PICTURE GALLERY: Holt Hall woodland is transformed into eccentric dream-land for Norfolk and Norwich Festival
06:30 16 May 2012
© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2012
A quirky mythical world has sprung up in the north Norfolk countryside offering visitors a unique overnight stay in a land of dreams.
Fantastical tree-top dwellings such as a giant bird’s nest and a huge red lotus flower can currently be spotted in a woodland in Holt, and for the next few weeks people are being invited to spend a night in them in exchange for sharing their dreams.
This is AirHotel, an utterly unique performance-cum-bed-and-breakfast from Belgium which plays on the relationship between dream and reality, and which is making its UK premiere in the grounds of Holt Hall for the Norfolk and Norwich Festival.
It is the brainchild of performance art collective Time Circus, which takes its imaginative installations across Europe, and which has chosen Norfolk as the first place outside of Belgium to host AirHotel.
“Time Circus likes to build theatrical constructions in order to make performances that are really interactive and evoke all of the senses. AirHotel is just one of the ideas within that bigger concept,” said performer Gideon Hakker.
“It is a bit of back-to-nature for one night, enjoying the sounds, enjoying the smells of nature and having a bit of an unusual outdoor adventure.”
From the moment visitors embark on their AirHotel experience there is certainly nothing ordinary about their stay.
Greeted by friendly trio Starlet, Lotus and Hummus, they are taken on a meditative walk in the woods and whisked into a world where dreaming and imagination is all-important and the stresses, strains and excess baggage of everyday life are stripped away.
A tour of the seven bizarre woodland abodes reveals the craziest of countryside residences, each with its own ingenious theme.
El Ambassador is an extremely chic-looking VIP pod that appears to levitate in the trees and offers stunning views of the woodland through its glass ceiling.
The Sterreschijter tree house, being seven metres above the ground, reaches for the stars and includes a telescope for people to marvel at the night sky.
Meanwhile the Raindrop can be raised or lowered at will.
The Lotus, a beautiful giant version of the tropical flower, opens up to reveal four hammock-style beds accessed through a skylight at the top of the bloom, while the seemingly minute Night Box is a real pop-up surprise.
Little Cottage is actually the biggest abode at the AirHotel, while the Lovenest, as its name suggests, is a huge bird’s nest with the addition of an umbrella on top to keep out the rain.
The madness does not stop with the zany sky-high accommodation – before the night is out guests meet a fourth character, Harry-Harry, who ushers them into the heat of the Big Fat Hot Madre sauna to sweat out their stresses, and just before bedtime the AirHotel hosts observe a candlelit ritual to wish their guests sweet dreams.
Room service offers yet another surreal surprise with everything from a music box to a disco party to a box of philosophy on offer – and as “payment” guests are politely requested to share their night’s dreams in a journal kept in each pod.
Gideon said: “It is about giving people a chance to forget everything, to leave everything behind and for one night have a really relaxing night with a lot of dreams.
“The characters are the masters of dreams, and their story is that they are looking for dreams for the Gents professors, scientists who value the emotions of people on a subconscious level and study people’s dreams.”