If you’ve already planned out your entire Berlin itinerary, it’s probably full of museums, monuments, and historical must-sees marking Berlin’s tumultuous past. Why not stay in a physical treasure of 20th century Berlin while you’re at it? Along with a huge assortment of boutique hotels, the city is home to five exceptional structures that have been re-interpreted to host curious guests. With a focus on luxury, restoration, and architecture, each of the following buildings played a role in mid-century Berlin both before and after World War Two. Very much alive with an ever-present stream of international travellers, the hotels have all been resurrected and restored; the oldest stands at over 130 years old. Returning to one of these temporary homes after touring the capital will leave you with a fresh perspective on Berlin’s malleable identity, then and now.
Soho House Berlin
The Soho House building’s direct ties to the Nazi regime make it an artifact in its own right; and an example of the many different incarnations one structure can take on depending on who is in power. Originally a Jewish-owned department store, the Soho House fell under control of Hitler’s Reich Youth Leadership during the onset of World War Two. It served as the organization’s headquarters until the end of the war, after which it was used by the Soviet Union to house the new communist party’s Central Committee. National operations were overseen from the building, which was eventually returned to its rightful owners. After its purchase by the Soho House Group, the hotel became the sixty-five bedroom hub it is today. Available to Soho House members, the hotel offers short and long term loft stays, all day dining, a rooftop pool and even an on-site movie theatre. It’s easy to see how the House’s regal, intimidating facade was once meant to symbolize power in the eyes of Berliners. The interior, however, has been adapted to a sophisticated yet comfortable space with communal areas and an inviting, casual-chic atmosphere. The membership-only Soho House experience is an exclusive way to savor Berlin’s nightlife, hospitality, and history all wrapped up under one monumental roof. Despite its towering facade andery official past, the House feels like a chapter of contemporary Berlin that is here to evolve.
Hotel de Rome
Looking over the square of Bebelplatz, Hotel de Rome has borne witness to over a century of dramatic German finance, politics, and strife. The building was built in 1889, and housed Dresdner Bank until the formation of East Germany after World War Two. Though Bebelplatz itself might not initially ring any bells, it was where the Nazis carried out infamous wartime book burnings. After the war, the building remained a bank headquarters, this time representing East Germany. Since then, the former bank has taken on a new life, welcoming visitors and taking advantage of its unique design. Many elements of the original bank remain, adding to your learning experience at Bebelplatz. As you settle in for a treatment at the hotel spa, look around; your massage table will be sitting in what used to be a highly secured jewel vault. Former offices are now luxury suites, but the layout of the building is largely intact. It’s easy to imagine the hum of a busy morning permeating the hotel corridors, and the contents of some of the bank’s most heavily protected rooms. Step out onto the rooftop terrace to admire an aerial view of the Mitte district and the city beyond; when things get chilly, cozy La Banca Bar is waiting to refill your cocktail glass inside.
Hotel Adlon Kempinski
Unlike the Soho House and Hotel de Rome, the five- star Hotel Adlon Kempinski has been a signature hotel since its conception in 1907. Its grand opening was announced all over the continent, and prominent guests included actors, scientists, American presidents, and European leaders. The Hotel Adlon survived World War Two, but burnt down in early May 1945 and when the reunified city of Berlin started anew in the early nineties, the hotel was rebuilt and reopened in 1997, represented by the Kempinski hotel brand. The new hotel was constructed in ode to the first, aiming to return the Adlon reputation to its former glory, and quickly became a celebrity draw all over again. Today, the hotel’s second iteration is continuing to set the standard, with a full spa, two bars, three restaurants, and 78 luxury suites, including three presidential suites to complement a wide selection of guest rooms. Don’t miss the Adlon Kempinski’s current offer; until September 30th, receive up to 20% off on select suite stays.
Hotel am Steinplatz
The Hotel am Steinplatz is another cornerstone of Berlin’s early 20th century hotel boom; opened by Max Zellermayer in 1913, the Hotel is now part of the Autograph Collection by Marriott and boasts exceptional art nouveau design elements. Expect classic bay windows, an arched entryway, and rooms looking out over a secluded central courtyard. Unwind at the Restaurant am Steinplatz, where traditionally German cuisine is crafted to delectable new heights using local ingredients. Though the am Steinplatz building rotated through different hands throughout the 20th century, it was always meant to house and host. Russian socialites once called its suites home, and its lobby once served as a rendezvous point for some of Berlin’s best known creatives. In 2013, 100 years after its construction, the am Steinplatz underwent an architectural makeover, with nature-inspired additions meant to enhance the building’s intricate sculptural detailing. Lodging options include the Spa Suite, Junior Suites, and Superior rooms, where natural light, vintage design elements and wooden furniture set the scene. Feel at home in the neighborhood of Charlottenburg as you settle into Berlin’s 24/7 rhythm moments after stepping out of your new front door.
SO/ Berlin Das Stue
Recycled and repurposed for decades after its original construction, SO/ Berlin Das Stue began its Berlin residency as the Danish Embassy, hosting diplomats and ambassadors. Falling out of use during World War Two, the building was returned to the Danish government immediately following the war. That saga was brought to an end in 1970, when the building was sold to become public housing. Unmaintained and uncared for, the former embassy stood dilapidated until the 1980’s when it was converted into offices. Das Stue’s legacy as a premier hotel didn’t begin until 2009, incorporating new guest-friendly elements and capitalizing on old ones, such as original French doors. In the twelve years since its opening, SO/ Berlin Das Stue has become a household name in European hospitality, providing easy access to the best of Berlin from the embassy district. Das Stue’s head architect, Johann Emil Schaut, was inspired by commercial architecture, and you can spot his fascination in the hotel’s gentle curve around the street below. Das Stue has some of the German capital’s most talked about views, best experienced from the Penthouse and Bel Etage Suites, as well as from the hotel’s pool and sauna combination. Don’t miss the menu at The Casual, which you can enjoy on the terrace, surrounded by garden greenery.
Moving through Berlin is like being transported through time; the city’s secrets lie…