Do tell, what special accommodations do you have lined up for your upcoming summer travels?
A concrete sewage pipe along the Danube?
If that last one at all rings a bell, chances are you’re heading to the charming Austrian village of Ottensheim for an overnight stay in the one and only (emphasis on only) Dasparkhotel.
Open May through October and more of a semi-rural campground-cum-open-air art installation than a proper hotel, there are no rustic cabins to be found on the grounds of Dasparkhotel — just a trio of old sewer pipes that have been cleaned out, spruced up and converted into barrel-shaped concrete crash pads equipped with all the necessities: a lamp, an electrical outlet, and a full-size bed topped with fresh linens that offer “maximum comfort in a minimum amount of space.”
Guests access their concrete cubbyholes with a keypad code that's sent via text message. (Photo: foam/flickr)
While there are no windows in these cave-like cubbyholes in which human waste once (presumably) gushed forth, each has a single circular dachfenster in which to gaze out at the stars at night while cozied up in bed.
An outlet. A cozy bed. A skylight. Secure keypad entry. Plenty of space to stash luggage. What else does one need from repurposed sewage pipe inn?
If you answered a bunch of tiny toiletries and a designated place to use them, well, you’re out of luck as Dasparkhotel's “concrete sleep-pipes” are not equipped with en-suite bathrooms. And guests should be advised to bring along their own little bars of soap and tiny shampoo bottles.
However, the latest and greatest sanitation-centric feature of Dasparkhotel is indeed a loo: a specially designed “Sanitube” outfitted with a toilet, sink and shower. So okay, the facilities are shared amongst guests. But it's better than nothing, right? Because after all, you simply can’t have a repurposed sewer pipe hotel without at least one repurposed sewer pipe bathroom.
Now, you may be wondering how exactly guests of Dasparkhotel dealt with bathroom-related issues previous to the arrival of the Sanitube last summer. After all, Austrian artist Andreas Strauss opened Ottensheim’s Dasparkhotel for business in 2004 — that’s 10 blissfully facility-free years.
For the most part, guests of Dasparkhotel were left to fend for themselves and rely on infrastructure in and around the Ottensheim Freizeitgelände recreation area for washing up, showering, responding to nature’s call, etc. After all, Strauss never envisioned the pipes as places to spend an exorbitant amount of time in. Offering no-frills sleep and storage space for adventurous travelers, the pipe-chambers are more of an “all hours access safety zone — the charger for your personal energy reserves.”
Dasparkhotel is also completely free of established rates. That is, the sewer pipe lodgings, as “a non-commercial hospitality tool” are available for hire on a pay-as-you-like basis. Guests are, of course, encouraged to fork over something for their stay (three nights maximum) but how much they choose to leave is completely up to them. Advanced online booking is compulsory.
Austrian artist Andreas Strauss relaxes outside of a "concrete sleep-pipe." (Photo: Alex Barth/flickr)
In addition to Upper Austria (Ottensheim is a quick 25 minute drive to the cake-famous state capital of Linz), Strauss has expanded the sleep-in-a-sewage-pipe Dasparkhotel concept to a most appropriate locale: Bernepark, a sprawling wastewater treatment plant-turned-park and cultural center located on Emscher Island outside of Essen, Germany.
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