Kesslerhof has been a prominent farm in Hinterzarten for centuries. Originating in the 12th century, it has 700 years of rich farming history. The farm complex included a granary, grist mill, sawmill, bakery, and the Leibgedinghaus, forming an integrated economic unit with the main building.
Historically, Black Forest farms like Kesslerhof were self-sufficient, producing everything needed for both the farm and its people. Even the craftsmen came into the house. In 1784, the Kesslerhof was home to a bustling community including the farmer’s family, farmhands, shepherds, maidservants, and more, along with the miller and baker families at the Kessler mill.
During the 15th century, the Kessler family were the proprietors of the farm. Notably, Bartli and Peter Kessler, alongside their wives, were recorded as generous donors to the “In der Zarten” church in the years 1470 and 1580. It was this family that imparted their name to the farm. The records then show the Birkenberger family emerging as owners, starting with the first mention of a Birkenberger in 1597. By 1608, a decade prior to the outbreak of the Thirty Years’ War, Konrad Birkenberger became the first in a line of Birkenbergers to farm the land. From Konrad onwards, an uninterrupted succession of seven Birkenbergers has managed the farm, each continuing the family’s agricultural legacy.
In 1655, on Funkensonntag, the Sunday following the general carnival known as “Burefasnet,” a tragic event struck the Kesslerhof. A glowing disc, thrown as part of the festivities, inadvertently caused the farm to catch fire and burn to the ground. Remarkably, by April 1st of the next year, a new building had risen from the ashes. This was a significant accomplishment, considering the construction used about 1,000 solid cubic meters of round timber, equivalent to roughly 275 logs, to build what was known as the “Heidenhaus.”
The reconstruction of the farmhouse became a monumental community effort, with numerous locals and craftsmen pitching in to help rebuild the Kesslerhof.
The site of today’s Hotel Kesslermühle was once home to the farm’s grinding mill and sawmill. These mills played a vital role in the self-sufficiency of Black Forest farmers, who would plant, grind, and bake their own bread. The mill’s first record dates back to 1680. Initially, the mill complex included a small house equipped with a water wheel, shaft, comb wheel, pinion gear, and millstones. Over time, it evolved into a larger farm building that encompassed stables and living quarters. Here, a miller and baker, along with their family, diligently worked. Notably, the sawmill, located just above the grist mill, remained operational until about 20 years ago.
Both mills were powered by water from the Zartenbach stream, which flowed directly through the farmyard. These mills were integral components of the Schwarzwaldhof’s self-contained economic system. It was only in recent times that they were separated from the farm through a sale.
In 1920, Anton Birkenberger, the eldest son of Conrad and Amalie Birkenberger, inherited the Kesslermühle. He converted the 300-year-old Kesslermühle into a small guesthouse with his own hands. Together with his wife Maria Birkenberger, he ran the 20-bed guesthouse until 1964, laying the foundations for today’s hotel.
In 1965, Anton Birkenberger passed the guesthouse on to his youngest son Karl “Charly” Birkenberger, who ran it together with his wife Renate and daughters Ingrid & Claudia for many years and continued to expanded it.
In 1966, a neighboring wing was added to the guesthouse. In 1970, the old Kesslermühle was burnt down in a controlled manner for economic reasons and the foundations of today’s hotel were built on the same site, including a large dining room, modern guest rooms and an indoor swimming pool. The Kesslermühle was one of the first hotels in the region to have its own indoor swimming pool.
In the following years, many other construction measures were carried out in order to offer guests the modern comforts of a beautiful hotel in the Black Forest. In 1998, a new, comfortable wellness area was created, with a luxurious sauna area and a new indoor pool.
Karl & Renate also passed the hotel on to the next generation and so on 1 December 1999, daughter Claudia and her husband Bernd Meisinger took over the family business together.
They too have not been content to simply maintain the legacy of past generations but have actively pursued ongoing improvements and modernizations to the hotel.
With 70 guest beds, space in the restaurant had also become scarce, so it was extended in 2002. Today it has room for around 100 guests and, in addition to the bright and spacious pavilion, also offers a bar where guests can enjoy a cozy end to the day.
In 2007, the Kesslermühle made a great leap in quality: guests can now also spend their well-deserved holidays in spacious suites. After 2 months of closure, everything is ready in time for the opening day, although the roof work is severely hampered by extreme snowfall.
In the years that followed, the hotel was constantly extended and expanded. In 2012, the sauna area was extended and modernized. In addition, the Kesslermühle was given a new bar after it had to make way for one in 2002. In 2013, the bathrooms in the guest rooms were brought up to date and the left wing was extended by a further floor. Five rooms in the Schauinsland category were added, which offer a perfect view over the Kesslerhang.
In 2018, an outdoor infinity pool was added to the wellness area and the gardens were professionally landscaped. These are just a few of the renovations and extensions that the Kesslermühle has undergone over the years.
In addition to the indoor pool, the wellness area now includes an outdoor infinity pool, a spacious sauna area with 4 different saunas, an infrared cabin, plunge pools, relaxation rooms and more, a spa pavilion with first-class products and treatments as well as a fitness area with modern equipment. The hotel is surrounded by beautiful gardens with a marvelous view. The Kesslermühle has become a wellness hotel that is regularly awarded 5 wellness stars.
The constant investment in quality improvement has not gone unnoticed: since 2014, the Kesslermühle has been awarded 4 stars superior every year and offers its guests modern luxury that gives little hint of the former farmer’s mill, but the nature around the Kesslermühle has not changed. The Zartenbach stream roars its lively song as it did 700 years ago.
At Kesslermühle, progress never pauses, as we are continually engaged in planning, building, and enhancing our establishment. At Kesslermühle, progress never pauses, as we are continually engaged in planning, building, and enhancing our establishment.
One thing is certain: the mill wheel never stops at the Kesslermühle!