Tel: 49 30 284 480
Each of the 50 rooms in this 1825 former neoclassical palace near the Reichstag is the creation of a different artist. Many are young Germans who were given carte blanche to decorate their rooms however they felt inspired to. One covered her walls and ceiling in carpet; another furnished his room with a surreally oversized bed; and still another turned his into a full-room tribute to Edward Hopper, with wall-mural reproductions of the famous painter's works. But compared with the similarly themed Propeller Island City Lodge, the Luise is more polished and less gimmicky—a bed (even when hanging from cables) always remains a bed. The hotel is, no surprise, very popular with art-world types, and if you ask nicely, the staff may give you a tour and let you peek into unoccupied rooms. This is a stylish place, yet it has something to offer even the most cost-conscious traveler: The cheapest accommodations are plain rooms on the top floor with a shared bath.
14 Eislebener Strasse
Tel: 49 30 214 050
The perfect place for those who enjoy both classic and modern elegance. The exterior of this late-19th-century mansion, on a quiet street close to Charlottenburg's boulevards, is old-world stately. Equally grand is the scale of the 58 guest rooms (which have nearly 13-foot ceilings) and the 14 suites (which, at 700 square feet apiece, are bigger than most Manhattan apartments). But the decor, chosen with eclectic flair by owner Daniela Sauter, leans surprisingly toward modern minimalism, with Missoni rugs, Bauhaus furnishings by Le Corbusier and Breuer, and bold primary colors accented with Marimekko-style prints. Common spaces include a Japanese courtyard garden set beyond the lobby's Corinthian columns, a glass-walled bar and lounge that hosts live jazz performances every Thursday night, and a small Michelin-starred restaurant, Die Quadriga, where chef Bobby Bräuer serves up inventive French cuisine. The hotel prides itself on personalized service, but things get really over-the-top at the Thaleia spa, where Thalgo mud packs and Balinese massage are given to only one clientyes, oneat a time.
Tel: 49 30 2000 3410
The 51-room Casa Camper sits just off one of Mitte's busiest café-society corners in a modern block, crowning a neighborhood that's approaching its saturation point in terms of new restaurants and hotels. The design cues here are both bold and subtle: Blood-red walls dominate, but they're set off by matte wood tones. The architecture is mainly open and flowing, allowing the big windows to flood the rooms with light, while furnishings feel like new versions of flea-market finds—wool-upholstered chaise longues and old-fashioned Bakelite telephones on cute little end tables. Perhaps most interesting for its youth-oriented client base is the Tentemplé snack bar on the top floor, with views of Mitte and free food and drinks round the clock. You can rent retro-cool black City Bikes from the front desk—just the way to see Berlin while working off all those free late-night calories.—Ralph Martin
Tel: 49 30 203 750
In contrast to the grand lobbies of the other five- and four-star hotels bordering historic Gendarmenmarkt, the reception area of the comparatively small 92-room Dorint has a quiet, monastic feeling. The building used to be an excellent example of what locals like to call "Plattenbau" (that functional but none too charming Communist architectural style). But after a chic makeover in 1999 by Germany's premier hotel interior designers, Klein and Haller of k/h, no one would ever guess. The stylish property now has a calming gray and taupe color scheme with flashes of black-tinted glass and marble; each room benefits from a few individual touches of whimsy, including strings in the bedside tables connected to a music box—pull and listen to a lullaby that matches the church your room faces ("Alouette" for the French Cathedral, "Lili Marlene" for the German one). On the seventh floor, a small wellness area with Finnish and steam saunas is a haven of calm. In keeping with the setting, the designers added a few nods to the past, including a restaurant with mint-condition Art Deco interiors salvaged from the legendary Café Aigner in Vienna.
Tel: 49 30254 788255
Rooms with featherbeds and Tiergarten views combined with a location on tree-lined Unter den Linden make this 1988 L-shaped hotel "very relaxing and convenient." "The food is just fair," but Eck Restaurant is the place for German standards like schnitzel and potato pancakes; Harry's New York Bar shakes more than 200 classic cocktails. "Great services" includes electric-car charging stations.
