25hours Hotel Bikini Berlin
The hotel is in Charlottenburg, opposite the famous Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church and next to the Berlin Zoo and the 200-hectare leafy retreat of Tiergarten. The Berlin Zoologischer Garten U-Bahn station is a five-minute walk away.
Opened in 2014 in a building that used to be an austere 1950s office block, the hotel has a cool, modernist design that makes you feel like you're walking around in a Monocle magazine shoot, from the huge mural and vintage Mini Minor in the foyer to the neon signage used for everything from the room numbers to the various amenities. A sprawling lounge area near reception on the third floor includes a display of vintage speakers, a collection of vinyl records and a turntable. There's a cafe/bakery serving sweet treats, sandwiches and excellent Five Elephant coffee, a reading area well stocked with magazines and even a clutch of hammocks for lazing around. On the ninth floor is a sauna, while on the rooftop, the Monkey Bar is one of the most popular nightspots in Berlin, with sweeping views of the zoo and Tiergarten. Prime spots are on the outside wraparound terrace or the cushion-covered wooden bleachers behind the bar. The public has to line up downstairs and endure a long wait – guests have their own elevator for easy access.
There are two styles of room at the 25hours – the urban rooms face the city and jungle rooms face the zoo. I'm in number 705, a jungle room overlooking the heron house and chimpanzee enclosure. From my window I can see Golden Lizzy, the bronze angel statue that tops the iconic Victory Column, which pokes through the canopy of trees in the middle of the Tiergarten. The room has the feel of a loft studio, with a curtain separating a spacious bathroom sink and vanity and a spacious shower with Stop The Water While Using Me! bath products. There's a desk and bench ensemble with a Bluetooth speaker, hutches and a hanging rack for your clothes and a canvas satchel is provided to use on city wanderings throughout your stay. Quirky touches include a flip-book of do-not-disturb messages that include "please place aspirin in front of the door and leave".
Not a fan of hotel breakfast buffets? Make an exception and do it here at hotel restaurant Neni. The spread is top quality and the morning views over Tiergarten are spectacular. The dried fruit and cereal selection is a market stall unto itself, but there's also a big selection of eggs, bacon and sausage, baked goods, breads, cheeses, fish and cold meats. At night, the space is a bustling restaurant, with Middle Eastern and Asian fusion dishes on the menu, night views across the park and a delightful greenhouse area in the middle of the room.
Next to the hotel is Bikini Berlin, a minimalist mall full of carefully curated fashion, design, food and specialty stores. If you're with kids, the zoo is virtually at the door. A large fleet of bicycles is free for hotel guests – cruising along the garden paths that criss-cross Tiergarten is the perfect way to start your Berlin adventure on two wheels. The city is relatively flat, which makes for easy pedalling, and there are well-designated bike lanes on most footpaths and roads. With the U-Bahn station just a short walk away, it's easy to get anywhere by train, but if you feel like a drive, three Mini Minors are also available, free of charge.
Although the hotel is not in one of Berlin's hippest hoods (Kreuzberg, Neukolln, Prenzlauer Berg), you can easily get to them by train, and the unique design and lovely setting make it well worth a stay. The staff members were all unfailingly polite and helpful and the complimentary bikes and guest access to the very popular bar are huge pluses.
The cool design makes you feel like you're living in a photo spread from a hip magazine.
The zoo and Tiergarten are tourist magnets, but hop on your complimentary bike and you're in Kreuzberg or Neukolln before you know it.
25hours Hotel Bikini Berlin, Budapester Str. 40, Berlin.
Rooms start from €140 low season, €240 high season.
Barry Divola was a guest of 25Hours Hotel, Lufthansa and Visit Berlin.