Die Krone in Weil: A travel story about art, nature and divine food

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When your stomach says: „I want to live here, I want to stay here, here i can breath …“, when your mind says: „You have a great life and a beautiful home“ and when your husband keeps calling out: „Wow, it’s so great here! More precisely, in the Hotel Krone + Design, where the most beautiful hospitality is combined with a noble ambience in every room, and all that at moderate prices. The Krone is located in the middle of the Markgräflerland, also known as the „Tuscany of Germany“, the charming southernmost part of Germany, including the border triangle with Switzerland and France. We are at the Krone for a wonderful long weekend. Here you’ll find divine food, the best regional wine and plenty of scenery as soon as you step out of the hotel and turn to where the vines show you the romantic way.

After arriving, however, we don’t go anywhere but over to the modern extension of the Krone, to the summer restaurant: it’s Saturday evening, a warm June day in the Markgräfler Land and the terrace under the old chestnut trees is open. In summer, which here can easily go from April to October, apart from a few weather interruptions, the restaurant of the Krone is toujours outdoor. We settle down between high double walls with a flash of colour by Samuel Treindl. The colourful artworks separate the tables visually and quite practically in Corona times. Actually, a special event with the artist from Münster was planned – Corona let the Art Basel and thus also the event fall through.

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I am miles away from being an art connoisseur, but I like to consume pictures and the like! Art has something liberating for me, or to put it another way: when I look and marvel, I have the feeling that everything small-minded falls away from me and my creative motor, aura or whatever you call it, is pushed. Good feeling! At home, I hang, decorate and put up whatever touches my heart and doesn’t immediately give my bank account a blow from which it never recovers. On this Saturday, Samuel Treindl’s lacquer-enriched walls spark great artistic desires in me, or is it the wine?

A hotel like a cloud

Sonja Hechler is the hotel manager at the Krone, in the third generation, and one of the few hosts who recognises her guest’s wishes, even if you don’t have a clue about them yourself. For example, I don’t know that there is even unfiltered wine from the Gutedel grape – one of the oldest grape varieties in the world, by the way. I longed for a nice glass of wine that „rolls wonderfully pleasantly over the tongue“, my answer to the wine question. My knowledge of grapes is as far off as my understanding of art. But here too: I like to consume! (I’ll leave the sentence as it is. „Bohème“, the unfiltered wine – slightly cloudy, fine and fresh – was added to my modest collection of vines in several cases after our visit to the Schneider winery – 5 minutes‘ walk from the Krone).

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Describing Sonja Hechler and her crown is only possible imperfectly. The lady boss „does service“, smiling (and very good-looking!) as she goes from table to table on the summer terrace. Hospitality is not something that is strived for here, but is lived warmly and with all the senses. Perfect rituals intertwine in service and cuisine, because what we later have in front of us as starters, main courses and desserts is a perfect feast for the eyes and the palate. Chef Peter Prüfer delivers dishes at the highest level of taste. „Where wine grows, the cuisine is special,“ he tells me. The Krone lies in the middle of the special: In the vineyards, in the sun-drenched growing areas of fruit & vegetables, close to regional farmers and, of course, crunchingly close to gourmet France! What comes into the kitchen is what has flourished magnificently, from the region and from suppliers who enjoy the chef’s trust. You can taste it, but hello! Our dinner to become -suspicious: Tartar of pasture-raised beef (my husband). Klabsbries with summer truffles (me). For the main course, cod & crayfish with young carrots and potato straw (both of us). And for dessert, there’s only room at my place – a berry sorbet with vintner’s sparkling wine and mint. The evening is lovely, a little tipsy and feels so, so good!

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Life is short, precious and in the lockdown for all of us, and hotel owners in particular, it is no longer a wish-fulfilling concert: Sonja (it didn’t take us long to end up with „you“) is a courageous woman, blessed with visions and an A-plus chef. Within one evening – the Chasselas was certainly there – they had the idea of the Krone-Drive-In out of the ground as a team: everything organic, everything healthy, everything consistently delicious! Those who came didn’t even have to get out of the car, from the first few days of staying at home there was eating pleasure up to a maximum of 20 euros handed through the side window. „It wasn’t supposed to be fancy, but affordable,“ the boss remembers. The practical side effect: everything in the refrigerator was used up, nothing was thrown away! Sustainability in Corona times – I can’t even manage that in my normal chaotic everyday life!

