Hotel has cheeky vibe, expansive views

05/17/2014 12:00 AM

05/13/2014 8:06 PM

If the name Bikini Berlin doesn’t give you a sense of this boutique hotel’s playful vibe, you’ll get it from the bicycles dangling from the ceiling at the entrance, the receptionists’ casually hip disheveled sweatshirts and the cheeky pillowcases that say “Let’s spend the night together.”

The fashionable Hamburg-based 25hours hotel chain opened this 10-story, 149-room property in January in a modernist 1950s building called Bikini-Haus because it comprised two sections. The structure was largely neglected for decades, but in recent years developers have been turning Bikini-Haus into a modern development, with shops and restaurants.

In affluent Charlottenburg, next to the Berlin Zoo and just west of historic Tiergarten park, a 520-acre expanse of greenery that was the hunting ground of kings in the 16th century, this hotel is close to many tourist attractions. A Berlin underground station is less than five minutes on foot, and major bus routes run in front of the hotel.

The room: Black and hunter green floor tiles covering nearly half of the fairly spacious room gave it an austere feel at first, though that was offset by sage-green walls and plush bedding. Floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the zoo offered views of swans and fauna. Graduated lighting casting red, green and blue hues on the king bed evoked a slight bordello feel, while ink drawings of stars and tulips provided a touch of whimsy; a message rolled into a bottle offered a rundown on minibar items. The room design caters to guests’ tech needs too, with abundant outlets, a large flat-screen TV and a clock-radio.

Tiled in black, the toilet cubicle and roomy shower could have felt like dungeons if not for the soft backlighting. Heated floors literally and figuratively warmed the setting. Toiletries by Hamburg-based Stop the Water While Using Me! smelled lovely and were made with natural ingredients.

Amenities: You cannot only rent a bike but also borrow a Mini Cooper for free, which is impressive. (Wi-Fi is complimentary, too.) A rooftop terrace, the Monkey Bar and Neni Berlin restaurant have 360 views of Tiergarten and the city’s ornate historic buildings and high rises. The lobby gift shop sells kitschy shopping bags and notebooks along with locally made vodkas, honey and coffee.

Breakfast: The hotel doesn’t offer room service, which meant the only in-house option for breakfast was a $25 meal at Neni Berlin, its Middle Eastern rooftop restaurant. The buffet spread was mind-boggling — beverages ranged from juices, fresh smoothies, lassi and kombucha to DIY espresso, coffee and tea stations. Hot items included Berlin’s famous curry wurst pork sausages as well as bacon and eggs; the cold bar featured smoked salmon, sliced meats, cheeses, an island of cereal options and baskets of hearty bread.

Bottom Line: A fashionable, comfortable and modern experience with sweeping views of old Berlin.

•  25hours Hotel Bikini Berlin: Budapester Strasse 40, Berlin; 011-49-30-12-02-21-0; Standard rooms start around $158.

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