A few years ago German furniture designer Nils Holger Moorman bought some land in the mountains (which happened to come with a nondescript old Bavarian building) to build a new warehouse for his namesake furniture company. Then a neighbor filed a complaint and he was forced to come up with another idea. Enter the Grand Hotel Futile, the original, tongue-in-cheek name of the 13-guest room project that he rehabbed and decked out in his signature, pared-down contemporary aesthetic. Once the hotel idea settled, Nils totally embraced it, renamed it Berge, which means mountains, and moved forward with meticulous detail–from wide alpine-slat floors and custom furniture to getting door handles crafted by a local blacksmith and bowls made by a local woodworker. “There are so many little details that together form a language,” says Nils.
The difference between Berge and a fancy design hotel is by design: self-catering apartments let guests explore and create their own experience. “The guests arrive here and they feel the place,” attests Nils. “You have to give a piece of yourself, you can’t just sit down and ask, ‘Where’s the lobster bisque?’”
Prices start at $160. There’s a big, spare kitchen to share (where you can line up cooking classes), bikes and more than 1,000 books to choose from in the TV-free space. Rent a room at Welcome Beyond.
[Photos and info via Welcome Beyond.]
My friend Amy Abbott–a super stylish, no-nonsense girl who can still stick her head above the clouds enough to properly appreciate the art of storybook-chic–just returned from Fischerhude, a quaint German village with thatched-roof cottages, wooden bridges and wonderful cafes. She stayed in a one-room b&b above a shop, chock full of pretty vintage things (“Everything Anthropologie wants to be,” says Amy). And it’s the stuff of fairy tales.
“It’s like staying with an impossibly hip sister whose design aesthetic is an awesome combo of chic, cozy and charming,” says Amy. Owner Heike Mörschel lives directly above the first-floor shop, Landlust, and the b&b is located on the top floor. She delivers breakfast, which includes a different delicious tea each day. “It’s the kind of place to go for if you are seeking quiet and inspiration,” says Amy, who was doing just that. And the town? “The perfect place to relax, take in the galleries, shop (it’s a bit of an artist colony), go for walks, and have cake and coffee.”
Located in Berlin’s hip Friedrichshain—in the heart of the Simon Dach Strasse—artist Tina Gonsalves and chef Matthew Wild’s art-filled apartment doubles as a holiday rental when they’re in Port Douglas, Australia, where they split time. Four years ago, they moved in with a single suitcase and have spent the last four years renovating and outfitting their light-streamed prewar with eclectic-vintage furniture from the flea market across the street, curvy lamps, heavy velvet curtains, art from friends (as well as Tina’s own work), mix-and-match patterns and a gutsy color palette.
Sleeps four. The neighborhood is known as the last resort for Berlin’s alt sub-culture, and the street is lined with cafes, bars and restaurants, including a bakery, café and ice cream shop on the first floor of the building. $120 a night. Rent it at berlinartistapartment.com.
So many hotels pull from the same formulaic corporate-modern blueprint. But in Berlin, the hotels really seem to look and feel like Berlin. An aloof sense of kookiness and art appreciation cultivates a severe, edgy and wonderfully tacky design aesthetic I just cannot get enough of. Here, some of my favorite examples, from the brand-new Soho House Berlin to the irreverent-chic Michael Berger Hotel, which was apparently created for “Austrian carpenters, Swedish models, English rockstars, Japanese business men and German racing car drivers,” and the old-school guest house pick, Nurnberger Eck, which I discovered a few years ago when I snagged a soft-back copy of Angelika Taschen’s Berlin Hotels & More from a discount table at Anthropologie on a whim. It’s the only hotel book I own, and I look through it all the time, admiring the spaces, full of flaws and character, that feel functionally spare even when decorated with dated floral wallpaper, carved neoclassical antiques and pastel rotary phones.