Indoor Camping - Overnighting in Retro Style

  • Guenter Waechter
  • India
  • Aug 30, 2013



The 15 caravans - or travel trailers - dating back to the 1950s and 1960s have names like Big Ben, Hunting Lodge and Rockabilly. Their travelling days over, they stand parked in an old warehouse in Bonn. They offer Indoor Camping, a home-away-from-home adventure.


At his BaseCamp, Bonn hotelier Michael Schloesser has four Airstream models - the legendary US travel trailers with their characteristic streamlined shape, in gleaming aluminium. The Huettenpalast (Hut Palace) in Berlin has a similar concept, offering its guests accommodation in caravans and small wooden huts set up in the former production hall of an old factory. A key  advantage these caravans offer is a permanent roof, as holidays in the Northern European summers are seldom rain-free. The indoor campers stay dry while still being able to sleep out of doors, so to speak.

The Bonn indoor camping site covers some 1,600 square metres and counts school groups among its customers. Schloesser has acquired two old railway carriages, one of them a sleeper and the other with reclining chairs, and set them up in the hall too.

Guests seeking something more intimate can opt for an old Trabant, the icon of East German communist motoring technology, complete with a two-person tent on the roof. Also on offer are models from Volkswagen and Citroen.

“Collecting all of these old vehicles wasn’t that easy,” Schloesser says. He found many of them at an auction in the Netherlands, engaging the services of a film-set maker to turn them into acceptable accommodation units.

Much of the decor comes from Berlin’s well-stocked flea markets. Rockabilly is covered on the outside with vinyl seven singles, while the Drag Queen is in bright colours with a great deal of plush and chintz.

In front of each of the vehicles there is a garden, with places to sit in the appropriate theme. The Hunting Lodge has a boar’s head and deer’s antlers mounted on the outside, above a sofa covered with animal skins.

Schloesser has also had a gallery measuring 170 square metres installed in the hall, to provide a kitchen and seating for breakfast – and it offers a panoramic view out over the entire hall and its walls, decorated in the theme of a South Pacific holiday. The Reception is open 24 hours, and the campsite is monitored by closed-circuit television. Outside, there is an old US school bus in traditional yellow, serving fries, burgers and sausages.

Unlike the average big-city campsites that are always in the suburbs, BaseCamp is in the heart of Bonn, within easy walking distance of the museums and the old West German government quarter. Huettenpalast is in the middle of the trendy area that straddles the Berlin boroughs of Kreuzberg and Neukoelln, to the south-east of the City centre.

The prices reflect the changed status of the cities. In the sleepy former West German capital, a bed in the sleeper carriage can  be had for as little as 22 euros (30 dollars), rising to 128 euros for one of the Airstreams; while in trendy Berlin, single accommodation starts at 55 euros.


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