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Ringing for Rock ‘n’ Roll room service

A hotel in Berlin is attracting attention for its loud décor and even louder room service perks: free guitars and keyboards for music-loving guests. Moises Mendoza checks in for the night.

Ringing for Rock 'n' Roll room service
Photo: DPA

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.

Click here for a gallery of the nhow

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.

Moises Mendoza

[email protected]

twitter.com/moisesdmendoza

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BERLIN

EXPLAINED: Berlin’s latest Covid rules

In response to rapidly rising Covid-19 infection rates, the Berlin Senate has introduced stricter rules, which came into force on Saturday, November 27th. Here's what you need to know.

A sign in front of a waxing studio in Berlin indicates the rule of the 2G system
A sign in front of a waxing studio indicates the rule of the 2G system with access only for fully vaccinated people and those who can show proof of recovery from Covid-19 as restrictions tighten in Berlin. STEFANIE LOOS / AFP

The Senate agreed on the tougher restrictions on Tuesday, November 23rd with the goal of reducing contacts and mobility, according to State Secretary of Health Martin Matz (SPD).

He explained after the meeting that these measures should slow the increase in Covid-19 infection rates, which was important as “the situation had, unfortunately, deteriorated over the past weeks”, according to media reports.

READ ALSO: Tougher Covid measures needed to stop 100,000 more deaths, warns top German virologist

Essentially, the new rules exclude from much of public life anyone who cannot show proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19. You’ll find more details of how different sectors are affected below.

Shops
If you haven’t been vaccinated or recovered (2G – geimpft (vaccinated) or genesen (recovered)) from Covid-19, then you can only go into shops for essential supplies, i.e. food shopping in supermarkets or to drugstores and pharmacies.

Many – but not all – of the rules for shopping are the same as those passed in the neighbouring state of Brandenburg in order to avoid promoting ‘shopping tourism’ with different restrictions in different states.

Leisure
2G applies here, too, as well as the requirement to wear a mask with most places now no longer accepting a negative test for entry. Only minors are exempt from this requirement.

Sport, culture, clubs
Indoor sports halls will off-limits to anyone who hasn’t  been vaccinated or can’t show proof of recovery from Covid-19. 2G is also in force for cultural events, such as plays and concerts, where there’s also a requirement to wear a mask. 

In places where mask-wearing isn’t possible, such as dance clubs, then a negative test and social distancing are required (capacity is capped at 50 percent of the maximum).

Restaurants, bars, pubs (indoors)
You have to wear a mask in all of these places when you come in, leave or move around. You can only take your mask off while you’re sat down. 2G rules also apply here.

Hotels and other types of accommodation 
Restrictions are tougher here, too, with 2G now in force. This means that unvaccinated people can no longer get a room, even if they have a negative test.

Hairdressers
For close-contact services, such as hairdressers and beauticians, it’s up to the service providers themselves to decide whether they require customers to wear masks or a negative test.

Football matches and other large-scale events
Rules have changed here, too. From December 1st, capacity will be limited to 5,000 people plus 50 percent of the total potential stadium or arena capacity. And only those who’ve been vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 will be allowed in. Masks are also compulsory.

For the Olympic Stadium, this means capacity will be capped at 42,000 spectators and 16,000 for the Alte Försterei stadium. 

Transport
3G rules – ie vaccinated, recovered or a negative test – still apply on the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, trams and buses in Berlin. It was not possible to tighten restrictions, Matz said, as the regulations were issued at national level.

According to the German Act on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases, people have to wear a surgical mask or an FFP2 mask  on public transport.

Christmas markets
The Senate currently has no plans to cancel the capital’s Christmas markets, some of which have been open since Monday. 

According to Matz, 2G rules apply and wearing a mask is compulsory.

Schools and day-care
Pupils will still have to take Covid tests three times a week and, in classes where there are at least two children who test positive in the rapid antigen tests, then tests should be carried out daily for a week.  

Unlike in Brandenburg, there are currently no plans to move away from face-to-face teaching. The child-friendly ‘lollipop’ Covid tests will be made compulsory in day-care centres and parents will be required to confirm that the tests have been carried out. Day-care staff have to document the results.

What about vaccination centres?
Berlin wants to expand these and set up new ones, according to Matz. A new vaccination centre should open in the Ring centre at the end of the week and 50 soldiers from the German army have been helping at the vaccination centre at the Exhibition Centre each day since last week.

The capacity in the new vaccination centre in the Lindencenter in Lichtenberg is expected to be doubled. There are also additional vaccination appointments so that people can get their jabs more quickly. Currently, all appointments are fully booked well into the new year.

 

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