Designed by the Austrian architect Andreas Strauss, Dasparkhotels can be found in in Ottensheim, Austria, and in Essen, Germany. On both sites, there are five individual units upcycled from unused sections of sewer pipe. Yes, “unused” means that the concrete structure never has and hopefully never will come into contact with human waste.
The lodgings are clean, eco-friendly, and fairly unique. While the rooms are similar at the TuboHotel in Mexico City, the European design offers an obviously distinct location, plus greater privacy thanks to the opaque doors and the space between dwellings.
Walled entirely in concrete, Dasparkhotels are energy-efficient, safe, and easy to maintain. The natural material passively cools the rooms in the summer, is virtually impossible to break into, and requires only basic cleaning. Because of the low-key setup, Dasparkhotels are easy and affordable, operating on a pay-what-you-wish basis.
The rooms are meant to host one or two guests. Furnished with just a double-bed, the sleeping quarters encourage people to go outside and explore. Nonetheless, the Optimo bed is quite nice with an ergonomic frame made of slatted wood. A Eurofoam mattress cushions the bed, and a built-in desk surface holds fresh linens and blankets inside. The elevated design provides space for luggage storage underneath. A circular glass skylight brightens the interior, and the unique textile wall brings color to the otherwise minimalist chamber. An innovative, contemporary camping lodge, the design is also wired with electrical outlets and outfitted with a reading lamp.
Electricity aside, the grounds are rather spartan. There is a water fountain and a shared bathroom in a separate unit, but the showers are medium-cold, and there are no toiletries. Unless a “no shampoo experiment” sounds like fun, visitors should bring their own products or stock up locally.
Austria’s Dasparkhotel location is in Ottensheim, the home of the Open Air Ottensheim music festival and one of the oldest movie theatres the state. Situated in Rodl Park, the accommodations face the creek Rodl, which runs into the Danube River. The rural site is just a five-minute walk from town, where tourists can dine, shop, and enjoy the culture. Dasparkhotel recommends dining at donau.hof, Gregor, Schwarzer Adler, and Gasthof zur Post, as well as eating breakfast at the park buffet or the café Rechberger and buying wine and snacks at the Friday farmer’s market. After a meal, guests can stroll around the historic streets and enjoy the beauty of Rodl park, hiking through the forest and swimming in the Danube.
Vacationers looking for an outdoor adventure in a slightly more urban environment should try Dasparkhotel’s German outpost is in Essen, one of the country’s greenest cities. The locale often holds large events such as the Essen Motor Show, the SPIEL gaming exhibition, and the Equitana horse fair. Throughout the year, activity-seekers can also check out the pastoral Emscher bicycle path, Design Zentrum NRW (the Red Dot Design Museum), and the historic Zollverein Coal Mine. Additionally, the hotel itself is located in BernePark, previously BernePark sewage. The reclaimed industrial site is elegantly revamped with circular pools and landscaped gardens. The on-site restaurant is housed inside a former plant. Renovated with luxury dining rooms, the bistro serves modern German dishes made with fresh, local produce. Entrées range from crisp salads to ox roast with malt beer truffle sauce.
Both Dasparkhotels are open from May to October. Booking for the 2015 season will open in April, when reservations for up to three days’ vacation will be placeable here. Upon booking confirmation, the self-serve website assigns a personal key code, so travelers will be all set for an off-the-map vacation.