Homes Away From Home - OZY | A Modern Media Company

Homes Away From Home

By Eugene S. Robinson


Because the Ramada, while not a bad deal for the average traveler, skirts the unspoken issue: WE are not average travelers.

If reality TV has taught us a sometimes-painful truism, it’s that we’re all stars in our own dramas. And if your drama is anything like our not-painful-at-all drama, it involves international travel, interpersonal intrigue and a level of sex appeal heretofore unimaginable. But for this to really work it needs to have everything picture-perfect: how you get there, why you’re going and where you stay. We can’t help with the first two, but for the last one? We’ve got ideas.

And those ideas offer (most significantly) cutting-edge style, high weave sheets and an acknowledgment that the last thing you want to feel when you’re in a hotel is that you’re IN a hotel. Add to this privacy, quiet and discretion, which are different words for the same thing: not having to hear what’s happening in the next room any more than having them hear what’s happening in yours — and you have a glimpse into how our particular drama’s going to unfold when OZY hits the road.

The last thing you want to feel when you’re in a hotel is that you’re IN a hotel. 

Which we recently did, and what we found when we hit Berlin was over 157 boutique hotels, all of which qualified: personalized, well-designed and fashionable. But through a switchboard of people in the know, we found one, the perfect one, right in the mix and on the edge of shop-strewn Rosenthaler Strasse called Der Neue Weltempfaenger, recently derived from hotelier genius Stephan Rothfuss’s Weltempfaenger’s Wohnanhaenger.

Started by Stephan Rothfuss at the behest of some private investors, Weltempfaenger’s Wohnanhaenger rethought the traditional hotel experience. “Our hotel theory would not maybe work mass market, but we’re not concerned about mass market. Which is the essence of boutique and why we don’t advertise,” says Rothfuss as cooks and DJs scurry back and forth in the HBC eatery, which he is closing and migrating to a new dinner club he’s opening called curiously ”+-”, as in Plus Minus. While Rothfuss has moved on from the hotel business, new owner Jennifer Conzendorf is committed to Rothfuss’s original comfortable great business plan.

So rather than continue on with the tradition of having your hotel stays feel like a hermetically sealed tour of luxe room after luxe room, Der Neue Weltempfaenger wanted very much to keep the IN-country feel. So while using high-end, radiant-heated bamboo flooring, designer bedding and fair-use furniture, Rothfuss had also made sure that the top two floors of every building were real apartments, with real people living there. So you’re collecting your receipts, memos and newspapers from a mailbox in the same lobby where some Berliner is grabbing her bills and monthly magazine subscriptions.

Nice and normalizing, and when you’re asked, as you inevitably are when you return, what it was like, you’ll have something to say other than, “From a hotel perspective, I’d have to say that Berlin is much like Boston.” Because it is not. At all.


Sign up for the weekly newsletter!

Related Stories