Tel: 49 30 255 31234
The Potsdamer Platz neighborhood, where this hotel sits, is judged by some to be soulless and overly commercial, and by others to be a hot spot for architecture. The buildings here, which include the corporate headquarters of Sony, Deutsche Bahn, DaimlerChrysler, and Germany's largest casino, are certainly designed to within an inch of their lives. But if you like that sort of thing, the 342-room Grand Hyatt, designed by Pritzker Prize–winner José Rafael Moneo, has quite a wow factor. The dramatic modern lobby has inverted crystalline pyramids descending from the ceiling that cause light and shadow to constantly change the look of the space. Meanwhile, the calming, clean-lined rooms are fitted with dark wood, suede, and gray-blue marble. Throughout the hotel and in the two restaurants—Vox (with the city's largest open kitchen and a selection of more than 230 whiskeys) and Tizian (with a floating fireplace)—Art Deco furnishings and black-and-white Bauhaus-era photographs warm up what could otherwise be a cold modern interior. The best place to take in all the architectural wonders of Potsdamer Platz—and to decide whether or not you like it—is the Grand Hyatt's top-floor fitness center and spa, with an outdoor terrace, an indoor pool, Finnish and steam saunas, and treatment rooms.
Tel: 49 30 284 45577
The original Honigmond (located just down the street and still operating as a hotel) was popular with East German intellectuals and dissidents, who used to gather at its café. As Berlin's Mitte district saw a rather different set of visitors arrive along with the galleries and fashion ateliers, the owners of the Honigmond decided to open another, more upscale—but still affordable—hotel. The Garden Hotel is in a historic building, and the interior's wide-plank wooden floors, built-in window seats, and moldings have been painstakingly restored. Massive wooden wardrobes and iron-frame beds anchor the large, airy rooms with white walls and soaring ceilings. Prussian blue-and-yellow bedding is the singular bold statement. The overall effect is romantic and peaceful, particularly in the courtyard's lovely garden, which has a bubbling fountain, goldfish pond, and writers' retreat–like guest rooms bordering it. Be sure to book a garden-facing room; those overlooking the busy street are marred by the noise of shrieking traffic.
77 Unter den Linden
Tel: 30 2261 1111
Fax: 30 226 12222
Just steps from the Brandenburg Gate on the historic Pariser Platz is Berlin's original "Grand Hotel"indeed, the movie of that name, starring Greta Garbo, was filmed here. Though Garbo famously uttered the words "I want to be alone," other celebrity guests (including Charlie Chaplin, Albert Einstein, and Thomas Mann) flocked to the Adlon for an entirely different reason: to see and be seen in the grand lobby, a favorite gathering place of intellectuals and art-world glitterati during the hotel's heyday. The original turn-of-the-century building burned down in 1945, but it has since been lovingly rebuilt. The second-generation Adlon, opened in 1997, includes faithful reproductions of the stained-glass dome in the lobby and the coffered 14-karat-goldplated ceilings. The rooms and suites, meanwhile, are a retro-modern hybrid of Art Deco and Asian fusion. The Roman-style Adlon Spa occupies the basement, and a Michelin-starred restaurant dedicated to French haute cuisine, the Lorenz Adlon, is on the Bel Étage (the second floor). There is one recent development that is less welcome, however: With newer luxury properties opening in Berlin, the Adlon has expanded to 303 rooms and 81 suites in an effort to attract more conference business. The large and sometimes noisy crowds in the lobby and other public spaces tend to take away from the old-world glamour.
