Tourists Pay To Hunker Down In East German Bunker

bunker sign
Martin Abegglen, Flickr

Sleeping in rickety old beds, eating bland food that you’re forced to cook yourself and being bossed around by hotel staff hardly sounds like a fun travel experience, but tourists in Germany are paying $150 a night for exactly that.

It’s all a part of a unique experience that gives travelers the chance to experience life as it was for soldiers in East Germany. Visitors are taken to a forest 200 miles outside of Berlin where they spend the night in the Bunker Museum, which as the name implies, is a former military bunker. The bunker was built more than 40 years ago for use by the German secret police, and was designed to become a military command center if the local area was ever attacked.Today, tourists can experience life in the bunker, which includes donning the soldier’s uniforms before peeling potatoes and cooking sausages for dinner. But don’t expect a good night’s sleep here-the bunk beds are small and uncomfortable with thin mattresses and, naturally, you’re expected to make the bed yourself.

Those who run the hotel say the experience has proven extremely popular among travelers, and quite a few of those who visit are actually former East German residents themselves.

Sleep better in hotels with these 10 tips

Trying to sleep when you travel is a challenge – sure, some people may be born with the ability to sleep anywhere, but others (myself included) need a little more comfort to grab a good night’s sleep. In this list, you’ll find ten tried and tested tips for getting a better nights sleep in a hotel room.

Best of all – most of these tips don’t involve spending (too) much. So, check out these ten tips, and with a bit of luck, your next hotel stay will be a more relaxing experience!
Get rid of distractions

You don’t have to be insane to lose sleep over little things like noises or blinking lights – anything that is out of the ordinary can become a major distraction.

My personal pet peeve is poorly closing drapes – so I travel with a drape clip (a chip clip also works fine). Before I go to bed, I’ll close the drapes, and clip them shut so I don’t get an early wake up call from the sun coming through any gaps. Call me crazy, but I prefer that extra hour of sleep in the morning.

Fan / Air Conditioning for white noise

This is a personal favorite of mine – and one I don’t mind sharing! If you need a little white noise to fall asleep, set the “fan” switch on the thermostat to “on” instead of auto. This way the fan will provide background/white noise all night long – and it won’t sound as loud when the heat/ac turns on in the middle of the night.

Pick a hotel with a better mattress

Hotels know when they have a good mattress – and they’ll market the heck out of it. Everyone knows the Westin has Heavenly Beds, and that Hyatt offers the “Grand Bed”. This kind of marketing isn’t just for show – a good hotel bed is worth a fortune. If a good night’s sleep means a lot to you, find a hotel that has upgraded its beds – the extra couple of bucks will be well worth it.

Your own alarm clock

This one really only benefits you in the morning – but if you’ve ever been woken in the middle of the night by the hotel alarm clock, you’ll appreciate staying in control of your own wake-up time.

Any time I arrive in a hotel room, the first thing I do is check the alarm clock, and turn off any previously set times. With your own alarm clock, you don’t have to worry about learning how to set it, and you won’t have to worry about missing your wake-up call if you set it incorrectly. My personal favorite is the Moshi voice controlled alarm clock – I can set the alarm on this thing using spoken commands. Added bonus – it has soothing alarm sounds instead of the horrible buzzers on most cheap hotel clocks.

Stick to your usual schedule

Just because you are “on the road” does not mean you need to stay up later than usual. If you have a routine at home, use it on the road as well. The closer things feel to your usual routine, the easier it’ll be to fall asleep. Do you watch the Daily Show before sleepy time? Do it in your hotel room. If you can’t sleep without a nice cup of tea, call room service and splurge on that $8 cup of tea – anything that helps you fall asleep is worth a couple of bucks.

Create the perfect climate

A really good bed and comfortable linens won’t help you sleep well if the room is as dry as the Sahara. If you suffer from low humidity in the room, you could invest in a travel humidifier (about $50), or you could be creative and place some damp towels around the room in the hope that they help. Running a hot shower with the door open right before sleeping can also help.

Traveling by road? Bring your own pillow and blankets

If you are traveling by road (or just have plenty of open room in your luggage), you could consider bringing your own pillow and/or blankets. I’ve done this when I’m traveling to a hotel I know suffers from poor pillows. It may add a couple more pounds to my baggage, but I’ll gladly take that if it means a great night’s sleep.

