Had enough of Brandenburg’s Gasthöfe with their post-GDR charm? A startup offers a new solution for those who can afford it: rural glamper cabins.
There is much for city-dweller to love about Brandenburg: the forests and lakes, the fresh air, the produce. Unfortunately for visiting Berliners, however, the local hospitality business does not always live up to capital tastes. In many corners of the state, dusty old Gaststätten and hotels still in the throes of post-reunification Tristesse remain dominant, leaving Berlin’s nature-seekers frustrated.
One new hospitality startup, Raus, is trying to meet the demand of those who love escaping to Brandenburg – but want to do so with taste. Since October 2021, Raus has gained plenty of buzz by advertising a series of trendy, full-service “sustainability-first” cabins scattered throughout the countryside outside Berlin (and elsewhere in northern Germany). The value proposition is simple: urban convenience in a scenic rural setting. But are they really worth the cost – starting at around €150 a night? We set out to put the promise to the test.
Choosing and reserving a cabin takes place over the Raus website. Their cabins are dotted throughout the northern German countryside, mostly between one and two hours’ drive from Berlin. The exact coordinates are kept under wraps until after booking, so you cannot check out the locations in advance. Still, the descriptions posted online give hints towards what one might expect upon arrival: local cafés, apple orchards, grazing sheep, nearby ponds. Cabins can also be vetted based on factors like remoteness, amenities or accessibility from public transport.
The dry-composting toilet requires its own manual and appears somewhat alarming at first
The cabins are designed for looking out of, as their names tend to imply. ‘Lindenblick’ includes a skylight for stargazing, and an in-person visit confirmed that Feldblick does indeed offer field views, with gentle grazing cows and a wood-fired sauna nearby. Other cabins offer unique scenic features. Cabin ‘Schlossgarten’, with its wraparound windows, stands in a castle park; ‘Waldlichtung’ is near multiple lakes and includes a private sauna. Several of the cabins are clustered together for those who want to travel in groups, while others are located in secluded natural areas or by walking trails.
Pampered in the pampa
And what about the look? For the market that Raus is out to capture – choosy urbanites in search of comfortable Öko-escapism – aesthetics is of the utmost importance. Here, the influence of contemporary design is unmistakeable. Raus’ cabins – all caravan-sized and mostly made for two people – are a mix of pale wood and black accents; they stand out against the landscape, but not too loudly. The interior flows from the bed at one end to a built-in bench and eating nook to the kitchen, with a small separate bathroom on the other. There is push-open cabinetry, soft lighting and carefully angled spaces that maximise the available space.
In style, they eschew the Ost-dilapidation of Brandenburg’s older guesthouses for the familiar look of an English-speaking Kreuzberg café: hip, pleasingly neutral and Instagram-friendly. They tend to be trendily minimalist, offering a mishmash of “van life”-style vistas with Scandi-chic interiors and a modern homesteading ambience. Simple handcrafted ceramics in muted tones are sourced from the Good Clay Sunshine ceramics studio in Berlin, while fluffy white bedding and a perpetual campfire smell from the small wood-burning stove contribute to a farmhouse feeling.
The highlight, though, are the floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over golden fields of wheat, towering evergreen trees, wildflowers in bloom and occasionally deer. Watching a foggy sunrise while drinking coffee in bed feels like a vindication of Raus’ concept, giving the sensation of being outside on a crisp morning while also snuggled up against the cold.
According to Raus’ founders, sustainable design was a key element of their vision. All the wooden houses are built on trailers in order to avoid damaging the soil; they also have wheels that allow them to be moved if required for the planting season. Solar panels generate electricity, water comes from tanks below and many cabins are heated by wood stove only. Visitors are encouraged to participate by keeping an eye on the water meter and refraining from the use of energy-sapping devices.
Generally, Raus succeeds at upholding its promise to combine eco-immersion with urban comfort. Those accustomed to modern convenience and comfort still get to charge their laptop and phone, shower with hot water and keep their groceries cool in the fridge. Wood briquettes are provided for easy fire-making. Yet small-scale sustainable living still comes with drawbacks.
Hip, pleasingly neutral and Instagram-friendly. They tend to be trendily minimalist
The dry-composting toilet, which turns human waste into farming fuel, requires its own manual and appears somewhat alarming at first (faecal matter leaves through a kind of trap door). The kitchen space is tight: a mini-fridge, two heating hobs and a few basic cooking essentials – wooden spoons, whisks, colander – must suffice for a whole weekend. At ‘Feldblick’, there was frustratingly no wine opener but instead an abundance of different coffee-making apparatuses.
Anyone travelling to a Raus cabin should pack their own food and spices, although there is also the option to order meals, drinks and snacks from local producers. Sometimes these local producers even own the land where the cabin stands, as Raus partners with agricultural businesses to find new locations. Whether this is appealing or not will be – like much else here – a matter of taste. Either way, you’d probably take it over lukewarm Gasthof goulash – if it’s within your budget.