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Different by design

When you’d rather not stay at a Hilton, Marriott or Plaza

Opening Grand Hotels was all the rage in Bolzano when the Laurin opened in 1910. To discourage other investors, Franz Staffler simply built his hotel faster. Ever since, the Stafflers have steered their hotel with a unique blend of ingenuity and foresight. Today the Laurin combines state-of-the-art technology with modern service that exceeds your expectations. If you see something old, it’s because we never found anything better. Like our guests, we appreciate the good things in life.
Hotel owner Franz Staffler and conductor Gustav Kuhn

Comings and goings

A hotel ‘breathes’ with the people who come and go. When the Laurin opened in 1910, tourism was just getting on its feet in South Tyrol. Soon, the imperial family from Vienna and counts from Germany were announcing their arrival. In 1937, Italy’s king Viktor Emmanuel dined at the Laurin with Benito Mussolini. The Dalai Lama always takes breakfast at 4.30am; Chuck Berry liked to order food in his room at 2am. When the volcano Eyjafjallajökull erupted on Iceland, Angela Merkel asked for 70 rooms at short notice. Movie director Wim Wenders knows the Laurin from the Bolzano Film Festival, and Italian rock musician Vasco Rossi has also stayed with us. When Gustav Kuhn was chief conductor of the Bolzano Haydn Orchestra, he stayed at the Laurin for 50 days a year. ”That was my way of sponsoring culture,” says Franz Staffler. In return Gustav Kuhn, who today is artistic director of the Tyrol Festspiele Erl, says that of all the hotels in the world, the Laurin is his favourite.
If it’s good, it stays


A successful team: Staffler and Podrecca

Boris Podrecca is the go-to architect for the Laurin’s owner, Franz Staffler. The Viennese architect is cosmopolitan and modern, yet knows how to work with historical buildings too. Franz Staffler tasked him and Bolzano architect Albert Mascotti with renovating the Laurin. For years, no stone or tile was left unturned behind the facade. Podrecca later went on to build Hotel Greif. “We are friends now,“ says Franz Staffler.

Together, the owner and the architect decided to keep all the art-nouveau cherry wood or matte-finish painted furniture that was still serviceable, together with the high-maintenance old double windows and costly wooden blinds. The window and door handles were too beautiful to be replaced; the old marble floors were re-laid to look like rugs. Meanwhile, Boris Podrecca made design sketches for new chairs, beds and sofas, as well as for the carpets in the bar and salons. The pear tree wooden panelling was made in the hotel’s own cabinetmaking workshop, using his drawings as prototypes. “We often made five prototypes,” recalls Franz Staffler. ”Just because an architect draws a chair, doesn’t mean you can sit on it.“ At the Laurin, luxury shows in the little details. To the owner, that seems only natural. ”I want people to feel comfortable here. People who prefer not to stay at a Hilton, Marriott or Plaza.“
The art-nouveau façade today


A new soul for the Laurin

Franz Staffler, the owner of the Laurin and Hotel Greif, had only just finished university when he received his inheritance. It wasn’t easy. He had to revitalise two hotels that had not exactly aged gracefully. ”The Laurin Bar was a sad hotel hallway. When the porter had nothing to do, he made coffee at the bar.“ Franz Staffler was determined to change all that. The Greif was reborn as a Fine Arts Hotel, and the young Staffler rebuilt the Laurin from the ground up. His vision was clear: ”I want a hotel with a soul – not a chain hotel.”

He certainly succeeded. Franz Staffler selected fabrics, tested mattresses, discussed the artworks for the rooms, restaurant and park, scrutinised the historical furniture and decided what to keep and what to replace. “I never delegate anything that affects the character of the hotel.“

Franz Staffler knows every corner and every door handle in the Laurin. He is more critical than any guest, yet has only ever stayed here once himself (when he forgot his house keys). His first memory of the Laurin is as a child. ”We played football in the park and disturbed the guests.“ Today he installs sculptures of his favourite animals there instead: elephants.
Shaping politics at the Laurin


Politics in the salon

When World War II broke out, the hotel closed and became the headquarters of Defi, the Italian Options Commission. South Tyrol has belonged to Italy since 1919. In 1939, Hitler and Mussolini forced South Tyroleans to choose between staying in Italy, or migrating to Germany. Those who left had to appear before the Defi and haggle over the value of the property they were leaving behind. Among local families, discussion and conflicting opinions were rife. Soon the war reached Bolzano and the Laurin too: the hotel was severely damaged in air raids and only re-opened in 1948. The new guests were a different breed: ambitious businessmen and modern city tourists.


