In the past few years, Berlin has started feeling a little like I’m going home. Staying with mates, knowing my way around and heading straight for the best falafel spots. It’s safe to say I was starting to see my German vacays as less of a holiday and more of a trip home.
Having decided that I needed to reignite my Berlin love affair, I went on the hunt for a tip-top hotel, one oozing with a laidback interior and ultra cool design details. One that could allow me to bring along my best underwear and let me drink way too much German beer without a care for the consequences.
Having previously visited Monkey Bar, I was aware that underneath this bohemian bar lay a hotel, one with a very cool atrium and a helluva zoo view. Hello 25hourshotel! One look at the website and I was sold, and well, I couldn’t stay without sharing it with you too!
Built in the 1950s by the architects Paul Schwebes and Hans Schoszberger, the Bikini House was the architectural expression of a new attitude to life hallmarked by dynamism, freedom, optimism and consumerism. While today, the site does sit within a concept shopping mall, the attitude of freedom and creativity has also been maintained, attracting nonconformists and trendsetters all around.
Situated just two minutes away from Zoologischer Garten, the hotel is surrounded by the grounds of Berlin zoo and the contrasting streets of the Ku’ Damm shopping area. Designed by Studio Aisslinger, local Berlin influences have been pulled in to form the interior landscape of the hotel. Colour references from the club culture in City West and iconic meeting point references from the legendary Dschungel on Nürnberger Straße were both sources of inspiration. If you’re not aware of Dschungel you only have to look at the clientele of Prince, Boy George, Nick Cave, Iggy Pop and David Bowie to know it was once of the places to be, before it closed down in 1993.
The location and architecture of the building have certainly influenced the interior design of the hotel, with details such as concrete ceilings providing an urban feel and an abundance of greenery dominating the lounge – the perfect meeting point, creating an urban jungle to reflect the outside surroundings. Studio Aisslinger also drew references from São Paulo where the architecture of Oscar Niemeyer caught their attention.
“The idea of creating a city within a city was important to us. We drew our inspiration from São Paulo so that we could tell our own story here in Berlin.”
~ Christoph Hoffmann, CEO, 25hours hotel
Whatta welcome! Let’s face it. I could have arrived at the hotel and happily have stayed in the loft-like foyer for the entire three days. Hammocks overlooking the zoo, sheepskin rugs and mismatched cushions – an EJP dream and one that I would have quite happily settled for. The in-house bakery and its extremely fresh coffee would have also sufficed for the entirety of the trip.
One thing I have to applaud immediately is the helpfulness of the staff. Friendly, warm and knowledgeable, every single person we came across was happy to help and marvel us with information – even offering us an umbrella when it was raining! Part of the deal when staying is free bike hire and, wait for it, MINI hire. While we didn’t make use of it on this trip (wha?), I can see that this would be a major perk for most and I would have certainly considered both options had a little less drinking been involved.
A communal workspace is also situated on the third floor, with little and large chairs and private nooks to answer those emails, as well as access to macs and printers for those who have travelled lightly. The lovingly designed space provides a retreat from the fast-paced life of Berlin and again screams cosy space as opposed to a harsh office setting.
And if you like the interior style? A small integrated shop houses 25hours merchandise (think ‘let’s spend the night together’ pillows) as well as a curated selection of independent designers and lifestyle accessories to accompany your stay. A kiosk designed in conjunction with the publishing house Gestalten Verlag offers magazines and the Freunde von Freunden network offers guests individual access to their Berlin as food, cultural and shopping guides.
Continuing with the ‘Urban Jungle’ theme, half of the 149 rooms look out over Berlin Zoo’s ape house and elephant enclosure, while the other half have a somewhat edgier feel, looking over some of West Berlin’s most iconic landmarks.
We chose to stay in a Jungle M room, meaning a room with a monkey view and a warm interior palette to rest our weary feet and cure our hangovers instantly. Overlooking the ape houses, natural materials are at the forefront and a wooden feature wall provides the perfect snoozy backdrop, as Joshua so kindly modelled without knowing. One thing I love about German culture is the double duvet situation and extra comfy pillows, and here, 25hours does not disappoint. Ultra comfortable beds, air-conditioning, a flat- screen TV, a minibar, an iPod docking station are all included as well as some notable products from Moroso and incredible ambient lighting. The open shelving system allows you to arrange your belongings and a small desk complete with greenery comes in handy for note-taking and laptop loving.
Leading up to the rooms and referencing the previously mentioned club scene, the corridors are conspicuously dark and mysterious with just the white neon room numbers providing Instagrammable moments.
“The darker the hallway, the more surprising the mood when guests walk into their room,”
~ Werner Aisslinger, Designer
While yes, most of the room is light and bright, the shower remains dark, sensual and absolutely bloody perfect. Hot, steamy and with room for two, the Jungle M room makes for the perfect getaway. The addition of sustainable toiletries from Stop the Water shows thoughtfulness and consideration.
Of course, let’s not hide the fact that the real showstopper of the room is the floor-to-ceiling window and if you do opt for the M or L room, the accompanying hammock to swing away the morning in. You could have given me an empty room with that hammock and view, I’d have been happy as Larry. Without a doubt, this must be the best spot for relaxing and undisturbed wildlife watching in the whole of Berlin. Pure bliss.
One thing you want from a city break is a good breakfast to raise your energy levels and get you ready for a day of walking. Throw in a breathtaking 360-degree view and hey presto, you’re in heaven.
Brekkie at 25hours hotels is a visual treat from the endless bowls of granola and cereal to the rolls of smoked salmon and steaming pots of eggs shakshuka. A huge Nespresso machine is available for all guests and fresh juices, a herbal tea counter and even more filter coffee is also available in endless supply.
Once again the vibe is relaxed and the staff helpful. Greenery hangs above the wooden inner seated terrace while the outskirts take on a more relaxed sofa vibe. Design extras from colourful Hay cushions make it a delightful place to sit and eat and I can only imagine the outside terrace when summer hits and breakfast moves outside.
You can see it. ENOUGH SAID.
If you can’t tell already, we will 100% be returning to 25hours hotel (read: on every trip to Berlin). Colourful, fun and interesting at every turn, this hotel is quite frankly the best I’ve ever had the pleasure to stay in. I’m also 100% certain that they foresaw the EJP blog being a thing and made the perfect hotel for me to stay in. Room rates start at around €120 a night so while it’s not on the cheapest, it’s not excatly bank-breaking either. Totally worth it if you’re looking for somewhere special to stay on your next trip to Berlin.