Berlin Travel Guide
There’s nothing like a little Hollywood style hype to draw some attention to the re-opening of a hotel. For two years, the Hotel Zoo in Berlin has been under serious wraps during its renovation and we don’t have much more to go on than we did when it closed. Recent announcements about the hotel’s big unveiling this October have got us curious, and clues about what the hotel may actually look like come from, none other than, Hollywood.
The dream of every prestigious hotel is to create a unique environment, one that will bring locals in off the street as much as it will entice its guests to stay put. During a recent trip to Germany, we stumbled upon a brand-new bar (no pun intended) at the Ritz Carlton Berlin that might just be the most out of the box concept we've seen at a hotel in a long, long time.
Called Fragrances, the bar's premise combines perfume with cocktail creation, encouraging patrons to use their sense of smell to pick their drink. The visual menu is set up right inside the entrance to the lounge-like bar, a lineup of perfume bottles displayed alongside the ingredients used to make the drink. Above, a photo of the cocktail's presentation hangs.
When selecting a drink, you smell the perfume carefully because the drink will 1) also smell like that perfume and 2) reflect that smell in its taste. The concept was designed and implemented by mixologist slash perfume expert Henning Heissen, who through a number of trials, was able to find the combination of ingredients that replicated the smell of the perfumes. Each drink is served in a unique way, from glasses in buckets and birdhouses to those that resemble baby bottles.
Problematic packers, you know who you are.
You can’t zip your suitcase without your entire family doing a tap dance on top of it. At the airport, people congratulate your Samsonite and ask “how far along” it is. When you unpack at the hotel, your once-neatly pressed wardrobe looks like someone was trying to teach themselves origami with your conference outfits.
There is help for people like you, and his name is Ivica Tot-Genz. As the laundry manager at Rocco Forte’s Hotel de Rome in Berlin, Tot-Genz has become the Yoda of luggage management. He’s an interesting guy, a trained bespoke tailor (eye for measurements) who used to fold parachutes for stowing under pilots’ seats in his native Croatia. And his “professional packing” service is inclusive for Hotel de Rome guests.
To give us a taste of his experience-gleaned ideas, Tot-Genz shared with us ten of his Top 10 Packing Tips:
Those who go to Berlin seeking to soak up the city's incredible history will be interested to learn that a package offered by the 400-room Westin Grand gives guests the opportunity to take home a piece of the Berlin Wall with a two-night "Wallpecker Package."
The hotel recently purchased a chunk of the Wall, which now sits out in front of the lobby doors on the street. Guests who book the package get to take up a chisel and hammer off a piece, which comes with a certificate of authenticity. The package also includes an upscale taste of Berlin in the form of a currywurst sausage and a glass of Champagne at the lobby restaurant (check out our bro Jaunted's guide to eating in Berlin to learn more about currywurst).
Although the property itself doesn't go much beyond your standard city accommodations despite its name, Berlin's Lux 11 Hotel in Mitte had a reverse housekeeping policy that perked our interest, one that had us wondering if it might be an industry solution to payroll and environmental concerns: Instead of regular daily housekeeping that comes unless you ask them not to, room cleaning only takes place if you ask for it.
The hotel spells out this policy on the back of the door as well as upon check-in, letting guests know that if they want housekeeping service, they have to hang a tag on the door prior to noon. In its note, Lux 11 explains that its method prevents against the problem of being annoyed by maids in the morning.
The 25hours brand has scored another design hit with its seventh hotel, 25hours Bikini Berlin. What better time for such a debut when most of us are embedded in snow.
25hours, aka 25h, is best known for its vibrant personality, creative vision, and dedication to its like-minded guests. Each of its hotels comes alive in a very distinctive way, taking a modern perspective of the local setting, while carefully cultivating spaces that really work. With only seven hotels, 25hours is a brand to keep watching-- and we love looking!
Boutique Hotels / Berlin Hotels / Germany Hotels / Hotel Search Engines / Hotel Booking Sites / → All Tags
Seven boutique hotels located across Germany's capital have joined together in creating a booking site called BoutiqueHotelsinBerlin.com. No hotel on the site has more than 200 rooms, and only two have been operating for more than three years. Customers can search by location and compare notes on the properties' themes, rooms, and facilities.
Granted, this is not an extensive collection by any means for a city as big as Berlin, but we like the concept of seeing the little guys join forces. We assume more properties will jump on the newly-launched site over the next year, giving the bigger, more SEO dominate hotel chains a little competition as travelers continue the trend of seeking out small, more authentic properties around the globe.
