25hours has expanded its hotel offerings far beyond its home base of Germany. Despite the growth, the group hasn’t forgotten the inventive, irreverent style they started with.
Back in the aughts, back before I had any gray hair, the term boutique hotel brought to mind places that were fun, funky, vibrant, and colorful — places unafraid of the kinds of irreverent flourishes that might turn off the buttoned-up business traveler. The lines have blurred a bit since then. These days, every hotel brand from here to Hilton wants to be boutique. But twenty years ago, boutique hotels were still expected to be highly personal, bespoke expressions; accessible, but not for everyone.
They were expected to be like the 25hours hotels.
We spend a fair bit of time in these pages lionizing hotels that, let’s face it, can cost a lot of money; it comes with the territory when you’re trying to tell stories about the world’s most uncommon accommodations. Our selection proudly covers a range of price points, though, and a huge portion of it is made up of great hotels that don’t cost much at all. Hotels that orient themselves toward, if not younger guests, then guests that are younger at heart.
Launched in Hamburg in 2005, the 25hours hotels are youthful and brave in the way we all wish we could stay forever. From Germany to Switzerland to Denmark and now even Dubai, their hotels take inspiration from the immediate surroundings, and the results are presented with the volume turned up to eleven. Whether the identity comes from local history, local industry, or the local zoo, you can be sure that a 25hours hotel will display it with unapologetic passion. This was the initial promise of the boutique hotel: they’d be unique to their location, their personality would be front and center, and they’d serve as a social hub for the next generation.
So while I may be fading gracefully out of that generation, 25hours isn’t. The winds of change have shifted much over the past couple of decades, and the group has adapted their formula as necessary, but they’ve never forgotten their foundation. These are the boutique hotels we were promised. If it’s not for you, it’s not for you. And that’s okay.
25hours Hotel Hafencity
HafenCity is Hamburg’s big urban renewal project, a redevelopment of a sizable portion of the waterfront port district. The 25hours designers were clearly quite aware of their location — the décor is full of references to the shipyards and docklands of old Hamburg. The theme lends a certain shipboard charm to the smaller of the rooms (or cabins, as they’re called), and a bit of added personality to the larger ones.
25hours Hotel The Trip
25hours Hotel The Trip is vibrant, colorful, bohemian, eclectic, a love letter to the idea of travel by local artist Michael Dreher and designers Morgen Interiors, its rooms dedicated to destinations as far-flung as Afghanistan, Antarctica, and Peru. This place, like all of the 25hours hotels, is aimed squarely at the creative class, and a breath of fresh air in the finance capital of Germany.
25hours Hotel Piazza San Paolino
While some prefer Florence at its most self-serious, many others will find the 25hours Hotel Piazza San Paolino to be just the thing for the city of Dante. This 25hours hotel is, in fact, a tribute to the Divine Comedy, and not in a particularly subtle way; each of the rooms belongs either to Paradiso or Inferno, the former suitably white-on-white and the latter in rakish red and black.
25hours Hotel The Circle
25hours Hotel The Circle is an audacious redevelopment of a landmark building whose rotunda gives the Circle its name. The vibe is retro-futuristic, in the classic late-modernist West German utopian style, full of pastel colors and rounded forms, designed by Werner Aisslinger to pay tribute to a bygone era and to please the contemporary traveler’s eye.
25hours Hotel Indre By
25hours Hotel Indre By is a celebration of its setting, a 19th-century factory that spent time as a university building on its way to becoming a hotel. The result is a quirky patchwork of architectural elements and an eclectic approach to decoration that plays with 20th-century modernism and the timeless coziness they call “hygge,” along with playful references to historical figures in the arts and sciences.
25hours Hotel Terminus Nord
How did 25hours adapt to France? Largely by involving the locals in the design decisions. The Augsburg-based design agency, Dreimeta, engaged Visto Images, a Parisian firm, to collaborate on the hotel’s visual identity, tailoring it to its location in the 10th Arrondissement just across from the Gare du Nord — a location that, despite its convenient rail link, is on the fringes of Paris’s traditional tourist centers.
