Better story Under the Sign of the Grimm’s Dictionary

Ralf Gude, Hotel Gude

The Gude family invites you to the Documenta city and home of the brothers Grimm: Kassel

Kassel is rarely found in any list of the most popular holiday destinations in Germany. But the city is actually located centrally and at a reasonable distance from any major German city. Besides, every five years Kassel hosts the world-famous art exhibition Documenta and was also the home of the brothers Grimm during their studies and beyond.

Hotel Gude is a family owned business in third generation, located in Niederzwehren, a historic district of Kassel. What makes this hotel so special is its entire design, inspired by the work of the Brothers Grimm.

In 2003, Ralf Gude took over the house from his parents and led it into the digital age. This is also reflected by the fact that all radiators in the 89 rooms of the house are controlled automatically by a central system. The system iQ Roomcontrol does quite exactly what the name promises: controlling the temperature in every room. It ensures that only occupied rooms are heated. The system detects when a window is opened and regulates the heating accordingly. In addition, the rooms are heated to the desired temperature prior to the guests’ arrival. All Ralf Gude had to do for the installation of iQ Roomcontrol was to attach radio thermostats to the individual radiators and to distribute a few controllers in the building. These controllers communicate with the computer-controlled system via radio – which means there was no need for constructional measures.

Hotel room in Hotel Gude with the intelligent room control iQ Roomcontrol
Hotel room in Hotel Gude with the intelligent room control iQ Roomcontrol

“We often have to renovate or convert during operation“

Gude has got enough of constructional measures, anyways. In a house of this size, minor or major construction works and repairs are regularly necessary. One of the reasons is that the hotel consists of several building parts, all built at different times. “Big hotel chains simply build everything at once. Here we often have to renovate or convert during operation“, Gude says.

Guests are just as unaware of the reconstruction measures as they are unaware of the heating technology that runs in the background. Quite the contrary – it becomes obvious quickly that there is one recurring theme throughout Hotel Gude: the German dictionary, which was begun by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm and is now the most comprehensive dictionary of the German language. The Brothers Grimm started their large-scale project in the middle of the nineteenth century – but its completion quickly turned out to be illusory. They never made it past the letter “F”.

Hotel manager Mr. Gude in the hotel lobby
Hotel manager Mr. Gude in the hotel lobby

Loving details as far as the eye can see

It was not until 1961 that the project was completed. The spirit of the Brothers Grimm now continues to live in Hotel Gude. Wooden signs decorate a wall in the reception area, each engraved with the first and last word of the 32 volumes of the Grimm dictionary. “Biermörder” (“Beer Murderer”) and “Seeleben” (“Sea Life”) are just two of those words, words that sound strange somehow and fallen out of time. Other words are embedded in the floor, all of them carrying a special meaning and relation to the hotel, but also functioning as decorative elements. In the lobby or on the reception counter: Small, loving and thoughtful details can be found anywhere. At first sight, those details are simply beautiful but, at second glance, reveal a connection to the Grimm theme.

Despite all this, Hotel Gude does not want to come across as a university library. “We are happy when our guests are interested and want to know more. But we don’t want to lecture them in any way”, says Ralf Gude. For him, the Grimm’s Dictionary is rather a beautiful story and orientation in the design of his hotel and less an intellectual showing off.

Radio thermostat in the Hotel Gude
Radio thermostat in the Hotel Gude

„They wanted to hang a big logo in my lobby. But this is not a house of a large hotel chain.“

Small details in every room and suite are also reminiscent of the Brothers Grimm. All in all, guests live and sleep in light-flooded rooms, equipped with high-quality furniture, including chairs designed by Ray and Charles Eames. A weakness for siblings can hardly be denied in the Hotel Gude.

Professor de Jong, who teaches communication design at the University of Arts in Folkwang, selected some of the furniture and materials used in the Hotel Gude. Architects, on the other hand, are less trustworthy for Ralf Gude: “They wanted to hang a big logo in my lobby. But this is not a house of a large hotel chain.”

The hotel owner prefers to strive for individuality and special characteristics. This is expressed not only by the fact that he chose to hang wooden signs in his lobby, displaying terms from the German dictionary: The rooms also differ from each other and are painted in different colours. “I want guests to remember our rooms.”

Guests obviously do not only remember the rooms, they also recommend the hotel. The reputation of Hotel Gude as the premier hotel in Kassel has made its way up to the top. Important members of the political and cultural elites regularly choose to stay in Ralf Gude’s hotel. Norbert Lammert stayed here during a campaign tour, the artist pair Christo and Jeanne-Claude stopped by during Documenta and even Joachim Gauck, Udo Lindenberg and Loriot were already here. Better references are hard to come by.

Coins embedded in the wood of the hotel lobby at Hotel Gude
Coins embedded in the wood of the hotel lobby at Hotel Gude

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