Tel: 49 30 884 740
A design hotel in a period 19th-century patrician building, the Bleibtreu (which means "stay true") was Berlin's pioneer boutique property when it opened in 1995 just steps from the Kurfürstendamm. The place has a Birkenstock heart; the 60 stylish rooms, as well as the common spaces, are decorated with environmentally friendly untreated woods and all-natural textiles, which infuse the property with a sense of Gemütlichkeit (coziness). Yet the aesthetic manages to feel Manolo Blahnik sleek, with custom-made modern furniture and bold color schemes of blue, red, and yellowcomplemented by the sculptures and paintings of Berlin-based artists. The reception area is unobtrusively tucked away off a tree-shaded courtyarda swell spot for an alfresco drink. There's also a florist shop, a restaurant that's earned accolades for its healthy menu, and a serene one-treatment-room spa.
Tel: 888 667 9477 (toll-free)
Tel: 49 30 460 6090
Like Berlin itself, the Hotel de Rome deftly balances history with the here and now. It occupies the former Dresdner Bank building in Mitte, overlooking stately Bebelplatz, where the Nazis burned books and where Berlin's fashion week is now held each July. The 1889 neoclassical building retains some remarkable architectural features, from the mosaic terrazzo floors in the corridors (covered with linoleum by the Communists) and the shrapnel-pocked wood paneling in the Renaissance Suite (one of four suites carved out of old directors' offices) to the indoor pool housed in the former vault and the splendid glass-ceilinged Opera Court. The interior design—by Tommaso Ziffer, who also did the Hotel de Russie in Rome, a sister hotel in the Rocco Forte Collection—is bold and contemporary, if ultimately less interesting than the historical elements. The 146 rooms come in one of three color schemes (red, blue, and beige) and are large and thoughtfully laid out, with an upholstered headboard, large desk, sofa, and plenty of lighting. Bathrooms are also spacious, with separate tubs and shower stalls, heated floors, and a mosaic tile design. We love the historic rooms on the first, second and third floors because of their high ceilings, although upper floors have balconies, a plus in the summer. Downstairs, you'll find a spa, an Italian restaurant, and the elegant Bebel Bar; upstairs, a roof terrace. It's all crisply stylish—luxurious but not too lush. The service is similarly friendly and efficient (perhaps to a fault; order a glass of Grüner at the bar and you might be corrected: "Grüner veltliner, sir?"). What puts the Hotel de Rome over the top for us, making it one of our favorite hotels in Berlin, is the location: adjacent to Unter den Linden and a few blocks from the Brandenburg Gate, the Museumsinsel, and Gendarmenmarkt (and its U-Bahn stop). It's an ideal location, whether you're here for the shops, the sights, the nightlife, or all three.—Peter J. Frank
Tel: 49 30 882 7193
Two decades before Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich made androgyny famous, Danish silent-film star Asta Nielson paved the way. This pension, in her former apartment on Fasanenstrasse, one of western Berlin's most posh addresses, is good value, especially given the location. For a ridiculously affordable rate, hotel guests can count Gucci and Bulgari shops among their stylish neighbors. What's more, the Literature House, which has a lovely café in the winter garden, is just across the street. The pension is done up in the spirit of the Roaring Twentiesas it might have been during Nielson's timeand many of the original Art Nouveau and Jugendstil fixtures have been maintained. At these prices, though, it's only to be expected that the rooms tend toward shabby chic, and not all have private bathrooms. All the same, the Funk oozes atmosphere and charm.
Tel: 49 30 810 0660
The ultrastylish, ultramod Q! was designed to the nth degree by Berlin-based Graft Architects, a group of three young men who first shot to fame with their designs for Brad Pitt's studio and guesthouse in Los Angeles. For this project, they did away with as many right angles as possible, creating striking, cocoonlike public spaces and guest rooms. The otherwise unremarkable exterior of the hotel has no sign (a common ploy in the world of hip), prompting all who enter to feel like real cognoscenti. The tunnellike entrance and small reception area open into a bold, curvaceous bar and lounge where the red linoleum climbs the walls and ceilings in a single, continuously flowing surface. Saarinen-like womb chairs punctuate the space. In the 77 guest rooms, where the color palette shifts to white and smoky gray, there's an unusual "hybrid space" open-plan design, with the floor curving up into the bed, which curves up into the bathtub, which curves back down into a bath/wet area. A Japanese-inspired spa-sauna in the basement has a relaxation lounge with real sand. At night, the lounge turns into an exclusive, members-only bar, but hotel guests are welcome—provided they like a glam-o-rama scene with a hint of snobbery.
