The Harzburger Hof was not only one of the five largest and most prestigious hotels in Germany it was always also a social microcosm and mirror of its time. Opened in 1874 as the ducal Actien-Hotel, it went through a series of peaks and troughs of fortune in the 20th century. A sophisticated place for recuperation in the days of empire, the Harzburger Hof became a center of cultural life in the 1920s, later serving as a military hospital and then as an office for the occupation forces after the war, before its social life was revived in the 1960s and 1970s. After structural and economic decline in the 1980s and 1990s, the hotel was closed. Following a series of fires, demolition was the only option. In preparation for the brand new Grand Hotel Harzburger Hof, Ulf Meyer places the past and the future of the building in the context of the development of grand hotels, tourism in the Harz region, and contemporary and architectural history.