25hours Hotel Bikini Berlin
Bikini Berlin is set in West Berlin’s old heart, between Tiergarten Park, the Berlin Zoo, and the shopper’s paradise of the Kurfürstendamm. It’s a location that’s truly one of a kind. Equally unexpected is the near-pastoral setting, thanks to the views over the park and the zoo — the décor is pure “urban jungle,” unfinished concrete mixing with vibrant colors and natural greenery, all accentuating the leafy surroundings.
25hours Hotel Das Tour
From Düsseldorf you expect precision German engineering, and the Swiss design team for 25hours Das Tour delivered that and a distinct French influence. The rooms, in fact, are one or the other: industrial metal surfaces and saturated colors in the German, a warmer, more Mediterranean style in the French. The sauna and gym recall the typically German obsession with health, this one is styled as a tribute to the Tour de France.
25hours Hotel the Royal Bavarian
The Royal Bavarian is located at the literal heart of the city, in what were once the Imperial Post and Telegraph offices. And while there’s just a touch of Imperial pomp, it’s thoroughly ironic, and it’s only one ingredient among many in 25hours’ playful postmodern blend: from vaguely Alpine knotty wood to retro subway tile to ornate wallpaper, and everywhere a riot of bold color.
25hours Hotel Zurich West
This first Swiss outpost of 25hours is also the first full-scale hotel project by the beloved local designer Alfredo Häberli, best known for his novel re-makings of everyday objects like chairs and coat hangers and cutlery. In another context, one such object would be merely a pleasant novelty, but cumulatively, their effect at 25hours is to pull guests into a world conjured by the sort of person who genuinely believes the coat hanger can be improved upon.
25hours Hotel Altes Hafenamt
Hamburg knows the value of its waterfront, and is currently rehabilitating huge swaths of industrial harbor sites to drum up more visitors. Case in point: the erstwhile Office for Electricity and Harbor Construction, gutted and reinhabited by 25hours Hotel Hamburg Altes Hafenamt. The past still lives in its way — a whiff of the sea-captain persists — but it’s combined with a healthy dose of the boutique chain’s fresh irreverence.
25hours Hotel at Museumsquartier
The 25hours at Museumsquartier is adjacent to the museum district and the Neubaugasse shopping quarter, in a spot that appeals perhaps more to the Vienna’s hip young creative class than to opera-history obsessives (for the duration of your stay you’ll be steeped in post-modern whimsy rather than Romantic drama). Vienna’s famous circuses provide historical inspiration as well, which helps explain the riotous colors and the generally maximalist interiors.
25hours Hotel The Goldman
The Goldman was created by a local nightclub impresario (whose name, it’s no coincidence, is Goldman) and boasts, among its themes, a different color scheme for each of its seven floors. The rooms all contain references to various notable Frankfurters, and they’re all bold and fun, never too pretentious and never ever minimalist. The hotel is stylish and at the same time affordable. That’s 25hours in a nutshell.
25hours Hotel Langstrasse
Werner Aisslinger’s interiors at 25hours Langstrasse never quite abandon the neighborhood’s cosmopolitan shuffle, as it were, but they do beautify proceedings with a delightful penchant for Belle Époque ornamentation; the man loves his color. If that sounds artful, you’ll be glad to hear of the actual artist’s atelier on site, wherein resident aesthetes take turns producing original works for eventual display in and around the building.
25hours Hotel One Central
The winningly irreverent 25hours brand has arrived in Dubai, and while its details are tailored to its location, its approach hasn’t changed a bit — this hotel, in all its eclectic charm, is quite a departure from the local hyper-luxe style. With 434 rooms it’s quite a bit larger than its European counterparts, and its size means it finds space for an impressive array of services, including the first mixed-gender sauna in all of Dubai.
Mark Fedeli is the hotel marketing and editorial director for Tablet and Michelin Guide. He’s been with Tablet since 2006, and he thinks you should subscribe to our newsletter.