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There aren’t too many hotels in which one can call room service and order a guitar with a side of headphones. Or mosey upstairs to two state-of-the art analogue and digital recording studios on the Music Sound Floor, complete with a multimedia-equipped lounge and a breathtaking view of the Spree river.
While not exactly centrally located, this second example of the NH Hoteles Group’s new Nhow lifestyle concept is nonetheless well placed. Universal and MTV are direct neighbors, plus numerous clubs and Berlin’s largest concert venue, O2 World, are nearby.
But Nhow is not just about music. Thanks to Karim Rashid, design fans are also in for a treat. The internationally acclaimed designer’s signature hot pink hue is all around this eight-floor, 304-room hotel, even in the ice-skating rink on the special-events balcony. His amorphous fiberglass forms strike a playfully sci-fi note throughout the check-in, lobby, bar, breakfast and restaurant areas on the ground floor.
Rashid’s digipop computer-generated patterns appear on stone and linoleum floors, wallpapers, sheets, diaphanous curtains — even the flip side of the flat-screen TVs in the wall units that separate the sleeping and living areas of the 45 junior suites. They also infiltrate the high-tech conference room and foyer, which together accommodate up to 600 people.
Architect Sergei Tchoban’s two-winged brick facade building looks like it’s long stood on this stretch of former warehouses and ports, but the silver metallic central tower, which projects 85 feet over the Spree out back (and houses the music studios and deluxe Nhow suite) is almost dizzyingly modern.
Finally, a two-floor, raw concrete gallery is currently filled with intimate photos of Sixties and Seventies music icons, including Jimi Hendrix in the kitchen. —Melissa Drier
Nhow Berlin, 3 Stralauer Allee, 10245; +49-30-290-2990; nhow-hotels.com
There’s going to be a pronounced Swedish accent during MBFWB this season, starting with the Mercedes-Benz-sponsored group show of designers Camilla Norrback, Ida Sjöstedt and Diana Orving on Jan. 21.
But Sweden’s fashion involvement in Berlin will go beyond the runway. The gallery Swedish Photography will hang a show of Camilla Akrans’ less commercial work. The fashion photographer, who has shot campaigns for the likes of H&M and Tommy Hilfiger’s “Dreaming” fragrance, as well as the cover of Rihanna’s latest album, “Loud,” originally wanted to be an artist, and the show will focus on her signature use of light and color. When night falls, fashion videos will take over the gallery courtyard. To be screened: three- to 20-minute films by and/or about Ann-Sofie Back, Fashion Tale Magazine, Nakkna and others.
Finally, the Nordic Embassies are hosting a fashion seminar on Swedish fashion design and culture in cooperation with Stockholm University’s Center for Fashion Studies and Berlin’s Weissensee Art Academy. —M.D.
Camilla Akrans (Jan. 20 to 29) and Fashion Film (Jan. 20 to 23), Gallery Swedish Photography, Oranienburger Strasse 27, 10117; swedishphotography.org
Fashion Talks (Jan. 21, 10 a.m. to noon), Felleshus, Nordic Embassies, 1 Rauchstrasse 1, 10787; nordischebotschaften.org
Cotton Comes to Berlin
Bread & Butter has taken quite a bit of flack over the years for being party hearty, but B&B founder Karl-Heinz Müller firmly believes in mixing business and pleasure.
“People who work a lot are also entitled to celebrate,” he said. “Plus, this industry lives from emotion and pleasure to a great extent. It can’t only be business. The whole luxury industry wouldn’t function.
“It’s also important that buyers experience something special when they’re in this city, which is why we always spend a lot of money on our opening parties.”
This season, the Absolute Casino’s black jack, poker, roulette and craps tables are just part of the fun and games at B&B’s Absolute Cotton Club. Last summer’s Original Sin Saloon has been transformed into a Twenties-style speakeasy, with burlesque queens Ginger Synne and Vicky Butterfly performing.
There also will be live boxing matches, capped by the official IBO Youth World Championship fight between Rico Müller and Nestor Faccio.
