The Hotel "zum roten Ochsen" is one of the oldest inns in Solothurn. It wasn't the best of addresses, though, more of a low dive. It was first mentioned officially in the 16th century, in a case of theft: Emmeli von Ingoldstadt had a 'Brugg grey coat' stolen at the Ochsen during the autumn fair. The inn was long refused official tavern rights: the landlords' lifestyles were not what the authorities expected, presumably.
The Berntorstrasse led to the only way over the river Aare in Solothurn until 1699. This little town outside the town came to have a certain life of its own, with a number of inns which fed and sheltered travellers ("Sonne", "Adler").
When the staircase tower was built in 1615, the building was so decrepit that it fell in and had to be rebuilt. Tests by the National Heritage Agency have shown that some of the present building's beams are made of wood that was felled in the winter of 1614/15.
There was drama in the house in 1694: the new owner, who had acquired the Ochsen when the old owner went bankrupt, was called before the council for reasons unknown. He fled from the bailiffs into the attic, jumped into the street and ultimately died of his injuries.
In 1860, the building was renamed the "Hopfenkranz" or 'Garland of Hops' – it had a brewery in the back yard, and later a skittle alley too. There was a lot of drinking and the occasional fight. In 1976, it went up in the world a bit, when Erwin und Jenny Käsermann took over the premises. His "Restaurant Berntor" specialised in fish dishes, and had a faithful regular clientele.
The house at Berntorstrasse 9 has a turbulent history behind it. Our hotel has consciously taken up this history, and is writing another chapter – together with our guests.