25hours has moulded itself into Germany's top design hotel chain, and has now spread its wings to Vienna and Zurich. They already have one hotel in Zurich West, a hipster post-industrial area full of bars and clubs. So a second Zurich hotel is no surprise – and the Langstrasse branch, which opened in April 2017, doesn't disappoint. This is a hotel where you even get a free night by taking in a trinket that they can display alongside all their other nick nacks - simply go to the website, upload a photo of whatever you want to barter (furniture, technology, art or something vintage) and see what they say. As of now, it's only happened once, so you might be in with a chance.
The hotel lobby is filled with all kinds of stuff, from old furniture and electronics to antiques and even soft porn postcards from days gone by. There are neon lights that flash away and weird sculptural centrepieces like a pile of iconic Swiss Freitag messenger bags attached to ropes which you can move up and down using levers and pulleys. It's a case of more is more and it's all flamboyant fun. It makes the place look a little like a charity shop or a cool vintage boutique – not least because there's a shop in the lobby which sells some of this stuff too.
Zurich's old red light district is being transformed and this hotel is a part of that. It's right by the main train station – you can walk from platform to lobby in 10 minutes – use the side entrance marked 'Europa-allee'). The hotel actually backs onto the tracks, and trainspotters will love watching the spotless Swiss trains arrive like clockwork. On the roof is the 'Trainspotters' spa' – a gym, sauna and rooftop terrace where the trains below are the stars of the show.
Outside the hotel are the new bars and restaurants that have transformed the area. Keeping the travel theme alive, the Hitl Sihlpost bar features its changing drinks menu on a ticker board like you get at an airport or station. It's interesting to be in such a dynamic area – if you thought Zurich was all staid restaurants and investment bank offices, a stroll through this neighbourhood after dark will completely change your view of the city – and not in the way it once would have.
25hours is carving out a niche as a party stop, too. Its bar was heaving on the Saturday night we visited, as was the Neni restaurant, which serves delicious Middle Eastern fare. Our Neni kebab (beef and lamb kofte served with chilli, vegetables and homemade bread) was a spicy delight and they also serve delicious homemade labneh and olives as a free appetiser, with a cotton bag of bread. The theme continues at breakfast with lots more Middle Eastern treats like hummus and peppers alongside more traditional sausages and Swiss cheeses.
Upstairs rooms remind you of staying over at every girl's house you dated as a student. True to the 25hours brand, they're themed; unlike its siblings, there are three themes (red light district, belle epoque, 'big city') on display. The palette is garish citrus, and there's vintage kitsch like 1970s toys, golf caps with tinted visors, colouring books and coloured pencils. Big, comfy beds will send you to sleep, the shower is located in one of those fish tank cubes that hotels love these days, and there’s a free condom with every room. As with other 25hours hotels, there’s also a neat spiral-bound Do Not Disturb sign collection which allows you to choose a witty reason for housekeeping not to come in. You'll be very happy here – it's a fun kind of place, especially suited to youthful urban trippers who are increasingly venturing to Zurich in the knowledge that it goes beyond the stereotypes.
Langstrasse 150, Zürich, Switzerland
00 41 44 576 50 00; 25hours-hotels.com
Doubles from £175 excluding breakfast
Access: all level, larger rooms for wheelchair access