In the middle of art & nature

At the Krone, there is no better moment for art & nature than always! The next day, we leave our stylish room early – well, 5 minutes before the official end of breakfast – and then go on the bike art tour. I wear my favourite blouse and jeans, the latter parked overnight in our Vitra design chair, which by the way decorates every room in the old building in a colourful dialogue with differently patterned Sanderson wallpaper. You have to use art in everyday life, I learn later in the current Vitra design exhibition, „Home Stories. 100 years, 20 visionary interiors“. How nice, I’m way ahead of the game there, I’ve been cultivating the sometimes relentless everyday approach for a long time, it’s only visionary objects that are lacking in my everyday life.

Hach Design! For the uninitiated like me, 24 installations, glaringly unmissable, point the way on the bike tour from art to even more art. It starts right behind the hotel – that is, three vines away. Colourful, huge sculptures by the sculptor Tobias Rehberger, which connect the Fondation Beyeler in Basel (we admired the Edward Hopper exhibition there!) with the Vitra Design Museum in Weil. You can also book the Hopper & more offer from the Krone, which includes special days at a special rate for art and design lovers: for example, the Fondation Beyeler, Vitra Campus and Kunst im Kesselhaus in Weil am Rhein.

We swing ourselves into the po-comfy saddle of the monochrome cream-coloured hotel bike – so stylish! The Bykes are provided by the Krone for free. (I immediately googled them for home, after all we are in the bike boom summer of 2020 – thanks to Corona(!) – and I don’t have one!).

What we encounter monumentally at the Vitra Campus Museum is the epicentre of good taste. An architectural ensemble with buildings by legends such as Tadao Ando, Frank Gehry or Zaha Hadid. The Vitra Design Museum is part of the grounds. It houses the world’s most important collections of furniture design. You stand there and look and marvel and wish you had just one chair, armchair, couch, table, vase – no matter what, just one of these great design monuments of everyday life!

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The epicentre of good taste

And that’s why you go to the adjacent shop after the exhibition and buy a three-piece stackable art tray (us!) or an art book or a children’s toy, vase or actually a chair. It makes you feel a little special too, and you’re not shrunk back to normal right at the exit – you know, the aura! I feel elated, light and free, I feel the free spirit of the avant-garde – inside me. Our take-away art treasure sways in front of me, lashed to the bike luggage seat, and I smile silently with happiness, my head filled with great art images. And maybe also a bit because I know all these design greats on my smartphone – so just to be on the safe side, so I still know later what I’ve seen!

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I get to talk again on the tour back to the Krone. A quick change of clothes in our room, then we have a date with Sonja. I’m looking forward to the evening! „Why change?“ my husband asks, staying as he is. „You look fine!“ The female outfit, according to the occasion, the mood, the time of year and the time of day, and in addition dressing and looking good in a comfortable rhythm with oneself and explaining all this to (m)a man – that actually leads too far away from this article now. Just this: I slipped into my new black wrap by SOSUE, with dainty mules by Mango. This time we didn’t go by bike, but by Sonja’s car up into the vineyards. A breathtaking view of the same awaited us, along with the finest sparkling wine from the Schneider winery and wonderful stories from Sonja’s hotel days in 5-star hotels in London. There are those special moments in life that become engraved in the memory, this aperitif time-out was one of them.

We all have a routine everyday life, with Corona it gets even more structure, a whole pandemic corset. I wish us all such a little carefree time-out – preferably every day! A pause, like in this wonderful wine region, where you get a little closer to yourself again. It feels so good!

That evening we went to the Binzer Mühle: the hotel and restaurant also belongs to the Krone and is run by Sonja’s partner Fabio. But that’s another story, with mega delicious Italian food! This June weekend was wonderfully warm – lots of sun in Markgräfler-Land! We talked about God-and-the-world and decided that we would book an autumn weekend for our „Charisma can do anyone!“ seminar at the Krone in October. Take a look at Coaching for more information on dates and the programme! There will also be a special by chef Peter Prüfer at the Krone: What can Detox do? If you want, you can try it out right away during the seminar.