Dzien dobry! House & Hotel Magazine features another funky place in Poland.
Poznan a charming European town with a gorgeous city square, a 1,000-year plus history full of horrific wars and destruction, a Catholic bent and a surprising cosy athmosphere.
I’m here to visit the hotel Blow Up Hall 50/50, one of the most unique hotels in Europe.
Entering in the front door, you’re immediately struck by the grand entrance hall, complete with its four levels of brickwork and artworks ranging from the giant “Red Dwarf” at the back of the hall, through a number of artworks including a Spencer Tunick, to the spinning light installation above you.
The project is build by Grażyna Kulczyk, the one of the richest woman in Poland. Grażyna sees herself much more as a passionate patron of the arts.
She calls her signature approach to business the 5050 model: everything should be 50 percent art, 50 percent business, each side supporting the other. In this spirit, she bought up the crumbling carcass of a gigantic old brewery in 2003 and began development on a complex that houses two high-class shopping malls, a free art gallery where Kulczyk shows her personal collection of modern art, and the Blow Up Hall hotel.
The amazing brickwork and architecture of the old brewery were painstakingly preserved and worked into the ultra-modern design of the “Stary Browar” center and Kulczyk has dotted hundreds of artworks, big and small, throughout the complex to give it her twist.
There’s no check-in desk, just a concierge who confirms your booking and hands you your room key – an iPhone 5. It’s yours for the duration of your stay, it comes pre-fitted with a Polish sim card and you can use it throughout the city.
From there you step into the lobby – and into the key Blow Up Hall artwork itself, designed by digital artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and inspired by Blowup, a British art film of the 1960s. Most of the room is in dark shadow, barring a starkly lit path up the center leading to a series of large screens in which your own image is digitized and split up into a dizzying pixellated array.
The Blow Up Hall 5050 is really amazing. We checked in and were served a drink whilst our passports were photocopied and then were handed an iPhone which has an app which unlocks your room door. The hotel has 20 rooms and there was no problem accommodating us. We were given the choice of a standard room or a suite.
Being led to the lift, you enter an area decorated in just black & white – be it the carpet or the furniture. You can’t help but see the 3 huge plasma TV screens mounted vertically on the wall.
There are hidden video cameras which record your movements and so you feel artifical. The whole area is dark – making it difficult to find the lift call button.
The corridor leading to our room was no different. Black & white carpet on the floor; black walls and a TV screen with a built-in camera outside each room entrance. Once again, your movements become the art. You use the iPhone app to unlock your door and then you enter into a room which is contemporarily furnished and which follows the black & white theme. The bathorrom is entirely black including the sanitaryware.
A window separates it from the sleeping area, the bathroom fittings are contemporary.
There’s a nice Bang & Olufsen tv and also a Denon docking point to re-charge the iPhone. The room has all the other ‘freebies’ associated you’d expect.
The location of the hotel means that you’re right on top of the shopping galleries and a short walk to the main square.
We had dinner at the hotel and weren’t disappointed. Unfortunately there were only two other diners , the hotel was remarkably quiet all round, so the restaurant lacked atmosphere. Having said that, the food preparation and serving was pretty near perfect.
There was a good selection of wines, although the French wines were not the best.
We would recommend to have Piroggi and Vodka outside.
Breakfast was typically Polish -lots of meat-. Hmm.
There’s no serve yourself buffet, – it’s all -a bit old-fashioned- table service.
The standard of service throughout was exemplary.
Courteous, well presented members of staff made you feel welcome; greeted you with a smile all the time.
Finally we met the famous polish photographer “Mr.”Blow up” Robby Cyron.
A night’s stay with dinner and a bottle of wine is around 350 €, a bit extravagant for sure, but a truly unforgettable experience. Enjoy, Poland is a beautiful country.