25 Hours Hotels is a relatively new brand (it launched in Hamburg in 2005) but is expanding quickly, helped by a significant (30 per cent) investment from Accorhotels, and so is available for booking through Accorhotels website as well as the 25 Hours one. The 12 hotels currently open under the brand are all different; in fact, the website declares, “Nothing looks less like a 25 Hours hotel than another 25 Hours hotel”. But there are consistent themes running through them, including quirky design, 100-250 rooms, 20 to 24 sqm standard guest room size and the Neni Mediterranean/Middle Eastern restaurant in four of the properties.
Where is it?
It is part of the new Europaallee development, a new urban quarter arising on a site covering more than 80,000 sqm, right alongside the tracks of Zurich main station. Directly opposite the hotel is the Kulturhaus Kosmos, which has a forum, stage, movie theatre, book salon, café, store and bistro. The shops in the area are trendy boutiques including a couple of branches of the Hidl vegetarian takeaway/restaurants, but you only have to walk a few minutes to find a more “real” Zurich, with kebab shops, bars, nightclubs and prostitutes.
What’s it like?
Very unusual. It is in a newly built block, albeit one with brightly lit words above the first floor. At first we missed that this was the hotel at all, since it was summer and the large amount of outdoor seating and parasols partly obscured the view of the name of the hotel. The neon words in different fonts said “sleep” “hug” “smile’’ and “Neni Zurich”, which is the name of the restaurant.
The visual distractions continue inside at the reception area where the designer, Werner Aisslinger, has collected objects from an old typewriter to a collection of ships in bottles and even a load of vintage shopping bags, suspended by ropes from the ceiling, that can be lowered and borrowed by guests. It’s an accurate taste of the brand and wherever you look, both in the rooms, the restaurant or the public areas, it’s as though you can see the fruits of dozens of brainstorming sessions where young millennial types have said, “Wouldn’t it be great if…”. And then been given the power, and the budget, to do it.
It’s staffed by hipsters in jeans, who are friendly but also knowledgeable, and a great source of tips for eating and sightseeing in the local area. And despite the uber-trendy vibe, the clientele are mixed – families with young children, 30-something couples and older business travellers.
The rooms are compact with en suite facilities incorporated into the space rather than as a separate room – the shower is in a glass-fronted cubicle, the sink in a corner of the room, but thankfully for those travelling as a couple, the toilet is separated with walls and a door. Our fourth-floor corner room had picture windows with window seats on two sides overlooking the roof garden of the arthouse cinema next door. The industrial theme of the ground floor continues, with polished concrete floors, raw concrete ceilings and painted concrete walls. Playful details add warmth – a metal pole hanging above the bed had toys suspended it from it as well as design magazines and reading lights.
The downside of any area undergoing major regeneration is the noise, and when we visited, construction work was still going on at 11pm. Even the triple-glazed windows couldn’t block out the drilling sound, which also started up again at 6.30am. Don’t let it put you off experiencing this vibrant area – just pack earplugs if you want an early night or a lie in.
The ground floor is home to Neni, with an Israeli-inspired menu, created and managed by the Molcho family – the name is taken from the initials of the family’s four handsome sons – Nuriel, Elior, Nadir and Ilan. In the evening, it’s buzzing with a stylish afterwork crowd, so you need to book. Food is cooked in an open kitchen with a woodburning stove. Mezze choices include Nuriel’s favourite falafel, a humous selection that includes beetroot and horseradish, and curry-mango as well as classic humous, and Susskartoffel – oven-baked sweet potato with roasted almonds, crème fraîche and spinach. Main course highlights include spicy caramel aubergine ragout with ginger, sesame and chilli; chicken shawarma with garlic cream, mashed potatoes and herb salad; and Neni-style beef and lamb kebab with hot tahini.
If you don’t get in for dinner, you can experience Neni at breakfast, where usual breakfast buffets staples are augmented with chickpea dishes, humous and spicy shaksuksa. A highlight was the extensive selection of leaf teas.
Décor wise, Neni follows the quirkiness of the rest of the hotel, with raised sections created from scaffolding, shelving holding trailing foliage, and a forest of light shades threaded through a grid suspended below exposed air vents of the ceiling. An impeccably cool soundtrack of soul and R&B classics made you want to linger just to hear what track would come up next. There are tables outside in summer, where you can eat or just have a drink, and enjoy live music.
The Cinahona bar on the ground floor is a destination in itself – an imposing stainless-steel three-sided bar with one wall entirely covered with a brightly lit surreal photographic image. Seating is at low tables with square vintage style leather sofas with open shelving stacked with trailing plants providing privacy. There is also a separate, sunken lounge area with low sofas.
The workspace on the first floor has bench style desks with power and USP points, quiet areas with sofas and low tables, and Faeiraum, a loft-style conference room decorated with musical instruments and album covers.
There is a small gym and the Trainspotting sauna on the roof (named after the view of the train tracks, rather than the film), with a terrace and sun loungers. On the first floor, there are vintage pinball and fruit machines. But it’s the perfect spot to explore the new regenerated Europaallee area, now home to stylish stores such as Kevin in the Woods, selling outdoor clothes, and Ego Revolution, selling drool-worthy cycles, interspersed with gorgeous-looking cafes and bars. It’s also a short stroll to the Viadukt area, with its interior design stores and former industrial warehouses now home to gourmet markets and eateries. You can also walk to the old town in around 20 minutes, or catch a tram to get there in five.
There’s no doubt that a stay at 25 Hours is a unique experience. Whether you love its quirkiness or find it all a bit self-conscious (and a tad on the cluttered side), you will go home with lots to talk about. Location-wise, it’s hard to beat in terms of convenience (right by the train station with its high-speed connection to the airport), and interest – it’s like London’s Shoreditch, minus the litter, graffiti, traffic and tourists.
A fresh look at what hotels can be without neglecting the essentials, such as a good night’s sleep and free wifi.
The Neni restaurant, and the lounge on the seventh floor with its view of the train tracks.
25 Hours Hotel Langstrasse, Langstrasse 150, 8004 Zurich; +41 44 576 50 00; 25hours-hotels.com