Dorint Sofitel Am Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin $$$$
Concierge.com's insider take:
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.