25 Hour Hotel Bikini Berlin & its Mini

Monday, 14 May 2018

▲ When I was in Berlin last month I didn’t stay at the 25 Hours Hotel Bikini Berlin, because I was joining Maureen, she was on an opera tour and she was already installed at the Regent Hotel near the Staatsoper. I did go to have a look at the hotel because of this ancient British Mini Traveller in the hotel lobby.

The hotel’s curious name is because it’s part of the 25 Hours Hotels chain, a new German-based group (but rapidly moving beyond Germany’s borders) of imaginatively designed boutique hotels. This one is very handily situated close to Zoo Station at the southern edge of the Zoologischer Garten. And bikini? That’s because the hotel is in a classic piece of 1950s Berlin architecture, a modern building designed to break with old Berlin and the influence of Kaiser Wilhelm and to show neighbouring East Berlin what life was like in the west.

The upper and lower parts of the building were quite separate and the Goethe Institut reports how that led to the bikini name: ‘In the Bikinihaus the architects opened up the sides of the second storey and turned the building into a two-piece garment with a bare-naveled view through to the Zoological Garden. The people of Berlin thus nicknamed the building Bikinihaus.’ Today, however, the open sides have been enclosed, but the bikini name hangs on.

▲ And my interest in that old Mini Traveller? Well it could be a twin to the Mini Traveller Maureen and I drove from London to Afghanistan in 1972. Here it is in eastern Iran, between Mashed and Herat in Afghanistan.