Where else do you share a room with a full-size composer, and where do you get a chandelier over your bathtub, gal? This was a first, the 14-light affair hanging over the freestanding white oval tub in the bathroom of room 201 in Kameha Grand, Bonn.
But then this Leading Hotel of the World is full of firsts, and very agreeable ones at that. Of course one cannot exactly credit the hotel with arranging a half-marathon just outside my main windows, which looked straight down at the towpath along the banks of the Rhine, but they did manage many amazing things nonetheless.
This is an all-glass building formed of two five-floor wings not quite parallel – splayed slightly out to the Rhine end, closer at the main street, Am Bonner Bogen in Ramersdorf area – and joined at the street end. Behind, at ground level, the space is partly garden, with four ten-foot gold pots with living trees, and behind, a giant party area that erupts into just such a scene of activity once a month.
Those lucky partygoers, all 2,500 of them, find a glass-topped party hall with all the entertainment they can wish for, including a ‘koi tank’ that is actually LED virtual reality (just like Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong’s 118th floor swimming pool ceiling and, soon to be unveiled, Fairmont Baku in that city’s iconic three Flame Towers).
Carsten Rath, well known as motivational speaker Carsten K Rath on the German and a growing international circuit, has, as Founding CEO of Lifestyle Hospitality & Entertainment Group, put all this together. Kameha Grand Bonn is the group’s first hotel, and he has put into it all his plans for something new and innovative.
Years back the industry was innovative, he says, but now it has gone stale. Six months before he opened Kameha Grand Bonn he brought in Dutch designer Marcel Wanders – a Rath friend, as is anybody of any consequence in Europe, it seems, and that could include his own Chancellor.
Marcel Wanders is brilliant when it comes to hotels (he is doing the forthcoming Andaz Hotel Amsterdam). Redo what has already been done, he urged Wanders. Wanders obediently waved his wand and, hey presto…
You enter a lobby that is a theatre of excitement, with modern-look Egyptian columns and giant glass lampshades and a 24-hour service station that has night-long drinks and coffee (as I was to experience when my driver collected me at 0430).
Turn to your left to the freestanding white tables, tall to accommodate the all-sleek, all-chic personnel who seem to do anything, regardless of what their job function is. Beyond this is Grace, a glass-sided boutique with addictive Swarovski-type animals – one on a giant ashtray that CKR designed himself – and Chloé, Prada and other brands. Rise up in normal elevators to your floor which, abnormally, is totally bright scarlet, including patterned carpets.
Marcel Wanders rather likes patterns, and themes, in this 253-room beauty. Room 201, at the end overlooking the Rhine (obviously) is themed for Beethoven, born in Bonn. There is a full-size white statue of him, as you enter.
There are hand-sized busts of him strategically set on the black grand Piano Rumler de Bonn-Beuel, which of course I had to tinkle. Its top is littered with manuscripts, including Beethoven Sonate pathétique Opus 13, Opus 27 No 2, Beethoven Lieder, Mondschein-Sonate Clair de Lune. What a problem, which to choose?
As you play, the mercifully-white wall to your right is decorated with 26 different sizes of circular black and white photographs of women’s heads: apparently they are all called Elise, a reminder of Beethoven’s Für Elise, apparently dedicated to Thérèse Malfatti, to whom he was alleged to have unsuccessfully proposed in 1810.
What else is this room memorable for? To the right of the big black desk – looking down at the Rhine – a ceiling-hung chandelier is formed of about a hundred bits of papers, notes of music and drawings, pinned on a frame like washing hanging on a mushroom washline.
I had a white tailor’s dummy, and a giant bunch of white flowers, masses of books and all modern essentials from a Philips Senseo coffee maker to heated bathroom floor.
Also essential for today’s life is the 24-hour gym (Technogym, and great Rhine views), and a pool and spa, and a rooftop, dinner-only Japanese restaurant, Yu Sushi, a lovely cocoon of a place lit by scarlet candles on the otherwise all-white table.
We actually dined back on the ground floor, in Brasserie Next Level, off a lovely white table (I designed it, said CKR) with no cloth, but white napkins and china, and a purple lamp shade and emerald water carafe. The servers, all in black, wear big name labels and big smiles. They honestly like working here. Why, one asks, does Bonn actually NEED a luxury hotel?
Well, the place is surrounded by masses of glass office buildings and despite Chancellor Merkel moving to Berlin, the President of Germany lives in Bonn. Seven ministries, including Defence, are still here; former embassies have evolved into consulates, and the UN is big here (with an annual Afghan conference) and Formula One is less than half an hour away. And then there is medical, which attracts an ‘enormous amount’ of incoming medical tourism from the Middle East.
So life is busy for GM Thomas Kleber, the electric Guest Relations Manager Julia Giesenkamp (who is a member of the Clefs d’Or conciergerie) and their super colleagues at Kameha Grand, and it is fun, for those who work here and those who stay.
I loved the way my 0330 telephone wake up, yes really, was prefaced with a soft chuckle over the phone, as if to say ‘do you really MEAN to wake up so early?’ I loved being able to choose a breakfast-to-go, including Red Bull, from the Room Service menu.
I loved the fact Anna, she who had woken me up via that telephone call, then personally handed me a paper cup of really great coffee as I settled in the hotel Audi, ready to be driven to the airport for my early flight.