Tel: 49 30 520 05550
The 170-room Ku'Damm 101, located (as the name suggests) on western Berlin's main shopping drag, the Kurfürstendamm, takes the pure, clean-lined minimalism and cool color palette of Le Corbusier as its inspiration. The lobby's low, backless curved benches and softly glowing illuminated columns suggest a dance club, and DJs do occasionally spin here. The rooms are a sea of harmonious colors (gray, black, and mint green), with a select assortment of mid-century modern design classics, including Saarinen chairs. The black rubber flooring and Paris Métro look-alike tiling in the bathrooms, though, can feel a bit too institutional. The seventh-floor breakfast room has an especially impressive view down the Ku'Damm (particularly in the spring and summer, when the long boulevard is flanked by leafy trees), and the basement has a small spa with an aromatic steam bath and rooms for homeopathic massages and treatments.
913 Rosa Luxemburg Strasse
Tel: 49 30 936 2800
At the latest design hotel to enter Berlin's increasingly competitive market, the interiors were styled by the Italian-born husband and wife team of Claudio Silvestrin and Giuliana Salmaso, a duo many consider to be the high priest and priestess of contemporary minimalism. The result is a balanced, harmonious space that's bold but still playful enough to appeal to a young, hip clientele (many who come for the nightlife around Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz). The 72 nearly identical rooms have an open plan bath/wet area and are finished in concrete; the look is softened by textured beige fabrics and honey-colored woods. The total effect is elegant but not ostentatious. An Aveda Spa and an AsianEuro fusion restaurant pick up on the Zen vibe, while a 2,700-square-foot designer boutique run by Ulf Haines, formerly of the exclusive Berlin department store Quartier 206, is a great place to indulge in retail therapy.
39 Warschauer Strasse
Tel: 49 30 297 78590
The Michelberger aims to combine two of Berlin's cultural drivers (high design and nightlife on the cheap) into one budget hotel. Architect Werner Aisslinger was commissioned to maximize space efficiency in each of the 119 rooms in order to allow guests to bunk up in groups of two, four, or more (the largest room sleeps eight). Loft beds take advantage of unused headroom, and the flexibly arranged spaces are done in inexpensive but attractive materials: matte woods, rope ladders to connect the rooms' different levels, poured concrete floors. It all feels creative (rather than cheap), and the whole place has a buzzing, interconnected vibe, due largely to the bar and a basement rock and dance club. (The club opened first and became a Saturday-night staple before the hotel was even completed.) Across the street is the Warschauer Strasse subway station and tram stop—the terminus of the M10, a.k.a. the "party train" that connects many of Berlin's night spots.—Ralph Martin
5 Hessische Strasse
Tel: 49 30 847 1090
Formed from an interweaving of glass and steel with an existing prewar structure, the Miniloft brings new glamour to the apartment hotel category. Its location in the western section of Mitte—near the Hauptbahnhof train station and the nightlife and galleries around Torstrasse—is ideal. The 14 loft-style apartments range from 300 square feet up to 450 square feet and cater to different tastes: Some have a glass curtain wall running the length of the room, while other spaces are cozier, with smaller windows and exposed floor beams. Furnishings are uniformly rectilinear and modernist, bordering on cold. But that's just so you don't get confused about where you are—in the middle of Northern Europe.—Ralph Martin
58 Albrecht Achilles Strasse
Tel: 49 30 891 9016
Fax: 49 30 892 8721
Since the advent of the design hotel, some have labored to elevate the idea to an art form. This is especially true of German artist Lars Stroschen, the owner and manager of the 30-room Propeller Island City Lodge. He pours all his creative energies into the hotel, and each room is wildly unique, ranging from the surreal Upside-Down Room, where the handmade furnishings hang from the ceiling and guests sleep and sit in comfortable boxes hidden away under the floorboards, to the kaleidoscopelike Mirror Room, with mirrors covering every surface of the diamond-shaped space. Other rooms, like the Clouds Room and the Orange Room, are comparatively calming and minimalist. You have to pick your accommodations carefully: Perhaps life's stresses call only for the Padded Room and not yet the one where the bed's in a coffin. For most, it's a place to gawk at but not to actually stay, with more visual thrills than frills: For instance, a single attendant works reception from 8 a.m. to noon only.
