A floating artist’s studio and home that’s built to be closer to nature, Floating Island essentially presents a string of experiences that one rarely finds in Berlin. It’s tucked away in a quiet part of the Spree, on the east side of Berlin, offering the ultimate escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. We fell in love with this home as soon as we set foot on the deck – it’s a one-of-a-kind home that never ceases to fascinate. Artistic with an authentic community feel (there are other boats nearby), the peacefulness that comes with being so close to nature brings new energy and the ultimate space for relaxation. The houseboat consists of two parts – the living space with everything you need for a comfortable stay, as well as an attached deck with a herb garden, BBQ, and sound system, as well as outdoor space for kicking back and enjoying the waterside views.
The host, Claudius, is incredibly warm and friendly when we meet him. He’s the kind of person who lights up the whole room and inspires you with his many, many artistic visions. The houseboat has been a part of his travels around the world – and to this day, it also serves as his studio (he’s a photographer).
We’re not going to lie, it is small, but it’s also incredibly well-designed, and every detail has been thought of. There’s a fully equipped kitchen (Claudius also provides fridge refills), and a platform bed with a skylight so you can gaze at the stars as you fall asleep. There’s also a book collection extraordinaire with plenty of books on creative subjects, and a portable router so you don’t have to be completely offline during your stay.
Claudius actually built the boat himself. Much of it is made using salvaged materials – one of the panels is 200 years old and used to be part of a school building. The furniture is also handcrafted, and he’s especially proud of the wooden dining table that sits in the centre of the living area. He’s constantly working on improving it and has an abundance of ideas – a sauna is in the works for this autumn.
According to Claudius, there’s no season that’s better than the others. He speaks of the beauty of the bay when it rains, but he also loves the sunny days that summer brings. It is warm in winter (the boat has good heating), so you can even experience frosty mornings on the Spree. It’s anchored mid-lake in the summertime, meaning that you have to take a boat to get to the boat. In the winter months, the location changes as it’s moored by the shore somewhere in the outskirts of Friedrichshain. A far cry from the stereotypical party boar, it’s a place where you can come to experience serenity and connect with nature. Many local Berliners have discovered the houseboat too, and it has become a popular weekend retreat for people looking to escape the metropolis. Wellbeing and wellness are at the heart of the home – Claudius is even able to arrange for yoga, meditation and personal fitness classes on the deck.If you want to escape the boat to experience the nearby area, there are two ways to get to shore – a canoe-style rowing boat and a motorboat for heavy luggage – both of which are free to use during your stay. There are also bicycles for when you’re on dry land, and Claudius has a list of recommendations for things to do in the area, his favourite places being Gode Wind and the Hafekuche. It’s worth noting that Floating Island isn’t a luxurious escape. It comes with a dry compost toilet, and the sink is shared between the bathroom and kitchen, but if you’re interested in sustainable living and experiencing the alternative side of Berlin, you have found the right place. Claudius loves sharing his home with environmentally-conscious guests – and it’s very important to him that you only use the organic toiletries and washing up liquid that he provides.