"The traffic's very bad here," said the guide. There were all of two cars on the main highway passing in front of Waldknechtshof, including ours. We pulled in front of a steeply roofed converted farmhouse dating from 1769. Ten years ago, it was renovated in a rather wild ultra-modern fashion and turned into holiday apartments with a finer dining restaurant and pub. The result is a fanciful marriage of exposed timbers and steel beams.

The guestrooms, naturally, are all different, nicely decorated apartments with contemporary furnishings, and quite spacious. Some are entirely modern, while others show unexpected architectural features, like a naked wooden beam in the middle of a clean, white-tiled bathroom. The sloping attic rooms are the most atmospheric, with an interesting mix of old and new.

No Caracallan baths here, but at least Restaurant Meierei's menu shows the same wild fancy as the modern architecture. Christian Heinsohn serves a multicourse, multicolored creative Swabian tasting menu for €62 per person in a stone dining room filled with antiques.

The hotel does not have much in the way of extensive grounds, but there is a manicured lawn patio with a few picnic tables. When we visited, only one person was on duty to handle the hotel and the pub, so service was slow and hectic. However, the unique architecture and creative interiors make this a worthwhile short overnight option in Baiersbronn, where most places cater to longer-term guests.—by Lydia Itoi

Contact: Waldknechtshof Baiersbronn Strasse 4, D-72270, Baiersbronn-Klosterreichenbach, tel. +49/07442/ 84 84 0, fax 84 84410

Daily Per Person Rates: Singles from €104, doubles from €114

Rating: Quality 14/20, Value 15/20