For the past two years we have found ourselves in Europe on Saint Patrick's Day: laughing through the world's lamest Big City Parade in London in 2006, and watching zillions of pink-faced fat guys in huge green and white striped, stuffed hats and rugby jerseys bumbling around Rome after the Italy/Ireland rugby game (some even plunging into the Trevi Fountain) in 2007. March is a great time to travel because the weather is nice but the place isn't overrun with tourists yet, so we decided we should make a tradition of our annual St. Patrick's Day Europe Trip. Plus, while we're on the East Coast, we figured we should take advantage of the relative proximity to Europe. So there you have it- we decided on an annual St. Patrick's trip to Europe.
We spent months debating where to go in 2008: the former Yugoslavia was the frontrunner for over a month, but it was too darn hard to plan since no American airlines fly there and since it takes more like 2 weeks to do the place justice. Did you know that Croatia is the "new Prague"? I wasn't even aware we needed a "new" Prague, but I guess if "Prague is the new Paris" then we don't have a Prague so I guess Croatia has moved in to fill that vacuum. Makes sense (huh?)
After ruling out Morocco, Spain, Portugal and Central Europe, we finally decided to go to Paris and Berlin for a little over a week. Paris is Paris- always amazing. And Berlin is apparently "the new New York"- or how people think New York was in the 1970s and 80s, as far as cutting edge culture and avant garde design. All this is background for the most amazing hotel I've ever seen. EVER. Tell me if I'm wrong when I show you this- a hotel in Berlin called the Propeller Island City Lodge Hotel. If you poke around that last link, which is the home page for the hotel part (it's also apparently an art gallery and some sort of performing arts space- I think the owners/designers are also music producers and/or artists), you can click on any of the numbers to see all of the rooms.
But why don't I just take you on a little tour, shall we? Here are some of my faves- I say some of my faves because 100% of the rooms are OUT OF CONTROL BIZARRE. That said, buckle up your seat belts, kids, because it's time for a ride through an alternate universe, brought to you by some wacky Berlin artsy types:
[note: you can click on the bottom right of the home photo for each of these, and see several more photos of each room]
Let's start off slowly, shall we?
SYMBOL ROOM: There are over 300 symbols covering the surfaces of this room. I think it's graphically amazing, but I couldn't help but think how my luggage would be slopped all over the place and really ruin the vibe. Plus, it looks a bit too much like the Riddler from Batman. Next!
FREEDOM: This is supposed to be like a prison cell. Click on the multiple photos and you can see that the window has even been covered by a false wall that has a hole in it, the sole source of light in the room. GROSS. Do you think the toilet is filthy, for the sake of authenticity? I mean, who wants to have the experience of staying in a prison cell and actually have it be clean? Perhaps instead of a mint on your pillow, it sends you home with a nice staph infection, just to keep it authentic. Moving right along . . .
PADDED CELL: Also known as "The room you graduate into, if you are really good, but still imbalanced, after staying in Freedom for a few nights." I love how the TV is carefully worked into the padding- Germans gotta have their electronics available at all times!
UPSIDE DOWN: Can you see that the furniture is on the ceiling, the "view" is upside down photos approximating a topsy-turvy view, and you sleep in secret compartments underneath the freaking floorboards???
COFFIN ROOM: I'm sorry, WHAT? Creeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeepy!!!! I might be able to understand this one if it were a "coffin built for two" to sleep in, but I'm thinking that people who want to sleep in coffins, don't want to do it alone (if you catch my drift) so this one baffles me. 'Nuf said.
CHICKEN CURRY: I can't believe I think this one is uninspired, given that the bed is tucked into the floor, behind a sliding garage door. I guess I just think it has a lame name. Or maybe the artist gets bonus points for making an entire room themed on a spicy dish.
GRANDMA'S ROOM: This room scores for having the balls to put that awful granny picture on the wall. I can't see it, but I'm certain the lady has a nice moustache. This room is cool because you enter the bathroom and shower via the two doors in the armoire. Kind of like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe or something.
NIGHTLIGHT: At first glance, this one looks tame, but it actually is quite racy- check out the written description: "The wild brush strokes of abstractly painted murals surround and adorn the mirrored aperture to the goings-on next door - an opened curtain might just invite you to have a look! The bathroom is a gigantic plastic bag - a real sensation!" I love that I now know how to say "my bathroom is a giant ziploc bag": "Das Bad ist ein riesiger Plastiksack"!!
This room, and the room next door, definitely play to the voyeur/exhibitionist crowd, but I did a lot of independent research on this place (shocking, I know), and it does not appear to be some sort of weird sex hotel or something. It is in a very small group of "experiential hotels"- not unlike California's kitschy Madonna Inn, and it's funky themed rooms like the Caveman Room.
You have probably guessed from my comments above that YES, in fact, we ARE staying at the Propeller Island City Lodge in Berlin!!! When I first saw the website, I thought it was NOT for us- we're way too square. But then we agreed that we would kick ourselves if we don't stay there. Plus, it's even in our price range. Still, we would have been willing to pay a little extra simply because staying at this bizarre-o hotel will give us fascinating dinner party stories for literally decades to come.
The only downside? I had to ask for a specific room, ranking my top three choices (which is good because you don't want to unwittingly wind up in Freedom or something!), which meant spending hours looking at all those pictures and going through a process something like this: "Will this room give me nightmares, yes or no?" then "Will I feel like some sort of sexual deviant if I stay in this room, regardless of my activities therein?" then "When I explain this room to people, will they think I'm a complete freak, yes or no?" That line of questioning QUICKLY narrowed it down to three.
Can you guess which ones were our top picks? Hint: None are listed above. Try me! Try me! Take a guess!