old mill in several construction phases. "It was an adventure," says hotel manager Christiane Kohl, "and it still is today. Because when you renovate a half-timbered house, "you always experience new surprises".
The Bärenmühle is her childhood home. And so, together with her sister Bettina Kohl, she had decided at some point to convert the property, which was first mentioned in 1554, into a hotel. A total of five buildings were gradually restored. The old mill house, which today houses a cosy romantic suite as well as various guest rooms with a magnificent view of the landscape. Where the mill wheels once turned, guests can now look out over the bathing pond, which was created with the help of the old millrace. In the barn house, the old quarry stone masonry was extensively renovated and today radiates a very special, rural charm.
Restaurant "Maison Martron"
Here you will find the restaurant "Maison Martron", named after a former resident of the Bärenmühle - the Huguenot Anna Elisabeth Martron, who came to the region with other French religious refugees at the end of the 17th century. The Huguenot house, a masonry building presumably erected by Anna Matron's father around 1735, now houses two cosy suites with visible roof beams after thorough renovation. The former chicken coop has been turned into a "Wellnest" with sauna and relaxation room. And finally, there was the old smithy that used to stand in a neighbouring village. A charming little house, unfortunately acutely threatened. "The building was listed as a historical monument, but was to be demolished," reports Christiane Kohl, "so we dismantled it without further ado and rebuilt it here according to the old plans". Today, the old forge houses the hotel reception. "Over the course of time, we have become real timber frame experts," Kohl reports about the renovation work. Sometimes a rotten beam had to be replaced that had previously been considered completely intact. Sometimes an old quarry stone wall threatened to break away, which had to hold up half a house. Sometimes building sins committed in the 1960s had to be removed. "In order to work properly, we first needed the right materials," the builders report. So they built up various stores of materials: Old oak beams were sought and sometimes driven in from all over Germany, piles of stones were put together with the most diverse stones - whether field stones and old "cat's heads", as roughly hewn basalt stones used as paving stones are called, or centuries-old sandstones and hand-baked bricks used for repairing house walls. "Old houses need old materials" is the experience of the builders.
Meanwhile, certain modern building materials are downright poison for a historic half-timbered house. "With modern paints, for example, which seal off the surfaces and cannot breathe, entire half-timbered houses have already been renovated to ruin," Kohl reports. The half-timbered houses in the Bärenmühle complex were all treated only with linseed oil: The oil is mixed with powdered pigments and then painted hot onto the beams - "this can only be done by hand, but there is nothing better for the sustainable conservation of an exterior beam," Kohl claims.
The Bärenmühle today
Today, the Bärenmühle is a country hotel with 15 rooms and suites, a stylish retreat in enchanting nature where you can be pampered like in an old-style country estate. It offers the true luxury of our days, the very amenities that are becoming increasingly rare in our hectic times: Delicious food made from fresh, regional products, tasteful surroundings with evening conversation by the fireplace, and relaxing tranquillity in a magnificent natural setting. The sauna house with bathing pond in the greenery invites guests to decelerate with massages, yoga and forest bathing excursions. Off the beaten track, they enjoy the true luxury of our time here: fresh air, scenic expanses and, above all, an unbelievable silence by today's standards.