Werner Aisslinger gives “Urban Jungle” a new meaning as 25Hours splits Bikini Berlin Hotel’s views over the city’s stark, historical landmarks and its sprawling city zoo.
25Hours may be young and new to the scene, but their adherence to Berlin’s culture and vigorous incorporation of the city’s history throughout the Bikini Berlin attests to the strength of their youthful, innovative ideas. CEO Christoph Hoffman describes the concept of their latest hotel as a “duality: nature meets culture.” Combined with a conscientious Aisslinger, who has made Berlin his home, this powerhouse design team have created a hotel that is truly interwoven with the surrounding city and its rich, evocative heritage.
Beginning with the beginning, guests are immediately greeted by an unexpected twist in the hotel tale. The entrance foyer, extending three stories upwards, boasts abundant natural light, wire trees with plants climbing towards the ceiling and foliage wandering along the walls to form delicate illustrations by Japanese artist Yoshi Sislay. Flanked by two large pillars covered with original graffiti and centred around a vintage VW MINI van with Schindelhauer bicycles dangling from the ceiling, there is enough to temporarily distract from the total lack of a reception desk. Expertly playing with expectations, the creative team lead guests into a glass elevator where they journey to the third floor and may finally check in.
Rooms are generally divided between those that overlook the zoo and those that peer down onto West Berlin’s landmark city landscape. Pulling the outside in, the rooms reflect their own views. Jungle rooms are of a softer palate, decorated with natural materials and hammocks in the windows while the cityscape rooms are edgier with concrete walls and a cool, unfinished feel. While Jungle side immediately sets itself up as more appealing, Aisslinger maintains that both offer a sense of warmth, comfort and focus mainly on the views (and the “away from home” experience of free-standing bathtubs in all en-suites). The long, mysteriously dark corridors offer cinematic representation of Berlin’s disco scene intended to heighten one’s mood when you finally find your room lit by a single neon light – a distinctly 80s, European vibe that is both exciting and appropriately unnerving.
Once you have found your room, it is time to explore. Journeying upwards, Jungle Island offers a peaceful lounge space with modern swing sofas, fur-lined hammocks and the delicious smells of freshly baked bread from the nearby in-house bakery (yes, it exists). The ninth floor offers a well-being centre and Jungle Sauna where one can relax and sweat it out while enjoying the stunning views of wildlife in the zoo below. The tenth floor is where the real action happens. A rooftop terrace with restaurant NENI Berlin and the Monkey Bar (named so because the view from this particular spot is indeed, of monkeys – apes more specifically.) Huge glass facades offer a 360-degree view from the summit of the Bikini House spilling over both sides of the “Urban Jungle” theme. The restaurant is glass fronted, allowing guests to spy on chefs tossing flames from the robata grill, cooking up delicious, experimental food that is to be served in classic 25Hours style, authentic and interpersonal. NENI, in true Bikini Berlin fashion, “combines the familiar with the new. NENI is multicultural but never clichéd.”
Admitting that the dual nature of the concept at hand would be a challenge, Aisslinger has succeeded in combining the two sides of this great city in an accessible and suitable style. “The view” is a theme that permeates the design-everyone becomes a watcher. Whether you are gazing out of your hotel room window, double gazing through to the zoo-dwelling animals below, or becoming an object to be viewed inside the glass Jungle Sauna, this hotel embodies a level of transparency that is inherent to the design. It acts as both a window and mirror to the history of Berlin that surrounds it. As Aisslinger put it himself “Our project isn’t a UFO – it is interwoven with the city.”
Photography courtesy of 25Hours Hotel
For further information about 25Hours Hotel Bikini Berlin: Design Hotels