A Night at the Elemental Hotel
If you haven’t heard of Swedish design duo Björn Wassenberger and Astrid Lasserlöf, the power couple behind a collection of unique hotels around the world, take note: They are the next big thing in travel.
I, for one, am a huge fan. I’ve nibbled on the walls of EatME, their innovative meat motel in Argentina and felt cradled in the curves of Curvature in New York City. But of their newest project, the Elemental Hotel, I was skeptical. I always thought a hotel stay had to include knockoff Picassos for wall art, a big-screen TV and a fully stocked minibar. What was this hotel room without walls — or even a key?
But as soon as I felt the grass underneath my feet and breathed in the fresh air of backwoods New Jersey, I was smitten. Wass&Lass have made the natural world their hotel room. There’s nothing but the essentials here: a bed, end table and a lamp (for aesthetic purposes only). So bold, so visionary are these designers that they even did away with the bathroom.
I arrived at Elemental just in time to toast the sunset with a glass of the lukewarm chardonnay I had brought (screwtop, which was lucky, because there was no corkscrew). When the darkness settled in, however, the air turned chill and the quiet became deafening. Where were the car horns, the buzz of planes? I picked up the guitar and strummed some chords in hopes I could scare away my nerves (and the sure-to-be-appearing critters). But then I remembered I don’t know how to play the guitar. When a wayward bat flew directly overhead and a chorus of howls sounded from the woods, I began to question this. Was I to become a late-night dinner in this wildest of places?
But it was at that moment I realized: This is the true genius of Wass&Lass. With their latest design, they’ve challenged the comfort of the traditional hotel stay. As I slapped at the air for bugs both real and imagined, shrieking in fear, I came to the profound realization that uncomfortable is the new way to stay.
Bravo, Wass&Lass, for once again putting forth a truly modern design that defies the very archetypes of the travel world. The tick bites will heal, but not my admiration for this breakthrough hotel.