Karl Liebknecht Strasse 3
Tel: 49 30 23 8280
Tel: 800 333 3333 (toll-free)
The Radisson's calling carda spectacular 220,000-gallon cylindrical aquarium containing 2,500 tropical fishis actually the least compelling reason to like it. Superbly located at the end of Unter den Linden, just across the Spree River from Museum Island in the trendy Mitte district, the hotel boasts 427 unusually comfortable rooms done in a cutting-edge Scandinavian style, two excellent restaurants, a swell health club with a big swim-against-the-current pool, and a friendly (even at odd hours) staff. Overall, it's an impressive surprise for an international chainand a good buy to boot.
Tel: 49 30 2033 6666
Unapologetic and flamboyant opulence is the name of the game at this five-star property, set across from the 18th-century cathedrals of Gendarmenmarkt. In fact, stepping into the lobby, with its gleaming rose-marble floors, gilded mirrors, and dripping crystal chandeliers, may throw the unsuspecting visitor into a sort of luxury stupor. The lobby and bar are cushiony, with plush carpets, tasseled ottomans, and brocade fabrics, and the 156 guest rooms and 39 suites are among the largest in the city. Some have Juliet balconies for enjoying the view, as well as elegant color schemes and antique accents, such as Biedermeier writing desks. The room service includes "mobile boutique" delivery from the nearby Hugo Boss flagship store, where a salesperson brings a selection of clothing to your room for you to browse through. The pomp and ceremony culminates at Fischers Fritz, the much-lauded onsite restaurant, where Homard à la presse (lobster with a mousse from its pressed juice) is prepared tableside with the aid of a Christofle silver press, one of only four in the world.
3 Potsdamer Platz
Tel: 49 30 337 777
This luxe tower on the edge of the modern Potsdamer Platz aspires to being a prewar grand hotel, re-created in modern Disney-style. The 302-room building is reminiscent of the Art Deco skyscrapers of New York City and Chicago, while designer Peter Silling's interiors try hard to evoke old-world Europe, inspired by the Prussian architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel, who designed many of Berlin's most famous structures. A soaring two-story lobby with sparkling chandeliers is clearly aiming for wow factor. A marble staircase sweeps up to a traditional English tea salon and a clubby lounge-bar called the Curtain Club, which has an extensive collection of high-end schnapps and a humidor fitted into a vintage Louis Vuitton trunk. Guest rooms tend toward classic, but with modern accents and the occasional splash of bold color. Art Nouveau fixtures salvaged from an 1875 French brasserie provide the interior for the quite affordable Desbrosses French restaurant (try the marinated lobster with mango and mint), while the city of Venice was the inspiration for the Murano-chandelier-filled gourmet spot Vitrum, which serves pan-European dishes such as cured sturgeon with beetroot, horseradish, and caviar. It's all laid on a little thick for some tastes, feeling like a slightly empty, nouveau-riche idea of prewar glory, but it certainly makes an impression.
