At 7pm precisely the gal went up to the tenth floor rooftop restaurant of 25hours Bikini Hotel, Berlin, to find out what it is about this luxury hotel’s dining that pulls in such crowds. You enter via the adjacent Monkey Bar, for which you similarly should have reservations – they control numbers back down on the ground floor and stop when there are 300 upstairs. Through the Bar and on to Neni, the restaurant, and you feel as if you are in a conservatory that landed on the top of the 149-room hotel. This is a place for ambience, and sharing plates that come from around the Mediterranean: the name Neni comes from the initials of four Israel-born brothers, Nuriel, Elior, Nadiv and Ilan – see them on the card, above, with their mother, Haya Molcho, a cook with considerable following not only in Vienna, where the family now lives, but much further afield.
The first Neni restaurant, which opened in Vienna, set the tone, and here, too, the food is Mediterranean with a big emphasis on Tel Aviv. I started with a platter of babaghannouj, served with rounds of Arab bread held in a fabric basket. I went on to a Jerusalem platter, which turned out to be chicken bits with hommus and capsicum, and I drank the house red, Recanati Yasmin Red 2016 from Jezreel/Ella Region, 50-50 Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It seemed like only a few hours after this very pleasant dinner that I was back up at Neni again, as the sun rose – how I love breakfasts that start at 6.30am, or even earlier. Now I saw into the restaurant’s protrusion, an alcove with its glass walls holding hydroponic plants. The big lampshade overhead has a shade made of pages of gardening books stapled together.
In daylight I can see the restaurant properly. Just as with the adjacent Monkey Bar, the far end of the space (behind us in the photo on the left) leads to an open terrace, highly popular all summer long. The interior has the protrusion alcove mentioned above, but the main part is built up, two steps high, with a central raised area with the outline of a shed indicating a greenhouse, and lots of plants everywhere – the designer of the whole hotel is Werner Aisslinger. There is an open kitchen, where now chefs are ready to cook eggs on demand to supplement the buffet’s hot dishes, held in brightly-coloured Le Creuset casseroles. I now know, by the way, that whereas most of the world is becoming omelette mad at breakfast, Germans, who may have boiled eggs at home, definitely want their eggs scrambled when they are in hotels.
The buffet is splendid, fruits, and masses of dairy, nuts and cereals, and the cold cuts and cheeses that are ubiquitous. It is help- yourself coffee, make your own toast from with the breads that I always associate with central European luxury hotels. I love the bright paper mats and the lively music, and oh, the sun is streaming in. All this, for €19 inclusive, gives such a feeling of value that I leave this fascinating hotel with a big smile. And that, these days, is luxury enough for any traveller. It was good discipline not to have a make-your-own espresso in my room. NOW SEE THE BREAKFAST VIDEO BELOW.