A German hotel for honeymooners They do: The Hochzeitshaus "wedding house" in Bremen doesn't have a lot of space, but it's just right for just-marrieds.

March 10, 1996|By R.C. Longworth | R.C. Longworth,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

BREMEN, Germany -- With German precision and a modesty appropriate to its size, the Hochzeitshaus bills itself as "probably the smallest hotel in the world."

This may or may not be true. The place certainly is tiny: a row house barely 12 feet wide, basically a single vertical suite three stories high.

It's not only small but cozy, which is more to the point, because Hochzeitshaus means "wedding house," and the hotel is designed with honeymoon romance in mind.

Back in the Middle Ages, many German cities had wedding houses for young couples who trekked into town to get married at the cathedral but needed a place to spend their wedding night before catching the morning ox cart back home for the rest of their lives.

The custom was revived two years ago here in Bremen, an historic old city but not exactly famed for romance. It's a Hanseatic port and industrial town, heavily bombed in World War II, now burdened by an economy that has seen better days.

But Bremen has a lovely restored district, called Schnoor, which is a cobbled maze of fish restaurants, art shops and atmospheric old beer halls. The Hochzeitshaus is in the heart of Schnoor, at Wuste Statte 5. It's down an alley and hard to find, but the waiters at the Katzen-Cafe, or Cats Cafe, next door, will point the way.

There's no doorman, no reception, no room service, no $l concierge. Instead, there's Sigrid Dovener, who runs the Konditorei im Schnoor, a bakery a block away and manages the hotel for the owner, Ortwin Fritsche. Frau Dovener makes sure the newlyweds are safely ensconced, then retires tactfully to her cake shop, from which she delivers a champagne breakfast every morning.

The Hochzeitshaus is three small rooms, one on each floor.

The entry hall has a small stove and a table with six stools, in case the honeymooners get bored and want company.

A flight of shiny wooden steps leads up to a bathroom with a whirlpool bath and a very small sitting room no more than a couch and a TV set. A single cot folds out from one wall "for the mother-in-law, or the first wife," Frau Dovener says.

The top floor is the bedroom "the romantic room with the heaven-bed," the hotel brochure croons. The double bed has a lace canopy but, in the German style, two single mattresses laid side by side inside the double frame.

The room is barely big enough for the bed plus one chair, in pink leather. There are flowers on the table, an "emergency exit" sign on one window and, in the corner, a red fire extinguisher and a first aid kit.

The view from the bedroom is charming, out over the Cats Cafe and the gabled roofs of Schnoor. Unfortunately, the view back into the bedroom from the office building across the way is pretty good, too, if the curtains aren't drawn.

And that's about it. The hotel is pretty and modern in a north German way, neither kitschy nor coy, with no mirrors on the ceiling or framed pictures of soaring cupids. For a couple who only have eyes for each other, there's no distraction except for that slippery wooden staircase: Romping between floors is unwise.

The Hochzeitshaus doesn't come cheap. Two weekend nights cost about $550, with that champagne breakfast and two bicycles thrown in. Two weeknights are $535, and one weeknight is about $390.

The guest book carries not only testimonials from past guests but their pictures, too. So far, all the guests have been German, Swiss or Austrian. The hotel is booked on weekends through the spring not only by newlyweds but also by old married couples celebrating an anniversary.

Frau Dovener speaks no English but says that the owner does. Reservations can be made through the Bremen Tourist Bureau (011-49-421-30-80-00) or through the owner, Ortwin Fritsche (telephone 011--49--421--32--32--32 or fax 011--49--421- 339--88--88).

Pub Date: 3/10/96

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