A Hotel Room for the Price of a Song?

This hotel has a gym, a spa and a private movie theater. There is even original art on the walls. The description indicates luxury accommodation, a five-star resort at the very least. But the cost to stay here is bargain basement: €3, €10 or €15 a night. And this hotel is certainly more adventurous than your average five-star palace: Because, if they wish to, guests can choose to pay for their stay by holding a reading, concert or dance.

The director of this Stuttgart hotel is Byung Chul Kim, who originally hails from Korea. He looks young: His sneakers, jeans and hoodie don't quite match the gray hair, or his 36 years. And the Korean artist has already caused an uproar in Stuttgart: He once lived in the shop window of a pet store for a week, offering himself as a house pet to anyone willing to pay €1,200. "It would have been a good investment," says German video and performance artist Christian Jarnowski, whose work has previously featured at the Venice Biennale and who tutors Kim at a Stuttgart art school. "We will be hearing from him."

Kim studied Western painting in Seoul and has been enrolled at the Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design, one of the biggest art schools in Germany, since 2005. Kim is a conceptual artist but he is also a hotel manager. And as such, he runs a "performance hotel" that is, if not the first of its kind, then certainly the only one in Germany. The deal is: Whoever puts on a performance may spend the night for free.

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Charming and Inventive Décor

Kim has turned one of the rooms into a gym with an old bike that he has converted into a stationery exercycle. In the pink bathroom, visitors will find a television opposite the toilet. It shows a looped video of local sculptor Kestutis Svirnelis, sitting, pushing and sweating. "It helps," Kim notes.

The art work hanging over the toilet is even more direct. It is a mirror with a pair of scissors stuck to it, an indirect threat to those masculine patrons who don't follow standard procedure in Germany and take a seat to urinate. In the backyard there is a bathtub, sitting atop a pile of rubbish. The garden hose can be used to fill the tub up, and the water can then be warmed by setting a fire underneath the bathtub. But this location -- which doubles as a private cinema -- only becomes truly romantic at night, when films are projected onto the white exterior wall of the neighboring house.

The rest of the décor is equally charming. The curtains are pink, neon yellow and camouflage print, beer bottles make for quaint candleholders and the wallpaper has been hand printed with animal patterns. There are only two bedrooms, one with a couch and the other with colorful mattresses -- no bed frames and plenty of room for sleeping bags and camping mats in between. In this hotel, the customer is not always king. Here the customer is an artist.

Lofty Thoughts, Wild Dances and Sculptural Performances

The hotel is located in East Stuttgart, in a more old fashioned and provincial part of the city -- the sort of place one might see two old ladies tottering around, umbrellas up, as though they were in silent, black and white film. Or another man polishing the bumper on his Mercedes with kitchen towels. This is not the sort of area in which you expect to find such an unusual hotel.

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