Me I recently found myself in Berlin. It was a whirlwind trip, but full of fun (ie: eating, shopping, and cocktails). You’ll find my entire list of “must do” items in our September issue. But for now, if you want to go to the German capital – their peak travel time is long until early fall (and also during Octoberfest), then I’ll share two places I chose to lay my weary head. from the aforementioned places and cocktailing).
The city offers a myriad of options that range from luxurious accommodations to what you’d think a broke college student would be packing in Europe. It seems that this was not the case in ten years when the “wall” came down when the city was trying to find its place in Europe. Over the past 10 to 15 years, more and more options have been found, ranging from small and intimate boutique-yy-type stores to large mega-chain stores with more and more.
Berlin Hotel #1: The Ritz-Carlton
I decided to spend my first night with a prestigious chain known for luxury and service – The Ritz-Carlton, Berlin. A regular multi-star hotel does not disappoint with this location (there are two in Germany – this one is in Berlin and the other in Wolfsburg).
It is true that the building is not historic – it was opened in 2004, but it was designed as a tribute to Art Deco architecture and it succeeds in all aspects. It underwent a 30 million euro renovation and reopened in 2019 with an interior that harkens back to the golden era of the cabaret of the 1920s. The Ritz is located in the heart of the city at Potsdamer Platz and close to Berlin’s largest indoor park, the Tiergarten. The train station is across the road which provides access to other parts of the metropolis. And walking distance you can find yourself at the historic Check Point Charlie or the Brandenburg Gate.
The five star white glove hotel offers 303 guest rooms and suites. I was lucky enough to be at the Club Lounge level (10Th floor) and were given access to this fun area inside the hotel.
There were meals and snacks served throughout the day and access to the concierge (who can also check if there is a line in the basement). I was a little worried about getting sick from eating any German food that my stomach might not be used to. I really enjoyed my breakfast at the hotel which had a variety of pastries and delicious jams (not the usual strawberry you get in the US), and sausages. There were also plenty of freshly squeezed juices – which made me feel like I was getting my day off to a good start. Lunch consisted of finger sandwiches, salads, and soups and dinner was light with an emphasis on hors d’oeuvres, crudite, and a variety of wines. And best of all, the few times I need a midnight snack, a part of the living room is reserved around the clock for sweets, juices, cookies and other snacks.
Rooms are large by European standards. I was in a room that was about 450 feet with a king size bed, a sitting area, and a small work desk. Also, the bathroom was quite large with a separate shower and bath. The decor was understated with a touch of redecoration throughout as a style of the 1920s Art Deco era.
During my recent stay I met a wide variety of tourists – Asians looking like they were ready for marathon sessions of luxury shopping, European businessmen wheeling and negotiating deals, and a few couples apparently enjoying love. I chatted with a few others over drinks at one of the hotel’s bars – The Curtain Club. Appropriately set behind spectacular curtains, the venue embraces the spirit of the twenties and twenties with a selection of lounges and live music on select days.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to eat at POTS, the downstairs restaurant that serves German fare but with a modern interpretation by Chef de Cuisine Christopher Kujanski. I was very impressed with the list of six courses that I will make time to try on my next trip to the hotel.
Hotel #2: SO/Berlin Das Stue
After staying at The Ritz-Carlton for a few days, I decided to try boutique’y and avant-garde. If you’re looking to do the same while in this city known for its nightlife and fashion that looks straight out of a Jason Bourne movie, then book a room (or better) at SO/Berlin Das Stue.
My fashion designer friend who I grew up with, Daniel Wingate (he lives in Munich but you can find stores in Texas including Saks Fifth Avenue in Houston) is the one who suggested I spend a night at this beautiful place. hotel. I was so glad I followed him on that idea. Since it is off the main road and adjacent to the Tiergarten it felt more private than the Ritz. During my first search I was impressed to find that the famous Dutch line Viktor & Rolf (named after the founders Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren) was part of the hotel’s design.
When I got in, I found nice looking cars (not flashy sports cars, quiet luxury cars) with few drivers and passengers. The valet was wearing a brocade brocade jacket known as a Viktor & Rolf creation. Located in the diplomatic district, the heritage-protected (archived) building is a former Royal Danish embassy built by KaDeWe architect Johann Emil Schaudt in the late 1930s. of limestone skeletons, it recalls the commercial buildings that were popular in the 1920s and 30s. Schaudt designed a charming entrance hall in travertine and granite, with an inviting side staircase.
You’ll also find interiors adorned with beautiful parquet floors, reclaimed wood paneling, floor-to-ceiling windows that allow plenty of light into some public areas, and a seamless blend of vintage and modern. The famous interior designer Patricia Urquiola is responsible for the combination of history and modern materials (with selected pieces from Molteni and B&B Italia). They also added fun touches like art objects and surreal leather animals from Omersa & Co, as a nod to the hotel’s wild neighbors – the animals of the Berlin Zoo.
My entrance was funny as the guy, who also looked like he had been ripped off from a Viktor & Rolf show (they made the uniforms for all the staff), had a confused English. I saw a few clothes next to the check-in desk which intrigued me – it was a Dutch designer store that was so cool and under the radar that it didn’t need to advertise itself with any signage. Or art. Or simply a valet service for supervised laundry.
My room was smaller than the one I had at The Ritz, but I found it very comfortable with every space in the room being used wisely. And the most interesting part of my room – the view of the giraffe’s yard at the Zoo.
Probably the most unique thing I’ve ever found at a hotel: the aforementioned wardrobe. Well, I realized that night while chatting with the bartender, that it is a beautiful and impressive outfit, chosen by Viktor & Rolf. Not only products from their old collections but also other manufacturers they admire. Unfortunately, there were no Viktor & Rolf clothes for sale (I was lusting after the valet shirts every time I saw them), but I did take home one souvenir, a set with a cute animal print I found in my room designed by a Dutch duo.