The Null Stern Hotel Provided a Deliberate Minimum of Comfort
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The Null Stern Hotel (read: No Star Hotel) was opened in a stark concrete nuclear bunker beneath an otherwise unremarkable Swiss apartment block. True to its name, the lodging provided nothing to write home about. On purpose.
The work of artist twin brothers Frank and Patrik Riklin, the spartan hotel was advertised as a space where “The Only Star Is You.” Despite the brightly clever tag line, the institutional conditions of the hotel belied what seemed like a much crueler joke. Visitors to the hotel would enter through a thick blast door behind the apartments above, where they would then be checked in at a tiny reception kiosk before being led to one of two large rooms where the beds were placed in rows with no dividers. The washrooms were also communal.
All in all, the hotel held six single beds and four double beds, potentially sleeping a total of 14 unlucky souls. The stark concrete walls and floors of the purpose-built bunker remained unchanged, but the no-star hotel did offer amenities such as a single old television called “the virtual window,” hot water bottles for anyone who got a chill in the cold underground rooms, and, most hilariously, a fancy butler who delivered complimentary morning beverages for some reason.
For their part, the owners of the hotel seem sincere about the project, touting it as an experiment in minimalist reuse of space that would otherwise be left empty, also serving as a pointed alternative to increasingly opulent hotel culture. Yet the prankish air of the endeavor lingers.
The Null Stern operated for only a year, between 2009 and 2010, before the space was converted to a museum devoted to itself, as the owners pledged to branch out and open Null Stern Hotels all over the world. None has yet to appear, but the museum will still lead interested visitors through the old space. Alternatively, anyone craving the full experience could simply sleep in a construction site.
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