JOI-Design creates a spirited sanctuary at a 13th century pilgrimage site

Posted in Projects on 28 November, 2016

JOI-Design has recently completed the refurbishment of a 13-bedroom annex to the Altenberger Hof, a bijou boutique hotel looking onto the 13th century Altenberg Cathedral and the verdant meadows and forests of Bergisches Land in central Germany. With a fresh modern concept inspired by the cathedral’s hallowed architecture and the lush natural surrounds, the accommodation is now filled with the comforts required for a contemplative retreat for work and leisure.

Like the nearby cathedral, the hotel’s primary structure is centuries old. First used by Cistercian monks in ancient times, it then became an inn for religious pilgrims and today continues to welcome guests of both a spiritual and secular nature.

The designers have imagined a neutral concept with a restrained palette as befits the austere beauty of the historical stone exteriors; for example, bespoke carpeting throughout the hotel alludes to the flagstone floors at the neighbouring cathedral. With calming shades of white mixed with warm, earthy tones and judicious splashes of orange and red, the interiors rely on diverse materials, patterns and textures to build haptic and visual intrigue. Artwork and accessories offer a counterbalance to the understated elegance through playful touches which instil a sense of wellbeing in the peaceful, homelike environment.

Entrance hall, living & dining space

Upon entering the building, guests arrive in a light, open-plan room with a welcoming living area to the left and informal dining / meeting space on the opposite side. Cosy furniture placed around an open fireplace becomes an invitation to enjoy a relaxing moment with a glass of wine or a book borrowed from the in-house library. A communal table made from a dark stained timber has been fashioned to look like an old farmhouse door complete with keyhole and hinges, suggesting a bridge between ancient and modern times. Contemporary seating has been upholstered in taupe leather and fabric as copper wire-frame pendant lights infuse the space with warmth and pale grey paintwork enhances the cocooning ambience. Eye-catching, nature-themed accents bring the outside indoors and add a light-hearted mood in the space.

Conference room & lounge

The expansive meeting room has been designed with a semi-transparent curtain that enables the area to be used for two functions. One half is a formal meeting space with a long table and chairs that can be flexibly arranged to accommodate different size groups. Flanking the table are Vitra chairs specified in three colours, including the vivid orange seen elsewhere in the interiors, while two silvery velvet lounge chairs are suited for a tête à tête. In the break-out area at the other end of the room, stylish, modern seating with plentiful loose cushions creates a casual vibe where guests can relax with refreshments from the built-in chill cabinets.


As with the public spaces, guest bedrooms are deliberately simple and elegant, with contrasting neutral shades in quality finishes and fabrics. Modern bathrooms are equipped with generous showers; glossy dark grey tiles and screens made from smoked glass contrast with lighter-toned surfaces and vanity tops. Bedside lights and wall hooks formed from orange glass cast a warm, lively glow.

Images: Simone Ahlers for JOI-Design

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