Pick the right room

A quiet room starts when you check in. Ask for a room at the end of a hallway, away from elevators and on a high floor. Front desk staff usually know their own room layout quite well, and a smile along with a polite request will often get the best tips on a quiet room.

Improve the bed through housekeeping

Dislike the pillows? Prefer some more sheets? This is exactly why hotel phones have a housekeeping button. Unless your request is for a second mattress or someone to sing a lullaby, the housekeeping department will usually be able to help with most requests. A call for a synthetic pillow, or a few more down pillows won’t be a problem, and can usually be arranged any time of day.

White noise generator

Do you travel with a smartphone? Check for mobile versions of white noise/sleep noise generators. On my Android powered phone, I use “Sleepy Time”, an app with almost 100 different noises. I can set a sleep timer, turn the noise on, and drift off to a babbling brook, washing machine or even city noises. The apps are usually priced around $3.

Of course, you can still pop into your local Brookstone and pick up one of their popular devices – but why invest more when you can turn your phone into what you need.



Need help getting some sleep on a plane?

Check out these tips from airplane sleep expert Mike Barish!

Another high-end Atlantic airliner

We’ve already written about two high-profile and high-end airlines, Silverjet and EOS, that promise spacious seats (that morph into beds) and an end to those coach class ghettos.

It seems the big boys want a piece of the pie. Starting in June, British Airways will start running flights from New York to various European cities under the subsidiary “OpenSkies,” their new premium-level airline. Here’s the run-down on the cabin configuration, using a Boeing 757. There will be 24 flat-bed seats, 28 “premium-economy” seats with 52 inches of legroom, and curiously, 30 coach seats.

It seems the coach seats, which were controversial, were added to entice stingier customers to upgrade (the theory goes they won’t be able to say no once they see the reclining beds).

The verdict is still out on premium flights like these. Virgin Atlantic has been running them for quite a while, and it’s catching on, though not like wildfire. Either way, I’d love to land a seat on one of these flights. Anyone have a spare ticket :-)?

Bed Jumping: Sounds Dirty … But Isn’t

Though Bed Jumping sounds like something your friend’s ooky parents did after their infamous Key Parties, it’s actually something different altogether. In this extreme(-ish) sport, participants check into their hotel rooms and then, well, jump on the bed. The only rule is that you must photograph yourself BJ’ing and then upload it to Hotels By City’s Flickr photostream. The “best” shots then get uploaded to HBC’s site.

Bed Jumping can be done individually, as a group, while doing other activities or while wearing masks. You even get extra points for face plants. Happily, this equal-opportunity activity even allows for this poor man to participate, despite his obvious physical deformity. (Ouch … that’s gonna hurt.)
bed jumping
If all this bed jumping is a little too juvenile for you, you can always check out HBC’s user-submitted shots of various hotel pools. It’s cool, too, though not as offbeat.

Odd Travel Job: Sleep Director

Sheraton Hotel BedQuestion: What is the correct job title for a traveling man or woman that gets to romp around in bed all day and test hotel mattresses?

If your answer was a “Prostitute” then your mind needs cleansing and we will go no further with such raunchy talk in the workplace, even if they fit the bill. However, if you said “Sleep Director” then you probably heard the alarms sound because that is the correct answer, my friends. Sleep Directors have the fabulous and odd job of testing out all those cozy hotel beds before you do. According to Ted’s List, which includes three odd jobs this month, most hotel chains employ “Sleep Directors” or people who can tell if a mattress is too firm or too soft, and whether the design of the hotel room will keep you from dozing into dream worlds.

Now this bit of trivia was something I read over a week ago and it bothered me a little on the inside. I mean, it bothered me to the point of trying to find out more about this unusual gig. Do I personally wish to become a Sleep Director? Yawn, not quite. I’m just curious to know the qualifications. In my searches I was only able to find this job ad for a Mattress Tester. The employer seeking Mattress Tester 44 notes that their benefits package is quite competitive and that salary is determined by sleep experience. Additionally they are an Equal Opportunity Employer, but Federal law prohibits employment of extraterrestrials.

The madness!!! Is this for real? If there are any real Mattress Testers or Sleep Directors out there I beg you to leave a comment. Heck, if there are any extraterrestrials out there in the blogosphere make your presence known as well.

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