First it was camping and then it was glamping. Now in a former factory in Berlin comes the inspired concept of camping without any of the inconvenience of actually having to be outdoors… Welcome to The Hüttenpalast
Interior Design : Sarah Vollmer & Silke Lorenzen
When people think of caravans, they invariably conjure up childhood memories of cold, damp holidays with older relatives in rather non-glamorous destinations. Invariably in Britain.
But Silke Lorenzen and Sarah Vollmer have changed all that for ever with their unique and funky hotel Hüttenpalast in Berlin. It actually features accommodation options that include caravans and cabins, but indoors.
Hüttenpalast, or Huts at the Palace, is a small hotel in the Neukölln neighbourhood of south Berlin. It came about after the two owners could no longer fit all their friends into their living room, so went on the hunt for a space that would be perfect for entertaining, they say. After falling in love with a former vacuum-cleaner factory with an outdoor courtyard, they decided it would be perfect for transforming into a comfortable little hotel.
With a desire to maintain the architecture of the factory, Lorenzen and Vollmer decided that creating separate spaces for guest rooms would destroy the impressive expanse, and they wanted to use the 200sq m main area as a meeting space, not just a place for guests to collect a key from reception before disappearing into their rooms.
The room-in-room concept originally saw just wooden cabins in the design, but after considering that their hotel was supposed to be a place of constant change, what better option than huts on wheels – caravans?
All are designed and built by local artists, and they sit among indoor gardens with mismatched, vintage outdoor and indoor furniture, where guests are encouraged to socialise with fellow guests.
Each accommodation option is different, but all are modest and kitsch in design. One particular cabin, somewhat reminiscent of Dr Who’s Tardis, looks as though it has been styled using bits found in the Steptoe and Son’s yard.
Vintage lamps, sofas and tea trollies sit outside, while the inside is simply a bed and space to undress in and get ready for a night’s sleep. One caravan, made of stainless steel, again features just a bed, but this time bold lighting lines the headboard and reflects off the shiny ceiling, creating a soft glow throughout the ‘van’.
The inside of another caravan is lined with sanded lightwood blocks, slotted neatly together beside brown leaf-patterned curtains and pure white bed linen. The sunroof has been transformed using a cover, painted soft yellow, which features a selection of cut-out shapes.
For those less inclined to a spot of camping –indoors or out – the hotel has six real guest rooms with en-suite bathrooms and the original high-ceilinged, tall-windowed factory architecture, each as modest in design as the caravans and cabins, with white walls and bed linen, and little else in the way of decoration.
The cafe and courtyard at the Hüttenpalast are designed with sociability in mind. The courtyard is overgrown with greenery and houses plenty more mismatched furniture including deckchairs, benches and hammocks. In the cafe, darkwood chairs and tables with inset herb pots sit below stylish pendant lights, and the beige and white walls are covered with quirky artwork.
A large bar of backlit glass tiles and varnished wood bring a modern, stylized touch to this kitsch and unusual hotel.