Provocateur Hotel Berlin

Provocateur Hotel Berlin, Photo: Provocateur

At Hotel Provocateur, guests can live unfettered by norms and rigid expectations, and simply forget time and all their responsibilities. General manager, Julia Himburg, spoke to us about her shamelessly good hotel

Interview: Nina Prehofer

What is so provocative about the Hotel Provocateur?

Julia Himburg: I believe the interior and the staff speak for themselves. Anyone who has been here knows what I mean.

What is the concept behind the hotel?

Julia Himburg: We are a small boutique hotel with 58 rooms and suites. A special part of our style is the burlesque, inspired by Parisian flair of the 1920s. This was the period post-First World War when the economy was on the up and, for the first time in a long time, people were able to experience something approaching pleasure. They wanted to party and have a good time.

That is the feeling we want to give our guests:
carefree enjoyment.

Bohemian life not just in Paris but also in the Berlin of the 1920s is legendary. Why?

Julia Himburg: The Bohemian lifestyle was not bound by norm or convention – it was all about being yourself; being authentic. In other words not hiding or forgetting who you really were. It was natural and genuine.

How is this reflected in the hotel?

Julia Himburg: Certain standards of work – to which our staff adhere – of course apply. Our staff do, however, have a lot of freedom. There are no rules about hairstyles or nail polish. Not only do we accept each individual character, we seek to involve every individual in our concept. To us, employing real people with personality rather than puppets is in itself a form of creativity. Our staff shape our product and give colour and life to the concept.

is the general manager of Hotel Provocateur in Berlin-Charlottenburg. Like the Roomers Hotels and the Bristol in Frankfurt, the Provocateur is part of Micky Rosen’s and Alex Urseanu’s Gekko Group.

Is that freedom one of the things people love about the Bohemian lifestyle?

Julia Himburg: Yes, people wanted and were able to be themselves without any restrictions. That was important to people back then, and is still important today. I believe that if you are accepted as you are, you are so much freer and make so much more of what you have. The more colourful and more authentic my team, the more unique my hotel.

Does “everyone can be happy in their own way” also apply to guests?

Julia Himburg: Of course! That is what makes our hotel so special: being able to live the way you want. Life here is definitely a little different.

The interior design was created by the Amsterdam designer Saar Zafrir. Through what colours, shapes and materials has he interpreted your lifestyle?

Julia Himburg: A lot of velvet, red, black and gold. This means a cosy yet striking ambiance. The Woody Allen film “Midnight in Paris” and the Hotel Costes in Paris were an inspiration to us.

I don’t recall “Midnight in Paris” being particularly provocative.

Julia Himburg: The main character, Gil Pender, travels through time to 1920s Paris. There was a bar where everyone met – Hemingway, Dalí … the list goes on – and it was the idea behind the interior design concept: that philosophy of celebrating life and living it to its full. We have created a place that reflects this time travel. Of course, there is also a touch of Berlin sophistication. Fundamentally, however, we are a meeting place for fascinating people, and somewhere you can be undisturbed and escape from the outside world. There is no concept of time here. And that means more freedom.

What are your favourite touches in the hotel?

Julia Himburg: In our old building, the original lift from 1912 is still in operation. I think that’s my absolute favourite feature.

Your bar was named the 2019 “Hotel Bar of the Year”. What is special about it?

Julia Himburg: Apart from the interior and the ambiance, our superb team who create a new menu with their very own drinks each year. We have one of the most innovative bar teams in the German-speaking world. The last bar menu was based on famous personalities from the 1920s. The current menu centres on traditional spirits. For example, we work with Korn (grain schnapps), which is not a familiar on-trend drink. Our bar menu is like a magazine: it is also the place to come for great tips on Berlin and our hotel.

The atmosphere?

Julia Himburg: Really relaxed.

When we close the curtains, you lose all sense of time.

Suddenly, it’s four in the morning! We always have just the right background music with a great DJ.

In the kitchen of the “Golden Phoenix”, The Duc Ngo works his magic. Style: Paris meets China?

Julia Himburg: That’s right, we have a Franco-Chinese concept that combines traditional Chinese cuisine with French flavours and touches. Our head chef’s grandmother was Chinese, and he offers a whole new take on her recipes. Fine dining with us refers to the food – there is nothing rigidly formal about the experience.

One more question: I have heard rumours of “provocateur mode” …

Julia Himburg: They might be true, but I can’t reveal more here. You will just have to find out for yourself!

Photos: provocateur, all rights reserved