Review: 25Hours Hotels, Bikini Berlin
Berlin has it all – fascinating history, culture, thriving food and arts scene, nightlife to rival London’s and shopping opportunities galore. The wall came down in 1989 and what followed was a metamorphosis of Berlin into a hip, forward-thinking city with a distinctly unique character, laid back noir charm and cool hangouts all over this rambling metropolis. Berlin is now the third most visited city in Europe, overtaking Rome, only surpassed by London and Paris.
The last time I visited was over 12 years ago, pre-kids. Back then, we explored the city on bikes, searched out all the hip bars and found ourselves at a techno rave in one of the disused warehouses along the Spree river. How times change.
Berlin with kids
Although it might not seem like a conventional choice for a family break, we were lured by the colourful history and a chance to educate the kids about the city up close and personal. Berlin is like an open air classroom and museum all rolled into one and is a great place to put events of the recent past into context. The city offers a fascinating insight into events that unfolded in Germany: the rise of Hitler and the Nazi regime, The Berlin Wall, political uprisings, division, determination, rebellion – there’s a real sense of its chequered past on every street corner.
I had it on good authority that the 25Hours Bikini Berlin, was the place to stay when in Berlin. Overlooking Berlin Zoo, the hotel exudes urban chic and understated luxury, with low-lit reception area, coffee bar, bakery, co-working spaces and hammocks in the communal areas. On arrival, the hotel felt calm and welcoming and the kids loved swinging in the hammocks as they waited for us to check in. Perched on the 10th floor and offering unrivalled views across the city with a stunning roof terrace is the popular late night Monkey Bar and NENI restaurant. This is one chic hangout that we’ll be heading back to one day – without kids.
Rooms are equally cool and well-appointed, with floor-to-ceiling windows, walk in showers, free Wi-Fi, flat screen TVs, Bluetooth speakers, monkey teddies for the kids and fantastic views of Berlin Zoo. There are free bike rentals, a fitness room and sauna for guest use, including the kids, which I thought was a nice touch considering some hotels can be a little precious about children destroying the guest zen.
Things to do in Berlin
Lots of people we spoke to recommended a visit to Berlin Zoo, Germany’s oldest zoo. We’ve never been big fans of zoos – and had already seen the monkeys and giraffes from our hotel room – so instead we headed to the Helmut Newton Foundation, not far from the hotel. We love photography and although I knew Newton was a highly influential fashion photographer in the ‘70s and ‘80s, I wasn’t aware of quite how racy some of his images were. Let’s just say the exhibition was an eye opener for all of us. The kids couldn’t believe their eyes as we walked into the entrance hall and were greeted by five larger than life photographs of naked women hanging on the walls. It was certainly more memorable than a trip to the zoo – an exhibition we still talk about today.
While in Berlin, make sure you try the infamous Currywurst – pork sausage and chips smothered in curry ketchup and curry powder. Dirty but delicious. Curry 36 is reportedly the best currywurst in Berlin, so we headed across town to see what all the fuss was about. It’s easy to spot – there’s a massive queue of people on their phones waiting patiently whilst reading Trip Advisor reviews. It was tasty, but we tasted better in a tiny town we visited when we were camping in the Black Forest.
Berlin is a pretty unconventional place for families; there’s a distinct feeling that anarchy still rules in certain pockets of the city, its recent history makes for grim reading and parts of the city feel bleak and unloved – but that’s exactly why we enjoyed it so much.
We stayed as a guest of 25Hours hotel and wrote a review for TTG Luxury Magazine.
25Hours hotels, Bikini Berlin, Berlin. Book now.