Yes, the cultish Spanish shoe company does hotels too. In Berlin, a Mediterranean design, coupled with a new way to dine, and infused with bold bloodlines put you on cloud nine.
BY GRANT DOYLE
Top floor lounge, breakfast, bar and tentempié space, with views over Berlin’s Mitte skyline.
What is it?
Just like their funky, functional footwear, Casa Camper Berlin – with its 51 apartments and suites across eight floors – essentially follows the same, fun and informal design cues from its shoes. And the location is perfect; on the northern edge of Mitte, which translates as ‘middle’ or centre, where history and hipsters fit, well, like a comfy pair of boots.
What’s so special?
In a word, tentempié. Not exactly tapas, tentempié is an in-between snack, drink or quick bite to eat. It’s available in the glass-encased top floor lounge, bar, and dining come breakfast area. And it’s completely free, 24/7. Seriously!
Design wise, Fernando Amat and Jordi Tio, the creative team behind the group’s only other hotel in Barcelona, continue the minimalist but bold colours (red rules the palette roost here) and quirky design touches that distinguish the brand.
The funky approach to hospitality starts as soon as you arrive. The nondescript entrance is flanked by two vintage push bikes displayed in shop windows, as if museum pieces. Step through, past the glass-encased shoe display (Campers of course) and Vinçon furnishings to the modest reception. That discreet hallway veering off the lobby is the guest-only access to the adjacent pop-up fashion store, currently boutique Spanish retailer Med winds.
What about the rooms?
There are several configurations, but all share quirky (read clever) yet minimalist design touches. Basic rooms are all white, while hallways, larger rooms and suites run very, very red.
Along one entire wall of the large sleeping and lounge area is a row of hooks; perfect for coats, scarves, bags, lights, camera, and the like. The hotel’s information pack is folded over a coat hanger strung from one of the hooks, as is a frosted pendant spotlight. There’s little in the way of artwork or framed prints. Apart from the wall-mounted slimline TV, a massive map of the local Mitte area hangs proudly on another wall; perfect for getting your bearings and planning adventures.
Across warm oak floors and past the sumptuous bed is a curtain that separates the sleeping area’s moody hues from the bright natural light of the bathroom. Its full length vanity – complete with sweeping city vistas – extends the width of the suite, then turns 90 degrees to function as a desk. If the notion of cleaning out your inbox and cleaning your teeth from essentially the same bench bothers you, fear not. There’s plenty of space for both.
Privacy is covered with another sheer window curtain – a huge room number is emblazoned on it – screening Berlin from peering in. There’s no bath and the high-tech shower, unlike much designer tapware, is a breeze to operate. The separate toilet has a subtle automatic night light at floor level. And Camper slippers are naturally included.
What is there to eat and drink?
What sets the hotel apart is tentempié, which you can enjoy from the sumptuous, cosy and light filled top floor. Think pastry, sandwich, salad, fruit, cheese, charcuterie, juice, coffee/teas, mineral waters and the like). There’s no opening or closing hours. There’s no bills. Available 24/7 and completely free.
The gourmet buffet breakfast happens here as part of tentempié too. A resident chef between 6 and 10am will cook to order from a seasonal, market-driven menu. Eat in, take to your room, or take away.
Fancy a glass of French fizz or German riesling with your tentempié? Not a problem. Again, it’s help yourself, honesty-style, from the well-stocked bar. Just record the details on the supplied docket, which is added to your bill on checking out.
At any given time of day there can be creative or techie guests sipping organic juices and tapping on keyboards; a young family eating snacks gathered around a board game, while our group of four often sipped wine and grazed from a cheese board.
Instructions, actually. Very helpful, but quirky, like the one right beside the up/down buttons for the elevator, which reads: Walk, it’s healthier.
And because of the self-help ethos throughout, extended explanations and labels abound in the top-floor tentempié bar/dining area. But in true Camper style, the original fonts are the creation of celebrity graphic designer, América Sánchez.
Casa Camper also houses a basement gym + Finnish sauna, meeting area and business centre.
What’s going on locally?
The Weinmeisterstraße U-Bahn is literally on the hotel’s doorstep. Bus and tram stops are right around the corner. But given this part of the city is so flat, consider walking because Mitte is arguably more populated with historic hot spots than just about any other precinct in the capital.
Immediately south is the Hackescher Markt with its collection of courtyards brimming with eateries and galleries. Alexanderplatz is a further 10 minutes away on foot. Heading there you’ll pass local designer fashion stores, a bevy of hips bars and buzzing cafes.
West from Alexanderplatz, there’s Museum Island (which could take a full day to tour), Unter den Linden and the Brandenburg Gate, as well as the stately surrounds of Gendarmenmarket to explore. Complete the Mitte loop by swinging south to check out Checkpoint Charlie. From there, the Reichstag is on your way home. Naturally all this convenience and proximity can make you thirsty. Fear not; an absinthe bar with more brands than a green fairy could ever conjure, is just 50 metres from Casa Camper.
Where at and what’s the damage?
Weinmeisterstraße 1, Mitte, 10178, Berlin
tel: +49 30 2000 34 10
Rooms from A$273 (US$205) per night – breakfast, tentempié and Wi-Fi included.
The final word
Just like their shoes, Casa Camper is a great fit if a fun and funky designer hotel in one of the world’s great capitals is your thing. But be warned; you can easily get used to tentempié. It’s such a civilised way to stay.
Grant Doyle, who owns two pairs of Campers, paid his own way.