Finally, the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies will perform their signature mix of swing, ska and funk, followed by some turns at the deck by Amsterdam’s DJ Jaziah. —M.D.
Absolute Cotton Club, Bread & Butter Berlin, Airport Berlin-Tempelhof, 5 Platz der Luftbrücke. Jan. 18, 7 p.m.
Twelve live reindeer, giant mushrooms, a round platform bed, mice in a maze and caged canaries doing a balancing act in a former train station. It’s not a film from David Lynch or a Christmas story gone wrong, but an art installation called “Soma” by Carsten Höller, who traversed the massive Turbine Hall of London’s Tate Modern with spiral slides, tantalizing visitors in 2006.
At Berlin’s contemporary art-focused Hamburger Bahnhof, Höller’s “Soma” draws inspiration from the quest for enlightenment. While some achieve this through mystical visions via mythical potions, Höller presents an enchanted petting zoo. (Soma was a psychoactive — and partly poisonous — plant-based drink said to have been used by ancient Indo-Germanic Vedas.)
Those seeking truly altered states can book an overnight stay in “Soma,” priced at 1,000 euros, or about $1,330 at current exchange. This includes dinner, a private museum tour and full service from staff of Berlin’s InterContinental Hotel. Advance bookings are sold out, but the museum gives away one chance a week via its Web site to slumber in “Soma.” —Susan Stone
Carsten Höller, “Soma,” Hamburger Bahnhof — Museum für Gegenwart, 50-51 Invalidenstrasse,10557; +49-30-26-642-4242; somainberlin.org. Tuesday to Friday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (runs until Feb. 6).
ON A ROLL
Berlin is said to have one of the largest Vietnamese communities outside of Vietnam, and while the city is dotted with Vietnamese restaurants offering traditional soups, salads and noodle dishes, the beloved Vietnamese-French sandwich, the bánh mì, is only now getting some special attention.
Two new delis are offering the laden baguette, which usually features pork, pâté, pickled vegetables, fresh cilantro, mayonnaise and a gentle chili kick. Sleek but comfy Cô Cô’s rice flour baguettes can be filled with grilled chicken, steak or lemongrass tofu, and Mitte diners can choose a rice flour omelet as a base for the fillings, as well.
Across town and overlooking Oranienplatz, bright and energetic Babanbè Deli offers a twist on the soup-and-sandwich pairing with its bánh mì and phô. The recipes were tasty souvenirs brought back by three German friends who fell in love with Saigon street food, and put a twist on it by adding portobello mushrooms and tuna to the stuffing selections.—S.S.
Cô Cô Bánh Mì Deli, Rosenthalerstrasse 2, 10119; +49-30-2463-0595; firstname.lastname@example.org. Monday to Thursday, Sunday: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday to Saturday: 11 a.m. to midnight
Babanbè — The Bánh Mì Deli, Oranienplatz 2, 10999. Monday to Saturday: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Club and restaurant owner Cookie is clearly in expansion mode. His all-day eatery Chipps opened in April and, just six months later, there was talk of his launching yet another spot. But Cookie’s latest nighttime venue doesn’t aim to reinvent vegetarian cuisine, like his earlier gastronomic ventures, nor did he embark on his own this time. Marcus Trojan, the man behind Weekend club, and photographer Sascha Kramer are also on board at Trust — a bar with a decidedly personal touch. In fact, Trust could be described as a house party, thrown five times a week by some of Berlin’s best nightlife organizers. Its nondescript entrance already looks the part. There’s no sign leading to the place and the front door is closed even when the bar is open. So anyone wanting to get in will need to knock or ring the bell. Once inside this four-room space, guests can lounge on a couple of randomly put together sofas while sipping vodka, rum or gin. Instead of being sold by the glass, Trust’s libations are sold by the logo-bearing corked bottle, which start at $29 apiece, including two soft drinks.— J.W.
Trust, 72 Torstrasse, 10119. Tuesday to Saturday: 8 p.m. to late.