Berlin hipster hotel taps bygone squat spirit

Wed Nov 18, 2009 7:27am EST
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By Brian Rohan

BERLIN (Reuters Life!) - The days of rent-free living in the shadow of the Berlin Wall may be long past, but for those seeking an upscale version of the German capital's once-vibrant squat life, look no further.

Opened in former factory offices near one of the last remaining stretches of the wall, Michelberger Hotel's mix of chic and shabby is a shrine to the city's industrial edginess and enduring culture of shared living arrangements.

Beds atop mezzanines reminiscent of New York lofts, sharp design gravitating around voyeuristic glass cube showers, common areas with the feel of a boutique hotel - it's hard to imagine it started on the fly.

"We didn't even have all the permits when we started ripping up the old flooring," says Tom Michelberger, owner and one-time business student who drew inspiration from California's dot-com boom and Berlin's once endless supply of vacant space.

"You can do a lot with a little in this town."

Rooms go for 65 euros to 140 euros