|By Merle Schmalenbach, dpa,
BerlinMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
April 10, 2012 --BERLIN -- Lovers of quirky hotels need look no further than Berlin where it is possible to spend a night in a former East German prison cell, an open-air swimming baths or even a coffin, with a history lesson also sometimes thrown in for good measure.
Visitors to the Propeller Island City Lodge near the famous Kurfuerstendamm shopping district are given operating instructions for their room when checking in. No two rooms are the same as the Lodge promises unlimited diversity in what it calls a habitable work of art in the heart of Berlin. Repeating nothing and copying nothing are the guiding principles here.
Lion cages on wooden stilts can be found in one room, other guests can spend the night in a coffin in a crypt, while there is also the option of the upside down room where the bed hangs upside down from the ceiling. There is even a prison cell with the toilet sitting in the bedroom.
Christian Taenzler from the Visit Berlin tourist authority says there are between 10 and 15 hotels in the German capital which offer a completely different experience to the usual fare. "The most entertaining ones have only opened up in the past two or three years," says Taenzler, who believes the reason for such diversity is down to economic reasons.
"Berlin is one of the most challenging hotel markets in the world so anyone who discovers a niche certainly has better survival chances," he explains.
Many tourists travel to Berlin with the expectation that the city is exceptionally creative, unusual and a little wild. Hotels like Propeller Island fit that image perfectly.
Another unusual hotel is Ostel which is situated in a GDR pre-fabricated building near the Ostbahnhof train station and tries to give its guests a taste of life in the Communist East Berlin of the 1970s and 1980s. The hotel is kitted out in original GDR furniture while the walls are adorned with pictures of former Communist leader Erich Honecker.
While Ostel playfully remembers design life in the GDR, Das andere Haus VIII deals with the more serious side of living under a dictatorship.
The hotel is situated in a red-bricked building that used to be a medical station in the former GDR prison in Rummelsburg. Each cell was bugged and locked with a heavy metal door while there were also cells with no light.
Political leaders such as Honecker and Minister of State Security Erich Mielke were held here briefly following the collapse of the Berlin Wall but now tourists travel to Rummelsburg voluntarily in order to spend a night in the former prison. There is a "Silent Room" in the basement to remember the building's grim history.
The hotel boat Eastern Comfort is anchored beside the historic Oberbaumbruecke bridge, which was once a border crossing point between East and West Berlin. The internationally renowned East Side Gallery, which is also the longest stretch of Berlin Wall remaining, is also nearby.
Tourists travelling on a limited budget can bring their own sleeping bag and spend the night on the ship's deck. The boat's engine does not work and non-swimmers, animals and children under the age of six are not allowed on board.
The open-air Scube Park swimming baths open this spring in the Neukoelln district. The accommodation consists of 40 wooden blocks positioned on a 2,000-square-metre space, which can be lived in all year round. Each block can fit up to four people but swimming in the pool is not allowed during the hours of darkness.
It is also possible to camp on the production floor of a former vacuum cleaner factory in the heart of Neukoelln. The Huettenpalast offers wooden huts and restored caravans dating back to the 1950s.
(c)2012 Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany)
Visit Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany) at www.dpa.de/English.82.0.html
Distributed by MCT Information Services