As usual, GTspirit strives to find and test the most unique and extraordinary hotels and resorts around the globe. And for petrolheads, The Ritz-Carlton amidst the Autostadt in Wolfsburg is certainly a location that stands out from the vast majority of five star hotels in Europe. Having stayed only one night, which is clearly not enough, we are sharing our impressions with you in this review.
Located on the grounds of the huge, 28 hectare sized, Autostadt the hotel first opened its doors in 2000 together with the opening of the Autostadt but received a major refurbishment only last year and is therefore very much up to date with current technology and everything looks brand new. Back then, it has been the first The Ritz-Carlton property in Europe. The hotel accommodates 147 rooms and 23 suites with the 220 m² Black & White Suites being the largest and most luxurious of them all.
The interior of the hotel was initially designed by Andrée Putman, a french designer. During the refurbishment in 2014, Paris-based US-designer Elliott Barnes gave the interior a fresh new look while keeping the concept originally introduced by Andrée Putman. Elliott Barnes put even more focus on a cosy home-like feel in the hotel with warm, brown color shades and concave forms that are found throughout the hotel providing a welcome feeling.
We found it extremely fascinating how well the hotel fits into the otherwise very industrial area of the Volkswagen factory that is the size of Gibraltar. We were told that the roof surface only covers the size of Monaco. So a five star superior resort isn’t exactly what you would expect in such an environment, however facing the historic building of Volkswagen’s own powerplant, this has a very special emotion to it.
A great amount of people who stay at The Ritz-Carlton Wolfsburg are in the process of taking delivery of their new Volkswagen in the Autostadt, but even for day visitors the hotel is worth a stay.
The Rooms and Suites
The hotel’s 147 rooms have a size of 35 m² and are facing either the beautiful Autostadt park with its green hills and small rivers or the inner harbour and powerplant. As with every other The Ritz-Carlton hotel, there is a Club area / Club lounge which in this hotel spans the whole level 4 (the top level). We opted to stay in one of the Club rooms which gives you the opportunity to do the check-in with a bit more privacy and offers a relaxed atmosphere as well as having access to food and drinks 24 hours per day.
If you book one of those rooms, breakfast is also served in the Club area of level 4 where you can enjoy a variety of egg dishes and you are served platters with meat, cheese and salmon directly to your table with a beautiful view over the Autostadt. Different types of cereals and delicious pastry completes the available choice to fit everyone’s demands. We found it to be a very convenient breakfast experience. The Club lounge is very beautifully appointed and with its various fireplaces gives you a very unwinding home-away-from-home feeling.
All of the rooms are contemporarily appointed and equipped with a huge king sized bed where we had a very comfortable sleep in. Of course, there is also a pillow menu to choose your favorite pillow from. Floor heating always provides a cosy feeling in the marble bathroom with a rainshower and separate bathtub that never leaves you with cold feet.
We also liked how absolutely silent our night was. There was no noise whatsoever, neither from the Club level nor from the outside. Very nice.
Aside from the standard rooms there are 23 more luxurious and more spacious suites to choose from. With 72 m² both the Executive Suites and Club-Suites are more than twice the size of a standard room and provide ample space for everybody. They also have panoramic windows with even better views of the park or the powerplant. The suites also come with a guest bathroom and some of them have a standalone bathtub. The Black & White Suites are the biggest with 220 m² and can be used by up to 4 people in two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a guest bathroom.
The Autostadt is attached to the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg and its delivery center, visitor attractions and a museum. Opened in 2000, it spans over 28 hectares and has received over 26 million visitors. The whole area is beautifully laid out with lush green hills and small rivers flowing through it. Numerous automobile attractions are there to entertain visitors, most of which combine the delivery of their new Volkswagen (or Seat) with a day at the Autostadt.
