Meet Me Under the Marquee, Michelberger Hotel
Like a lucid dream, I remember slightly tilting my head and smiling at the irony of the “SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL” marquee as the U1 slid down Warschauer and steadily came to a halt. In a city where much is to be witnessed and even more to be contemplated, the whimsical phrase haunted me as I shuffled towards Warschauer Brücke. Later, in the company of a friend, I found myself standing underneath the same marquee while looking through our photoautomat pictures of the night – a weekend tradition that borders on an adult scavenger hunt and amateur sessions of boundless intimacy. Suddenly – unbridled and in typical Berlin fashion – Bowie and Queen reverberated from the doors behind us as a rush of guests came fleeting out of the entry way and into the night. Mutually glancing at each other in curiosity, we shrugged and returned home.
The next morning was bright and sunny, a rarity for Berlin in February. In search of a healthy cure for our rather unhealthy night, there I stood, staring through relatively large industrial windows at the sight of bright-white subway tiles, rustic community-style tables and pockets of fresh flower bouquets. The varied and dynamic light fixtures focused my attention upwards until dainty jars displaying an assortment of small-batch juices brought me back down to earth. Taking a few steps back and adjusting my sunglasses, I repeated the gesture I had done just the night before while riding the U1 – a tilt of the head with a smile. And just like that, the Michelberger Hotel had transformed from a late-night free-for-all, to an in-vogue brunch spot. What was next?
Sure, the past ten years has seen an influx in global expatriates, travelling freelancers, backpackers and wayfarers – but it has also seen a shift in the hospitality industry, with many rethinking what exactly it means to be, well, hospitable? Professors, anthropologists, sociologists and columnists alike have exhaustingly reported that the younger generations are anxiety-ridden and experience-addicted – and even as I cringe at the accuracy, I can’t help but think it’s an ethos only few businesses and venues can capture – or are willing to. Berlin, perpetually positioned at the crossroads of ephemeral and eternal, is one of the most strategic launching points for the new housing and hospitality experience – and perhaps relishing in these opposing forces is the Michelberger Hotel.
Imperative to any creative institution, diversity and authenticity surround the Michelberger Hotel - whether it be from the U-Bahn, lobby, courtyard or the individual rooms and community hangout spots. With Universal Studios right around the corner, as well as the East Side Gallery and accessible public transportation on essentially all sides,the hotel stands in-line with its Friedrichshain neighborhood, a creative kiez at its finest . If one is in Berlin every several months or few years, they’ll find that the hotel is in fact still there, yet the infamous signage dominating the industrial, stark façade may have a different phrase or colors, slightly teasing – if not reminding the public – Berlin is not a host for complacency.
The founders chose to construct a space for those they know best – their friends, loved ones and nomadic acquaintances. Local and international bands, artists, creatives and lovers flood the unconventional rooms and courtyard and if you’re lucky, you might catch an intimate, secret performance, a new menu item or simply be invited to your neighbor’s room party. Whether by theme, purpose, group size or budget, the rooms truly exist as separate architectural and interior entities, pulling those inside downstairs and outside into the community spaces. Unlike conventional hotels, where a sneak peak at a plush conference room might feel off-limits, the Michelberger Hotel has carefully curated each and every aspect of their enterprise as to present the ideal, 21st century total-work-of-art, a gesamtkunstwerk.
The attached restaurant focuses on local, organic produce and sustainable meals. Guests can also enjoy locally-produced, small-batch juices, drinks and ciders – or a great cup of coffee. The best part of the considerably big dining area is that it doubles as a space for workshops, special events, hosted dinners and launch parties. The Michelberger Hotel and Restaurant are conjoined by a unique aesthetic, delectable quality and an intimate sense of gathering – a concept surprisingly lost in the hotel chains of today.
Above all, Tom Michelberger and friends have, in the most organic manner, eliminated any and all pretentiousness – a foreboding feeling one experiences far too often in some of the most creative hotspots in town. The Michelberger Hotel is reminiscent of a contemporary Dada collage, where all the materials, textures and allegories are void of meaning until they’re fused to form a Berlin-style assemblage. An assemblage of inclusivity, creativity and authenticity is just what the world needs right now.