I slowly started to stir in my little bed. I turned over and pulled my covers up to my ears. I could hear the campground waking up around me and morning light started to illuminate my little caravan. I heard people whispering morning conversations, searching for toothbrushes and taking the walk to the campground bathroom. This is actually one of my favorite things about camping, this group campground mentality – that we are all in it together – out here in nature.
But we weren’t actually out in nature. Six other caravans surrounded me, but we were all inside a large building with a cement floor. We didn’t drive our caravans here, they were already in the building as a permanent fixture in this unique ‘hotel’ in Berlin’s hip Neukölln neighborhood. This was not your typical glamping – instead it was one of the most inventive ideas for urban glamping I had ever experienced.
I took my morning walk to the ‘campground’ shared bathroom and it was all toasty and warm inside as the radiator was going full blast. I said hello to the other campers and took my hot shower. This was much better than regular camping! And instead of sitting around a campfire, people gathered at the little wooden breakfast bar in the morning. I grabbed one of the croissants and apples that were available to all of the ‘campers’, made myself a cup of coffee, and sat on the chairs neatly arranged outside of my caravan planning what I was going to do in Berlin for the day.
“Huttenpalast means cabin palace in German – we wanted a play on words,” Silke explained. Silke and her partner Sarah dreamed up the idea for this adorable indoor caravan campground in 2009. She was at a crossroads in her career, a burned out event planner, in desperate need of a change in her life. Silke knew nothing about how to run or start a hotel, but she was familiar with how to be a customer in one. She had grown up in a family that moved around a lot, living in many countries and staying in hotels for much of her life.
She had three goals for Huttenpalast
1. Every guest should have a place to sleep that is clean and tidy with attention to detail.
2. Have good beds – no cheap mattresses. After all, people are paying for a good night’s sleep when they book a night in a hotel.
3. Keep it personal and create experiences where people can easily meet and mingle from the employees to the guests.
Caravans with Attention to Detail
Kleine Schwester (little sister), Friedel, Dubener Ei (egg), and Schnewittchen (Snow White) – each caravan has a name and a story. No two caravans are alike at Huttenpalast as each one was researched and bought via ebay around the region by Silke and Sarah. Once they transported them back to Berlin, they gutted, and refurbished the retro caravans to their original glory. The kitchenettes and tables were removed in the caravans to make room for comfy large mattresses.
We stayed in the Schwalbennest (swallow’s nest), which was the only West German model among the family of caravans. It had a little closet and a table with cushioned seats that also converted into a single sleeping ‘bed’. I adored the modern touches in the retro caravans like the wooden shelving designed by a local artist. Sarah and Silke had curated each caravan beautifully giving each a personality.
Swallow’s Nest – our glamping home for 3 nights
The other caravan that stole my heart was the Snow White caravan – perfect for the solo traveler. Outside 7 little Garden Gnomes surrounded it and inside it was only big enough to sleep one person…Snow White of course.
Snow White’s Solo Caravan
The Dubener Ei had been elevated so that you had to go up a flight of stairs to enter it. It was the penthouse of the caravans. In addition to the retro caravans, there were also 4 little cabins at Huttenpalast that were created special for the space.
The ‘Penthouse’ Egg complete with flower box
Tiny Cabins intermixed with Caravans
Comfortable Beds in a Small Space
Most of the caravans consisted of simply a bed inside, but these were not typical European beds. You won’t find any split twin beds pushed into a queen at Huttenpalast! Instead you have a proper queen mattress in most of the caravans that’s super comfortable and outfitted in luxurious thread count sheets. In fact, I’m pretty sure the beds were a big upgrade to the original beds in the caravans! I slept like a baby during my nights in the caravan.
Every bit of space in the caravans are filled with comfy beds
Meet and Mingle
It’s an indoor campground, and it’s a super place to socialize. Outside of each caravan was space for people to sit, mingle, read, work or drink. Little faux trees dotted the space and funky 60’s inspired chairs, couches, and lamps made the place cozy. Every little nook had a cushion, and there was even a community ukulele. Every detail was impeccable down to the glass mugs for unlimited tea and coffee.
If you want to get outside for real and enjoy nature you can do that in the summer months in the Huttenpalast garden. It’s full of plants, picnic tables and hammocks – a warm inviting place to mingle with other visitors.
A shared ukulele
Not only is there shared space in the caravan area and a garden, but Huttenpalast also has a sidewalk café that serves coffee and breakfast accessible by guests and locals. So you may even get to mingle with Berliners while staying there.
Instead of having to hitch a caravan to your car and fight traffic and mosquitos, you get a lovely indoor glamping environment in the city. Berlin is full of creative, innovative ideas, so why would you want to stay in a normal hotel when you could be glamping in a restored, cozy caravan?