During the Christmas break in 2014 my friend and I decided to take a trip around Berlin and also into Poland to spend Christmas Day in Krakow. The tour of Berlin was subsequently split into two halves, with a couple of nights there before Poland and a couple of nights spent thereafter. On the return leg of Berlin we didn’t have a place to stay and like most nights, we searched for a place online once we arrived in our new destination – aimlessly booking without looking at websites or reading reviews, in the process. It was sort of like a hit-and-hope method and for the entire journey so far it had been a huge success and thrown out some pretty cool and unique places for us to rest our heads.
Perhaps I was a little foolhardy to presume the same level of success would continue indefinitely. Once our train from Warsaw pulled up in Berlin we plonked ourselves in the first Starbucks we could find and set about booking a hotel for that night as soon as possible. Our hotel of choice for that evening just so happened to be The Axel Hotel.
Contrary to what I said just before, this time I did happen to read one review. It was brief, and positive and mentioned that the hotel was next door to a gay bar. After mentioning this to my friend we both agreed that this could be cool, fun and quirky, especially if we fancied a couple of drinks later that night.
We set off and made our way to our hotel where we planned to dump our bags before heading out to explore more of Berlin. Upon arrival I sensed that something was slightly unusual as we were greeted by two extremely camp, male receptionists and my eyes darted towards the collection of penis shaped leaflets scattered around the front desk. Behind the two receptionists (who were incredibly hospitable may I hasten to add) was a large life sized photograph printed on the wall, of two naked men, in a form of wrestling embrace. Interesting choice of art – I innocently thought to myself.
Once checked in we bundled ourselves into the lift and headed to the sixth floor where our room was. I wish I had packed a torch or at least a couple of candles because the corridors that led to our room were almost completely without light, with the black walls only partially lit by the dull red hew of some scattered neon style lanterns.
Once at our door we were faced with an absurdly difficult key card system which defeated our weary brains and left us unable to access our room. Luckily for us a rather jolly pair of gents who happened to be passing by were all too eager to help. I was very grateful for their assistance and the vibes they gave off left me with an uncontrollable smile. Despite the seediness, I quite liked this place.
When entering the our room, the theme of dark corridors appeared to continue as we were presented with yet more black walls and dull lighting, but this time, with the added bonus of glass paneling to separate the bedroom from the shower. No joke, the glass was from floor to ceiling and there were certainly no doors or walls to offer any privacy.
To my horror, when turning on the TV I was presented with two naked men, a selection of gay porn videos to choose from and a large message which simply read “Welcome Anthony”.
Whilst my friend was perusing the welcome pack we stumbled across instructions on how to use the door hangers which could be hung on the outside of your door to alert those walking past. ‘C’ stood for ‘cleaning’ which was obviously to be used when requiring housekeeping. ‘S’ stood for ‘Silence’ – as in, do not disturb. Finally, ‘D’ stood for ‘Disturb’ and those wishing to brandish this hanger were then knowingly welcoming any fellow hotel guest to walk in without so much as a knock. Rather liberal, you may agree?
To get over the madness, we spent the day snooping around Berlin, looking forward to our return to the hotel later that night and the imminent use of the Spa facilities on the top floor, which also boasted unimpeded views of the Berlin skyline.
As I wheeled myself into the Spa area in nothing but a bathrobe I was met by a site which can never be unseen. I will spare you the details but whatever you allow to pop into your imagination – times it by ten and then you’ll be getting close to the severity of what I was found.
I’m a trooper though, so I wasn’t about to be perturbed. I ushered my friend into the Spa to join me and the hilarity of what ensued still makes us chuckle to this day. As my friend, who by the way is a woman, entered that steamy hot Spa area, every single man that was relaxing in there covered up their exposed manhood, quickly threw on their bathrobe and scurried out of the Spa faster than anything else I’d seen that day.
The moral of the story is simply this – if you want to have a rooftop Spa session at midnight all on your own, with breathtaking views of beautiful Berlin below – take a female friend with you to a gay hotel.