The Helmhaus Hotel in the old town is one of the oldest guesthouses of the city: its earliest record dates back to 1356 AD, then still called Hie zum Rosslyn.
It was located right next to the hithe, the city’s commercial center. Vessels loaded with goods and pilgrims landed day after day. They provided the city with charcoal, vegetables and wheat. The hithe filled the area with hustle and bustle even then.
The owner of the house back then was the knight and nobleman Rudolf of Wollerau. He probably served the abbot of Einsiedeln abbey. The house itself was a fief and belonged to the Fraumünster Abbey across the river.
One of the many tenants of the house was Oswald Reinhart. His daughter Anna Reinhart (1484-1538) married the reformer Ulrich Zwingli in 1524 after two years in cohabitation. Anna was Switzerland's first clergyman’s spouse and established Zurich's poor relief. A memorial plaque on the hotel's facade honors her merits.
The same year the hostel saved the Grossmünster Abbey’s famous altar paintings by Hans Leu major from iconoclasts. Built into the paneling, they survived the protestant iconoclasm but fell into oblivion. Restoration work brought those precious paintings back to light again about 400 years later. Today they are exhibits in the Swiss National Museum.
The city-hotel’s ever-changing history continued into the modern age. After 1833 the house became an annex of the ancient Hotel du Lac on the river Limmat. It was rebuilt in 1935 into a business and apartment house and hosted the Café Sultan on its first floor. After further modifications in 1961 it became a guesthouse again and was renamed Hotel Garni Mondial.
The Weibel and Mengis families bought the house in 1970 and gave it its current name Helmhaus after the nearby Helmhaus Art Museum. The hoteliers renovated and modernized the hotel continuously, respecting the historical heritage and combining it with state of the art facilities for the needs of present-day guests. Today's hotel presents itself as a comfortable boutique hotel that kept its charm and tradition of hospitality over the last 650 years.