As one of the showplaces we checked out the Touareg Offroad Parcours where we could experience the offroad capabilities of Volkswagen’s SUV first hand and were quite surprised how little of its potential is probably ever used by its customers. We went over stairs, bumpy roads and climbed ascents that made us feel like we were going to flip over immediately. However, the Autostadt employee told us that this is still far from any critical point, which was really impressive.
The second attraction we couldn’t wait to try out was the so called “Turmfahrt” (tower-ride) in one of the two glass towers that can store up to 400 cars each before they’re delivered to the customers. About 500 cars are currently being delivered and picked up by customers in the Autostadt every day, seven days per week with the only exception being December 24th and 31st. Safely buckled up, we were being transported to the top of the tower on the platform that usually moves the cars up and down before they are being delivered to their customer. From the 48 meter high top, we had an amazing panoramic view over the Volkswagen factory, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel and most of Autostadt.
Eight pavilions showcase the models of the brands that belong to Volkswagen (Audi, Lamborghini, Seat, Skoda, Porsche, Volkswagen, Volkswagen commercial vehicles and Premium Clubhouse with a chrome Bugatti Veyron on display).
In the Zeithaus Musuem classic car lovers can admire rare automobiles from earlier days that can hardly be found anywhere else.
We were also given a tour of the “Autowerk” which is a part of the Groupforum, the main building on the grounds made from glass, where everybody starts their Autostadt experience when first arriving here.
“Autowerk” gives a closer insight about the production of the VW-brand cars. In five different stages, one can experience the different processes of producing a car first hand. To make this experience as interesting as possible they took cutaways of 5 different full-scale models of cars such as the Bentley Continental GT, Lamborghini Aventador, Porsche Panamera and VW Golf GTI in different stages of production. iPads at each of the cutaways explain in greater detail the corresponding production step.
There’s plenty more to see and do in the Autostadt, so one day certainly wasn’t enough for us to see everything but we highly recommend going there and checking it all out for yourself if you are in the area.
The SPA and Pool
The floating pool is located at the inner harbour and provides an astonishing view of the Volkswagen powerplant in the background. Despite the cold and rainy weather in October, we enjoyed swimming a few laps in the heated 40 meters pool. The hotel uses the powerplant’s waste heat to warm up the pool to a pleasant 29 degrees Celsius, so you can have a swim all year round, if you are brave enough to get in and out of the pool at cooler temperatures. We rushed back into the hotel quickly after getting out of the hot pool when it was rainy and 8 degrees outside.
The gym with its panoramic windows that face the pool and the powerplant is a great place to exercise and stay fit. There is also a small SPA area available for treatments and saunas and steam rooms to recharge your batteries.
There are two restaurants that you can choose from, Aqua, a gourmet restaurant with three Michelin stars where Chef de Cuisine Sven Elverfeld pampers you with modern, European food at the highest stage and Terra, a more casual restaurant that is also open for lunch.
Greatest emphasis has been placed on using only regional products where the supply chain of the natural, untreated ingredients can be exactly tracked. Apart from delicious meat and fish dishes the focus has been put on a variety of vegeterian and vegan dishes. The wine list also consists of mainly German and European bottles.
We happily tried out Terra and were enjoying the mouthwatering dishes we ordered there. Salad was prepared right at our table with the different fresh ingredients and a salad dressing of your choice in a wooden bowl made from olive trees. The meat and vegetables were also cooked to perfection while the waiters always have been attentive and very friendly.
With one of only two properties in Germany, The Ritz-Carlton Wolfsburg in the center of the Autostadt is indeed a hotel that is unique. Not only for buyers of new Volkswagens who expect the delivery of their car, but for anyone it is worth a visit. The hotel gives you a very warm welcome feeling as soon as you step towards the entrance and friendly employees open the heavy doors for you. The staff are kind, attentive and helpful, just as you would expect it from a five star superior hotel. It’s the little details that make all the difference and these really helped us enjoy our stay as much as possible, especially in such an interesting location for petrolheads.