GVHS Logo

Low Down Articles

Local History

Article 51 of 84     


This article first appeared in the June 12, 2013 issue of the The Low Down to Hull and Back News.External Link Reprinted with permission. Search complete list of Low Down Articles.

o o o

Wunderbar a time warp back to the 70s

By Trevor Greenway

If you take a drive through Wakefield's main drag, you may spot a little hotel tucked away in the pines. It's past a marshy swamp and down a lengthy gravel driveway that leads to a large, stone building with murals depicting Austria painted across its exterior.

Wunderbar Hotel
PROUD PROPRIETOR: Margaret Kuen, 73, stands in front of her Wunderbar Hotel just off Riverside Drive in Wakefield. Kuen is the original owner of the business that started 40 years ago. Trevor Greenway photo.

It's big, brown and has the charm of a rustic Austrian getaway circa the 1970s. It's called Hotel Wunderbar and if you locals have been wondering if the place is still operating, just keep reading.

Owner Margaret Kuen, 73, is the first person you'll see when you check in your bags. She's also the barkeep who will keep you watered all night at her basement bar, and she's the one who will check you out in the morning. In fact, at the Wunderbar, it's all her.

She's the original owner from when the place was erected more than 40 years ago in 1973. And although there have been a few changes, the place is pretty much the same as it was back then.

A step inside is like travelling back in time to 1970s Innsbruck, Austria, and Kuen likes it that way. It reminds her of her late husband, Albert, who built the place with his own hands - his portrait is held inside a gilded picture frame hung up in the main, stone hallway.

Wunderbar Hotel
Albret Kuen's portrait still hangs on a wall in the hallway. Trevor Greenway photo.

"I appreciate the natural stonework and the rustic charm of the place," said Kuen in a Dutch accent, taking this Low Down reporter on a tour of the six-room, two star Austrianstyle inn.

Every piece of furniture is as it was when the place first opened in 1980 - everything from the orange carpet in the bedrooms, to the worn sofa and brown leather bar stools. Even the kitchenettes, with faded green appliances that still work and dark barn board cupboards in the hotel's two apartment style rooms, date back to the 80s or so.

And while Kuen hasn't changed the place much herself, her guests over the years sure have.

Everywhere you look there are trinkets and treasures that line nearly every wall, ledge, and shelf in the hotel - objects that guests have brought her from their travels, such as Japanese fans, mugs, postcards and other knick-knacks from across the globe. They're the things that keep Kuen's nagging travel bug at bay.

Wunderbar Hotel
Kuen's bar is a cozy nook on the ground floor. Trevor Greenway photo.

"I can't go anywhere, so the world comes to me, so to speak," she said, after reminiscing about her trip through South Africa when she was younger. "Meeting guests gives me the travel I can no longer do."

In terms of rooms, the four regular bedrooms are straightup Austrian charm.

Antique bed frames and furniture make you feel like you're at a small, dated hostel somewhere in backcountry Europe. The rooms also feature TV and satellite.

As for the apartments, the "Apartment Romantique" features 400 square feet of lover's liberty with a wood burning fireplace, queen size bed and a full kitchen for those stay-in nights.

All rooms vary between $79- $99, depending on which room and how many people are staying. For more information, visit the website at www.bbcanada. com/wunderbarhotel.