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Walking down the stairs to the bunker hotel, the Null Stern Hotel, is just about a dozen or so steps. You take a quick right and there’s a big door looking right at you. If it’s unlocked, it means the hotel is open. If it is locked, it means the Swiss army could be training in there.
The Null Stern Hotel forces you to interact with your fellow overnight guests. There are three large rooms: two bedrooms for seven guests each and one large lobby with a few chairs and sinks lining the walls. The bathroom has a series of toilets in a row and the showers is like your local gym… just a number of shower heads on a wall.
After word got out about that hotel was getting ready to open, volunteers came out in droves. Fourteen were accepted for a partial opening that included the media.
Bernadette Golacz and her husband, a concrete layer, came from Austria to stay here.
HELMICK: Why did you want to stay here?
BERNADETTE GOLACZ: Because it is a very nice adventure to sleep here. You can not sleep every night in a—-what’s the name for this?
HELMICK: A bunker.
GOLACZ: Bunker. Ah, bunker! OK.
HELMICK: What is it in German?
GOLACZ: Bunker! It’s the same! (laughs)
Most of the people here are native German speakers. In fact, the 24-point code of conduct at the Null Stern is written in German.One of the codes is to expect surprises, another is that the guests select the bedtime by taking the average amount of sleep everyone wants then subtracting it from the 7am wake up time.And then there’s the Glücksrad … the Null Stern version of Wheel of Fortune.
Not all the beds are the same. Some have more padding and nicer duvets, so to choose who gets which bed names are put on an old bike wheel hung on the wall and you spin for it.
Thomas Schrettl gets one of the beds in the first class room.
HELMICK : It looks like you’re going to have to toughen up and deal with first class.
THOMAS SCHRETTL: Yeah.
HELMICK: You could trade with someone.
CHRETTL: Yeah, I’ll think about it… maybe not.
HELMICK: You’re not going to Thomas.
Schrettl was in the German navy and says the room suit him just fine.
SCHRETTL: The pureness of the concrete. I like it.
HELMICK: Does it remind you of your navy days at all?
CHRETTL: Yes, kind of. Except you have a lot more space here than on the frig (frigates) that I have been. So it is much more comfortable here than it was on the ship. And it is stable, you know.
HELMICK: It’s not rocking back and forth.
But rocking the boat is exactly what co-creator Frank Riklin wants to do with this project.
FRANK RIKLIN: And we would like to have a system behind the seven stars that would be a new system that has another meaning of being in the society. That means it is not commercial it is more social.
In other words, what is a 5 star hotel? What is a four star? Are stars even necessary and does it mean you will have a nicer stay and be more fulfilled because of it?
Riklin says the company that gives Swiss hotels star ratings has written him a letter saying they don’t like the idea of a zero star hotel very much.
The bearded, shaggy haired artists and his twin brother Patrik say they’re just taking a society obsessed with more and more amenities and giving it just the basics, so guests find joy in meeting new people in a quirky environment and maybe even having a drink together.
RIKLIN: We speak about, maybe we go to the restaurant and get something to drink because we are here, and so it is more than only a hotel. It is a movement. It’s a spirit.
So for one night, 14 strangers: a housewife and an electrician, an economist and a project manager— drank and laughed together in a hotel bunker in a small Swiss town.
Riklin says he hopes to spread the zero star hotel idea to other towns. The one in Sevelen should be ready for full-time service in March.
Alex Helmick, World Radio Switzerland.
Total comments: 2 | Add to the discussion.
This is a joke, I can’t believe the man who thought that this bunker should become a hotel. It’s absurd, but all the while I can’t get off how damn funny a nuclear bunker can become a hotel, albeit the lowest rated in the world.
What a fantastic idea. We’re all way too obsessed with material things today. There is absolutely a market for a hotel that just provides the basics - a roof over your head in a safe environment and a clean bed to sleep in.
If you really NEED the room service, the concierge, the fitness centre and the inflated bill - then there are plenty of places ready to help.
Watch this space for more of the same.