Tel: 49 30 895 840
Located a few miles from the center of town in the posh Grunewald district, this hotel occupies a stately home built in the late-Baroque-classic style. The common areas and 54 rooms are equally grand, having been completely remodeled in 1994 under the artistic direction of fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld. The total cost topped $20 million, and it shows: Five thousand sheets of gold leaf were used to restore the original ornaments, and the walls were covered with silk damask from Lyon. The basement space, which was used as a bunker during the war years, is now a Roman-style bath with large new windows. As you may have gathered, the Schlosshotel was built for and still caters to old-money aristocrats, so egalitarian types—especially those who don't dress to impress—will likely feel out of place. Make sure to arrange a car rental or driver during your stay.
Tel: 49 30 40 50 44 0
There's debate as to whether a British-style membership club and 40-room hotel in an iconic Bauhaus-inspired building, complete with the rare luxury of a private cinema and rooftop pool, belongs in this city of squats and artists. Nevertheless, Soho House's first Continental branch (the site of a former Jewish-owned department store, then HQ for Hitler Youth, and later offices of the Communist party) has been catnip to a cool crowdDamien Hirst hosted a party here during which he drew the black-spray paint shark in the loft-like, raw-concrete lobby. By day, fashion designers and expat writers lounge on velvet couches in The Club space, and in the evening, grungy young artists and Chanel-toting Charlottenburg ladies eye one another on flower-patterned chintz chairs at the poolside bar. The mix of German and British staff manages to be both efficient and friendly, while guest rooms are designed to feel like those in a glamorous estate, with old-fashioned gramophones, crystal chandeliers, cozy seating areas with Art Deco-inspired couches, and custom-made brass lamps that give off a golden light. But the centerpiece of each room is easily the decadent seven-foot-wide carved mahogany bed with a dramatic shell-shaped headboard.
Tel: 49 30 405 0440
The April 2010 debut of Soho House was met with a storm of news articles and threatened protests far out of proportion to the property's modest size (40 rooms) and price (from 100 euros). It's not just a hotel, you see: It's also a private club, and the restricted membership list has caused quite a stir in traditionally laid-back Berlin. That hasn't stopped German (and British) celebrities from packing the lobby, where Damien Hirst spray-painted a shark on a raw cement wall on the club's opening night. The rooms are intentionally eccentric, with a mix of dark parquet floors, broad swathes of red and green velvet, and chintz-covered chairs. The pricier suites offer extra touches like antique phonograph players and claw-foot tubs. Hotel guests have access to club facilities that the hoi polloi will never see, including a bar and lounge, a screening room with red velvet seats, and a rooftop pool and terrace that feel more like Ibiza than Berlin. The building itself is late Art Deco and fairly screams German Expressionism, and the protested club has the distinction of being one of the least controversial things that it has housed. The address has previously been a headquarters of the Hitler Youth and the seat of the fledgling East German government after World War II.—Ralph Martin
44 Augsburger Strasse
Tel: 49 30 220 10 0
This curved glass hotel's perfect-scoring location is "in the heart of the bustling city," near the Kurfürstendamm's shops and "only steps away from the poignant ruins of a church bombed in World War II." Public spaces display "some very interesting artwork"; guest rooms have large window seats and espresso machines. Restaurant 44 is "nothing too noteworthy," but the view from the terrace is complemented by the "authentic beer."
Tel: 49 30 755 6670
The cold, modernist design hotel look is getting a bit long in the tooth, but the Weinmeister reinvigorates the formula. Opened in June 2010, there's a dash of Alice in Wonderland here, from the lobby with its oversize angular furnishings in bold colors to the enveloping space pods perched high above the floor that serve as the restaurant's chairs. The 88 rooms have a more subtle color scheme (grays and blacks predominate), large floor-to-ceiling windows, and felt-covered bed frames. In some rooms, the beds are anchored to modular sofas and set right in the middle of the space to create a sleeping and sitting island. Each bedroom has its own iMac (which also serves as the TV); Wi-Fi is throughout. There's something that feels ultramodern and Tokyo-esque about the whole place, until you see the views: The street side looks out on a charmingly dilapidated elementary school, and the courtyard is done up in yellow and red brick, reminding you that you are, in fact, in good old northeastern Germany.—Ralph Martin