The hotel with no walls, no ceiling and no vacancies

Null Stern Hotel in Switzerland is breaking all the rules.

Null Stern Hotel, Switzerland

This article refers to the 2016 installation of Null Stern.

What is a hotel, really? That’s the rather existential question Null Stern Hotel has us pondering. Part art installation and part B&B, the ultra-minimalist “hotel” consists of an open-air double bed with two nightstands set into a hillside in Teufen, Switzerland. It may not sound like much, but that’s exactly the point of Null Stern, which is German for “zero stars.”

“The brand name ‘Null Stern – the only star is you’ encapsulates our concept,” says co-creator Daniel Charbonnier. “The star is not the hotel but the guest, and his or her experience.” This is the second unorthodox guest house that he and conceptual artists Frank and Patrik Riklin have devised; in 2009 they launched the first iteration of Null Stern in a former nuclear bunker.

In both cases they did away with upscale decor and amenities, and focused solely on the intangible aspects of the hotel experience, such as atmosphere, service and singularity. “We are trying to re-think the concept of real estate in the traditional hospitality model,” says Charbonnier. “With this new version of Null Stern we kept the same essence but got rid of all the walls, so Switzerland itself becomes the hotel.”

In addition to showcasing the country’s mountainous northeastern landscape, another of their objectives is to involve the local community. As such, the hotel is managed by regional tourism bodies and staffed by the area’s residents. Charbonnier explains: “We created a ‘Modern Butler Club’ made up of people from the local community that we have trained. The butlers oversee the entire stay and are available 24/7. For example, if it starts raining during the night, the butler will take guests to a nearby chalet where we have a bed waiting. They are also there to help with hiking suggestions, local attractions or dinner reservations.”

Unfortunately the one thing they can’t help with is a bathroom. For that, guests have to walk five minutes down the road to the nearest restaurant. However that hasn’t deterred too many people from booking – the hotel, which costs 250 Swiss Francs ($338 AUD) per night, is sold out for the summer. Charbonnier says they’re planning to reopen next year with multiple beds installed in various locations around the country. If that happens, Null Stern will have created something even more unusual than a hotel room with no walls: the world’s first zero-star national hotel chain.

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