When Vienna House Andel’s Berlin celebrates a decade in business next year, Thomas Hiller will be one of the longest-serving members of the staff.
Not only has the 54-year-old florist – or better: floral stylist – been with the team almost from the beginning, he is also one of the most influential persons when it comes to good taste in a hotel whose key message consists, among other things, of style and design.
“Tommy Tulip”, as his colleagues call him, is not only responsible for the floral design of the 22 suites and showrooms in the 557-room hotel. He is also in charge of the décor of the 1,200 m² foyer, the public areas in front of the meeting rooms, the business lounge and the SpaSphere as well as the Skybar, the award-winning Skykitchen restaurant, the California-style restaurant Mavericks and the breakfast restaurant delight.
Building on the existing interior design, Hiller gives the facilities a decorative finish with plants and other accessories. A floor vase here, a couple of supersized ornamental apples there, the matching cushions for the extravagant sofa, a copper champagne cooler as a contrast to the cement floor – Hiller’s creativity knows no bounds. “Nobody tells me what to do,” says the native of Heidelberg. “My constraints are dictated by the hotel and by the room itself, limited, of course, by what is available on the market.”
Hiller, who originally trained to become a retail salesman, keeps his treasures in a 200 m² storage facility. Vases, lamps, ceramic objects, baskets, candles. Especially the Christmas decorations take up a lot of space. Four trees up to 5 metres tall have to be decorated every year in the lobby alone. Fresh goods such as room plants and cut flowers, native as well as exotic, are ready for use in a glass-enclosed workshop that looks much like a well-sorted florist’s shop. “I often come across the stray guest who wants to buy flowers from me,” Thomas Hiller says. “It just looks so inviting.”
STAY | Vienna House Andel’s Berlin
But he doesn’t run a shop (yet). Though the hotel’s flower man does produce special arrangements for special guests. On request, he will decorate meeting suites and large event rooms according to the customer’s wishes and needs. That could be weddings or other celebrations as well as meetings, conferences and product presentations. Movie crews also benefit from his taste when specific bouquets or floral arrangements are needed for film shootings in the hotel.
Hiller, who came to Berlin in 2001 for love and has worked in places like Villa Harteneck and Grand Hyatt Berlin, always decides on the basis of his intuition. He likes “everything from daisies to orchids” and has always remained true to one flower in particular. “Anthuriums are dependable flowers, they don’t dirty up the water and always look fresh as new. You either love them or hate them!” His favourite colour is rainbow. His philosophy: space is the greatest luxury. “We are so lucky at this hotel that we don’t have to fill every available space with decoration.” Told that his French counterpart at the Four Seasons Hotel George V in Paris has a yearly budget of 1.5 million euros just for flowers, Hiller admits to being slightly envious, but says that his own budget is more than enough. “That has nothing to do with floral styling anymore. That’s overkill.”