Attempting to stand out in Berlin's crowed accommodation market isn't easy, but the year-old nhow Hotel is doing its bizarre best.
First of all, there's the building itself. It's a huge, metallic block hulking over the Spree River. Then there's the décor: It's full of bright blue and pink everywhere and the front desk personnel wear colourful headgear.
But then, the place's entire concept is unusual. The nhow bills itself as a “music and lifestyle hotel” – the only one of its kind in Europe, and it's meant specifically to appeal to people who love the arts and a bit of Berlin style.
This isn't your average soulless Sheraton or Hilton.
At the invitation of the nhow's management, The Local spent a night in the hotel recently. It was an amusing, if not totally convincing experience. The nhow is not for everyone, but it's definitely a one-of-a-kind destination for music lovers or those in the music business. It could warrant a visit just for the oddness-factor.
A music metropolis
To get a better grasp of the nhow, The Local was offered a brief tour of the facilities with one of the hotel's managers, Jenny Hecker.
“Berlin in the last few years has become an unbelievable music metropolis,” Hecker said, talking about the thriving scene in neighbourhoods like Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain, while pointing out that that Universal Music's Germany headquarters is on a nearby street corner. “That's why we've come up with this concept.”
Hecker said the hotel wants to appeal to everyone from musicians to industry executives and curious tourists. And although its starting prices (€150 per night) can be a stretch for those on a budget, it offers lots of five star amenities, some of which are a little weird.
As is standard among top-flight hotels, the rooms feature flat-screen televisions with lots of international channels, along with a selection of streaming music. But here's a novelty: Hotel employees will also cheerfully deliver keyboards and guitars for guests to jam the night away completely free of charge.
One of the hotel's floors even has studios that you can rent out to record your latest hits, although a guest might balk at the €500 per-day price. Various artists, including Nick Carter and David Hasselhoff, have gladly dished out the cash, according to the hotel.
The rooms themselves essentially require sunglasses. They range from blindingly fluorescent pink (my room on the hotel's fourth floor) to bright blue. Many also include a lovely view of the river.
There's another nhow in Milan, Italy meant to celebrate fashion and design, but Hecker said she the hotel's parent, NH Hotels, is still mulling over plans for more one-of-a-kind buildings.
The important thing, she said, is nhow's uniqueness.
“We're really different,” she said. “You notice it as soon as you walk in.”
Basking in the music
So how was The Local's stay? Not bad at all. With a few friends along, the night was spent banging away tunes on the keyboard and guitar brought to us by room service while enjoying a view of the Spree. We drank a little wine, listened to some music and basked in the odd trendiness of the place.
In the morning there was a yummy breakfast waiting in another brightly coloured room.
The bottom line: Berlin's nhow is not for the faint of heart. Its décor is wild and its rooms are like nothing you've seen before. But the hotel's location, in the heart of the city's pulsing nightlife, is awesome. And it has some novel amenities no other hotel offers. Try it out when you're in the mood for something weird.