Here's a great concept for a hotel: convert an old, unused vacuum factory space into a budget boutique hotel -- and even better, use refurbished mobile campers for rooms. That's what Berlin's new and attractive Hüttenpalast (that's German for "hut palace") is doing in the beautiful old workers' quarter of Neukölln: allowing guests to experience the cozy camping feeling, without the bugs and in the middle of a vibrant city. But it's hardly 'roughing it' in the solitary sense -- the caravans are beautifully remodelled, bathrooms are "luxurious" and guests can socialize with each other -- but without the rowdiness usually associated with cheap hostels.
The two founders of Hüttenpalast, Silke Lorenzen and Sarah Vollmer, who wanted to share their love of the diverse neighbourhoods of Berlin beyond the usual one-dimensional, touristic tripe, explain the genesis of the caravan hotel:
One day they found an old vacuum-cleaner factory in Hobrechtstraße, fell in love with the building and decided to build up a small hotel. They wanted to keep the great architecture and not destroy it by building separate rooms into the manufacture. Also they wanted to create a room, where people actually meet each other. So they started to think about a "room - in - room - concept" and decided to build little wooden huts into the hall. At some point they felt that they want more flexibility with the hall, since it is supposed to be a place of constant change. So they thought about putting wheels under the cabins. It was just then, they realized that there is already cabins with wheels existing: Caravans!
The hotel is smartly done, with three whitewashed caravans and three wooden huts currently being used for guests. On the ground floor, there's a garden that connects to the accommodations, and a café that serves breakfast, along with homemade cakes and other seasonal fare.
Sure, it's not the same as being in the great outdoors, but that's not the point. The hotel's original and affordable accommodation (only 30 euros per night per person) gets guests in a different frame of mind to step out and experience Berlin and its culture in a totally new light.
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