War in the hotel

Just four years after the hotel opened, tourism in South Tyrol came to an abrupt halt when World War I literally walked through the front door of the Laurin. During the Dolomite wars between Austria and Italy, the Austro-Hungarian command was the first to reside in style at the Laurin, followed in 1918 by the Italian high command. In his 1960 memoirs, Max Staffler describes how the officers’ spurs scratched every chair leg, and the wallpaper was festooned with erotic newspaper cuttings. The hotel made no money until the twenties; when it did, it invested it immediately in hand basins in all rooms, and a few luxurious bathrooms.


Laurin guests refuel at the pump

The Laurin has always enjoyed a premium location next to Bolzano railway station. But when Franz Staffler and sons Max and Franz junior noticed more and more guests preferred automobiles, they built their own hotel garage. With admirable foresight, they also applied for permission to install a petrol pump. The residents of Bolzano were incensed, saying petrol had always been delivered in barrels, and cars should refuel the traditional way with a hand pump. The hotel owners appealed successfully to the ministry in Vienna – and Bolzano got its very own petrol pump, the third in all Austro-Hungary (after Vienna and Prague).
Postcard with the hotels Laurin and Bristol, 1910
One of the most modern hotels on Europe


An electrifying experience

Higher, better, faster ... the Laurin was one of Europe’s most modern hotels when it opened in 1910. All rooms had electric lighting; there were central vacuum cleaners, lifts powered by compressed air and fire alarms that never slept. Laurin founder Franz Staffler (I) was also a driver of progress beyond the walls of his new hotel. Like other wealthy Bolzano entrepreneurs, he supported the building of the Stadttheater Bolzano and helped fund the construction of tourist routes into the Dolomites. He knews it takes more than a hotel to keep guests happy.
A bed in the style of Brothers Ludwig
A cosmopolitan hotel


The youthful flair of the Brothers Ludwig

Founder Franz Staffler wanted a hotel like the ones he had seen in major cities – and in the Brothers Ludwig, he found architects who also knew which style would suit South Tyrol. Alois and Gustav Ludwig had offices in Vienna and Munich and had already built several hotels in South Tyrol. The Laurin was their breakthrough project. The brief: ”Give guests a home that makes them forget they are in a hotel.“ (Extract from the article Das Hotel König Laurin in Bozen in der Zeitschrift Innen-Dekoration, Darmstadt 1911). The brothers succeeded in squaring that circle. The historical style of the traditional Grand Hotel façade sent familiar signals to nobility and conservative upper classes, while the modern art-nouveau elements inside ensured up-to-the-minute comfort.

The Brothers Ludwig were originally from Brünn. Alois Ludwig studied under Otto Wagner and went on to work for his company; his younger brother Gustav worked in the USA for a while. After their success with the Laurin, they opened an office in Merano in 1911.
The Greif (Drawing Franz J. Lenhart)
The Bristol (Drawing Franz J. Lenhart)
The Laurin (Drawing Franz J. Lenhart)


Grand Hoteliers

Founder Franz Staffler senior was born in Ritten. He was already a wealthy man when he purchased the Gasthof Knoll in Bolzano in 1909 and built the König Laurin hotel in its place. The Stafflers had owned the Hotel Greif on Bolzano’s Waltherplatz since 1816, and also owned the nearby Hotel Bristol, which was replaced in 1961 by a commercial and residential building. On a public sign, Staffler announced that the Laurin would be completed within eighteen months. At the time even the blueprints were a work-in-progress, as the present owner Franz Staffler recalls. The deadline was duly met. Overwhelmed by the drive and determination of the Staffler family, two other investors who were both planning Grand Hotels nearby shelved their plans.
"Great location just by the train station. Beautiful lounge and lift (with seats!) with a wonderful garden and small pool. Lovely rooms with wonderful art. Good buffet breakfast with range of options. Recommended."
London, UK



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Parkhotel Laurin
Bolzano,South Tyrol, ItalyVia Laurin 4Tel.: +39 0471 311 000 / Fax: +39 0471 311148

Opening hours

7.00 am – 10.30 am
Every day
07.00 am - 01.00 am
Open 24 / 7
Check in from 3.00 pm, check out by 12.00 pm

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