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Berlin's quirky hotels

Thursday, May 19, 2011
Since Germany's reunification in 1990, Berlin has become established as a hub for culture, politics, media, science and vibrant and edgy modern art. The metropolis is home to renowned universities, and it follows that nightlife is wide and varied. Art is everywhere — from architecture to galleries. People arrive from around the world to look, with particular interest in the Berlin Wall East Side Gallery. The world's largest open-air gallery, running 1.3km by the River Spree, is covered with more than 100 paintings by local and international artists. It is a poignant reminder of the city's past and a memorial for freedom.

As Jules Lund discovered, Berlin has a quirky side. On the other side of the wall from the paintings is one of the city's more unusual places to stay.

The hostel boat Eastern Comfort is moored on the River Spree between two lively districts in the centre of town. It's modern and luxurious with 25 cabins on three decks and classes.

The middle deck has eight-first class cabins with bathrooms and on the lower deck are 16 single, double, triple and quad bed cabins with portholes and bathrooms.

The third and upper deck has two dorm rooms with six bunk beds and communal shower. You can pitch a tent and enjoy being under the stars during summer. It's all centrally heated in winter. There's a lounge and cafe up there as well. The reception is in the bow and at the stern are community areas with television, internet access and the only smoking area on board. Breakfast is served between 8.30 and 11am.

Their newer boat, Western Comfort is moored opposite on the western bank of the river. It has 18 second-class cabins with windows. Shower and toilet facilities are shared.

Weekly language/international parties get people of many nationalities and ages together and they talk about their travels. Berliners enjoy going to the parties and there's usually beer drinking, dancing and passing on information about things to do and see.

For something really quirky, it would be hard to go past Propeller Island City Lodge. It's all about aesthetic sensations for the eye and ear. The first rooms opened in 1997: Castle, Blue, Orange and Symbol. They became popular immediately so the extensions began.

The original motivation was to finance musician Lars Stroschen's projects and audio-visual creations. Now he has 31 themed rooms offering an interactive art experience.

Jules found the Therapy room was like being in a kaleidoscope. It was designed to provide stress-relief from the pressures of life.

Flying Bed room has a slanted floor and a wardrobe coming out of the wall. Mirror Room is entirely decorated with mirrors and Upside Down room is topsy-turvy. Furnishings hang from the ceiling and you sleep and sit in comfortable boxes beneath floorboards!

Chicken Curry is India-inspired. It has gigantic lighting boxes and roll-out backdrops. Gentle pink walls compensate chromatic tints of neon tubes. Two Lions room is loved by children. You sleep in dual cages in the enormous room and if you choose to leave the drapes open, other guests applaud and wave. Jules spoke with general manager, Valentina Gennadis, and found her to be quite normal. It's all about fun and their guests are just regular people looking to enjoy a new experience.

Location

Berlin, in Germany's north-east.

Cost

Eastern Comfort Hostel Boat costs $16 for upper-deck tents. Five-bed dormitories cost $22 a night and four-bed dormitories with private bath cost $25. Breakfast and bedding cost from $4 to $7.

Propeller Island City Lodge single rooms are around $105 and doubles range from $125 to $174. Breakfast is not included.

Emirates has flights to Hamburg and 26 other European destinations, via Dubai, from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. Connections to Berlin are available. For an exclusive Getaway viewer's discount, visit emirates.com/getaway

Prices correct at May 19, 2011.

For further information

Emirates
Ph: 1300 303 777
emirates.com/getaway

Künstlerinitiative East Side Gallery
Friedrichstraße 206
10969 Berlin
Germany
eastsidegallery.com

Eastern Comfort Hostel Boat
Mühlenstraße 73
10243 Berlin
Germany
Ph: +49 30 6676 3806
eastern-comfort.com

Propeller Island City Lodge
Albrecht-Achilles Straße 58
10709 Berlin
Germany
Ph: +49 30 891 9016
propeller-island.de

German National Tourist Office
germany.travel

Visa: Australians require valid passports to enter Germany, but return tickets and visas are not required.
Electricity: 230V at 50Hz and plugs with two round pins.
Time zone: GMT +1.
Currency: The euro.
International dialling code: +49.

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