Killer View / Waldorf Astoria Hotels / Waldorf-Astoria Collection. Berlin Hotels / Luxury Hotels / → All Tags
Based on its setting within the Zoofenster skyscraper, the views to be had from Waldorf Astoria Berlin already looked good on paper, but having seen a number of rooms ourselves recently, we can tell you that the hotel does indeed serve up some killer views.
These particular vistas, stretching all the way across the city’s Tiergarten to the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag in the distance, come courtesy of one of its Tower Suites, recognisable even from the outside as being located in the all glass block within the limestone façade. Accessible only by a separate set of lifts, which need a key card to be activated, they each measure 900+ square feet with living and dining room, powder room, master bedroom and bathroom, and kitchenette. More pictures after the jump.
Design Hotels / Nhow Hotels / Hotel Check-Ins / Front Desks / Karim Rashid / Hotel Design / Berlin Hotels / Hotel Recording Studios / → All Tags
Berlin is known for their funky, eccentric, quirky and sometimes, just plain weird hotels but right now, we're crushing hard on this massive pink check-in desk at the Hotel nhow.
We found this snapshot in the HotelChatter Flickr Pool, taken by Ken E. Lee, one of our regular photo droppers. He mentioned that the desk is a work of DJ/designer Karim Rashid who has been populating design hotels around the world with his installations.
Indeed, the nhow, a "music and lifestyle" hotel, was touched by Rashid throughout from the lobby spaces to the guest rooms. Which is fitting considering that Rashid has a musical background as well. Here's some more on the concept of this nhow hotel (there's another one in Milan):
There are times when we truly feel there is much progress being made on the free hotel WiFi front, and we dare to dream of a day where we hardly remember it ever being any other way. And then there are moments that bring us right back down to earth, like at the Berlin Marriott.
It was over four years ago we first came across its costly WiFi options, running all the way up to €379 ($500+) for the privilege of browsing the internet for a month. 2013 it may be, but the Berlin Marriott is still living in 2009, with the exact same options today:
- €5.95 ($8) for an hour of in-room access
- €19.95 ($27) for 24 hours
- €99.75 ($135) for one week
- €379.05 ($510 in today’s dollars) for one month
That month-long option wouldn’t be far off a month’s rent for an apartment, this being one of the most affordable European capitals. Please Mr. Marriott, even Edition can offer it for free throughout the hotel, so could we move along with the times?
Airport Hotels / Berlin Hotels / Cheap and Chic Hotels / Germany Hotels / Meininger Hotels / → All Tags
We have a thing for colorful hotels. We could hardly contain our excitement when checking out the Saguaro Hotel in Scottsdale and we snapped the whirlpool at the Wanderlust Hotel in Singapore, to name a few. So when we saw Flickr member Ken E. Lee drop this snapshot of the Hotel Meininger near the Berlin Airport in the HotelChatter Flickr Pool, we instantly perked up.
If you haven't heard of Meininger Hotels before (and we hadn't), the brand can be found throughout Germany and also in London, Amsterdam and Vienna. It's one of those cheap but stylish hotel chains that is just a notch above hostel accommodations (although most Meininger hotels do have "dormitory" options.) And while it does bill itself as great for everyone--families, business travelers and backpackers--we're not sure you'd want to do more than two nights here. That said it's crazy affordable. A single room at Berlin Airport hotel starts at 35 Euros a night while the dormitory rooms start at just 15 €. And of course the WiFi is totally free.
Yet while all Meininger hotels boast colorful interiors (see this shot here), we think this one is the only one that's colorful on the outside as well. Now, how do you say "Sunglasses at Night" in German?
[Photo: Ken E. Lee/Flickr]
Hotel News / Marriott Hotels / Autograph Collection / Berlin Hotels / Germany Hotels / Historic Hotels / → All Tags
Germany just became a little more appealing to Marriott Rewards members, as the brand announced yesterday it will be adding Berlin's Hotel Am Steinplatz to the Autograph Collection later this summer. That's even more reason to get excited about Berlin right now (aside from the fact that it's a kick-ass city), as Waldorf-Astoria just popped up there in January.
The Hotel Am Steinplatz building originally opened in 1907 with a design by August Endell (also responsible for Berlin's Hackesche Hoefe), though it didn't become a hotel until 1913. Which makes 2013 its one hundredth hotel-iversary. Herzlichen Glückwunsch!
To mark the occasion, Marriott's spruced the place up with an "extensive renovation," and the result is an 87-room property with 3 luxury suites, a restaurant, and a spa.
Knowing what we know about Autograph Collection (and having stayed at one in Budapest), we fully trust that the brand's German debut will be a stunner. The hotel is described as having once been "an exclusive meeting point for artists, writers, philosophers and even aristocratcy." Well. We'd expect nothing less.