Dream of a night under the stars but allergic to sleeping bags? This summer in Switzerland, an artistic/hospitality concept named Null Stern- The Only Star is You may offer exactly what you need!
Imagine a hotel room without a roof or walls, set directly under the sky within a magnificent Alpine landscape. For some, it may look like an optical illusion, but for the 6,500 travelers on the waiting list, a night at Null Stern (whether near Saillon in the Valais region or at 6,463 feet above sea level in one of six locations in Eastern Switzerland) is very much a reality. Surrounded by vineyards, the Saillon suites will be available from July 1 through September 18, 2022.
“The definition of luxury has evolved over the years from tangible to intangible,” said co-founder hotelier Daniel Charpentier. “Marble in the bathroom is now much less important than a guest’s emotional experience.”
Mr. Charpentier worked in hotels all over the world before he came back to settle in his native Switzerland. There, he met concept artists (and twin brothers) Frank and Patrik Riklin, known first for an art installation set inside a 1980s nuclear shelter hidden in the basement of an apartment building in St. Gallen. They named it “Null Stern Hotel,” the no-star hotel. Since then, the Riklin brothers continue to imagine artwork and art installations that challenge people’s habits and thought processes. outside of museums and galleries, i
For Null Stern, the three partners search locations that offer both a dramatic backdrop and view. They build platforms on which they place a Queen size bed, two nightstands and light fixtures.
“We call them zero-real estate suites,” said Mr. Charpentier. “But they are within walking distance of bathrooms and also a back-up bedroom that’s reserved for these guests in case the weather turns.”
Each suite costs $295 per night and comes with its own butler, in charge of bringing out dinner and breakfast to guests in bed. But the Null Stern butler is its own invention too. The person who takes care of the guests will wear a white shirt, white gloves and a bowtie but will have complete freedom as to what else to wear. And while he will be responsible for traditional service tasks, he will also be freed to improvise in order to enhance the experience.
Inspired by the simple beauty of the Swiss landscape, the Riklin brothers are known for taking their art outside of museums and galleries, the typical boundaries. In fact, by giving human beings a place to rest within nature, they are showcasing the landscape as art.
Finally, a new suite named the “anti-idyllic” suite and created in partnership with the town of Saillon, challenges even the beauty of the landscape. Set between a gas station and a highway, it aims to provoke a “positive disruption.”
“There are so many problems in the world right now, how can we sleep?” asked Patrik Riklin. “Our new version is an incubator for reflection.”
The brothers’ goal is to make guests stop and think. Perhaps by continuously breaking with conventions, they will succeed in bringing people together to effect change.
“What is luxury? How can we be safe?” they ask.
“We all love nature, but we continue to destroy it,” he said. “The bedrooms of the future may very well not have walls or roofs anymore because we won’t have the resources to build them any other way.”
Whether you choose the “conventional” suites or the anti-idyllic one, Null Stern will challenge your thinking. Will we just go back to the way we used to travel before the pandemic? Art asks questions. The answers are up to us.