Having walked past a couple of times and heard others talk about it, the gal was curious about 25hours Bikini Hotel in Berlin. Is this luxury, or what? It is certainly different, and well-publicised on its exterior, so you cannot miss the existence of this 149-room fascination, though it is a little difficult to work out where to go in. Its arrival space on the ground floor is dominated by a 1967-vintage Mini stationwagon, complete with UK number plate. Some might be reminded of 2015 movie The Lady in the Van, where Maggie Smith lived in an old car, but no, no-one sleeps in this one. Overhead, three silver bicycles – real ones, not sculptures – hang from the lobby ceiling.
Main reception is on the third floor, which has a terrace looking towards the ruined Kaiser Wilhelm church. I went quickly up to the eighth floor, to shoot a video from room 804 (see it, below). A whole-wall window looked down at Berlin Zoo; across this window, from wall to wall, stretched a fabric hammock. Other unusual features included the deliberately-rough concrete ceiling, and outline wall stencils, by Israeli artist Yoshi Sisby. Light bulbs hang from the ceiling on red wires: silver wires hold up the two-way mirror above the single washbasin, accessed from the wash area or the bedroom area. I have most of the necessities for luxury, including a non-automatic minibar and an easy-reach safe. And I love all the reminders to save water.
25hours is the collective idea of four friends, led by company CEO Christoph Hoffmann, who is based in Hamburg, and now that AccorHotels has taken 30% of the shares expect the brand to grow fast, beyond its current seven properties in five destinations. Each hotel, says the CEO, is unique, but they are certainly all fun. Down on the ground floor, an old gas-station pump is purely decorative, nothing to do with the fact that the real bicycles just nearby are loaned out for free (going rate in Berlin is €12 a day). Up on the third floor, stroll past reception to an open-plan boutique, and on to a news corner, with today’s newspapers, German only, but books that include tomes, in English, on tattoos. There is also a working log fire here.
Here, too, is the bakery café, with breakfasts and later snacks to-go. I was nearly destined to dine here, actually, as when I arrived, on a Sunday mid afternoon, the receptionist asked if I had a dinner reservation. I immediately thought which luxury hotel’s restaurant is full on a Sunday night? Well this one is, as I was to discover. She did, fortunately, manage to get me a slot, for two hours from 7pm. Yes, I had to be gone by 9pm as the table was already booked then. As I was to discover, dining upstairs in the tenth floor rooftop restaurant of 25hours Bikini hotel is highly popular with locals, and where locals flock you can be sure that hotel guests are not far behind…