What are some of the words that instantly come to your mind the moment someone says “hotel”? Off the cuff of my sleeve, I can rattle off “luxury,” “opulence,” “5-star,” “indulgence,” “pampering,” “relaxation,” “spa” and “amenities” – all in one breath. However, when two quirky brothers put together their slightly eccentric minds they come up with a concept that seems to be the undoing of the term “hotel.”
Conceptual artists and twins Patrik and Frank Riklin have designed, what they choose to call, a “zero star” hotel which is located in a small town in Switzerland. I can safely say that the Null Stern Hotel is the first of its kind. And surprisingly enough there is every indication that it won’t be the last either.
The Null Stern is a mish mash of various oddities, the first among them being its location. Believe it or not, it is underground an unimpressive looking apartment block, housed in an 80s nuclear fallout shelter. Of all the locations the twins could have picked in Switzerland, they had to go and choose one that reminds you of the end of days, complete with two-feet-thick blast doors and concrete walls.
As you walk into the hotel you understand the full implications of the sign you saw at the entrance – “Zero is the new seven.” What you dismissed as a joke is, in fact, the USP of this hotel. Designed to accommodate no more than 14 guests at a time in dormitory-styled rooms, Null Stern has dismissed with traditional amenities and offered intriguing ones of its own.
Since heating a nuclear bunker is something of an impossibility, you are handed traditional water bottles to keep you warm, along with a pair of slippers for your feet. And, considerate of the loud noise generated by the ventilation system in the hotel, they also very kindly offer a set of earplugs. The last bit of luxury can be found on your pillow – a carefully placed chocolate you can chew on to calm your nerves.
In case you had any notion of sitting in your hotel room and enjoying the verdant beauty of Switzerland, you can check out immediately and find yourself another room elsewhere since there are no windows at the Null Stern. Your eyes to the outside world are the monitors in the reception area connected to camera on the outside. Finally, keep your fingers crossed during the daily draws organized by the hotel since that’s the only way you can win a hot shower! Oh, one more thing – the guests have to decide among themselves what time to turn off the light but the wake-up call at 7 a.m. is fixed and mandatory.
Contrary to what you may believe, Null Stern is doing pretty well for itself and has bookings up to 2012. If that doesn’t convince you, it was also been nominated for Worldwide Hospitality Awards last year. As they say, “It takes all kinds to make this world,” and all kinds to woo the guests!