Berlin travel: Hotel Adlon Kempinski
Named after its original owner, Lorenz Adlon, who invested 20 million gold marks into the property which first opened in 1907 (it burnt down during WWII and reopened in 1997), Hotel Adlon Kempinski is the hotel of choice for heads of state (two suites have steel-enforced walls and bullet-resistant windows), royalty, celebrities and artists (interviews with stars of Safe Haven were taking place during my visit). Previous guests include Kaiser Wilhelm II, Greta Garbo and Albert Einstein, while the Queen, Prince Charles and MJ (it was from a balcony at this hotel that he infamously dangled one of his children) are among the guests post reconstruction.
Perfectly located on the grand boulevard, Unter den Linten, a stone’s throw from the Brandenburg Gate – where any major outdoor event in the city will start or finish – the hotel boasts the stunning Lobby Lounge, complete with its original fountain (a pressie from a maharaja) and resident pianist; three restaurants, including the two Michelin-starred Lorenz Adlon Esszimmer (more of later); two bars; 15 meeting and events rooms, including two ballrooms; a high-tech fitness centre with an indoor pool; and a fab spa by Resense.
Four weeks advance booking is recommended for Lorenz Adlon Esszimmer and it’s not surprising. Located in a circular wood-panelled room with a sky scene-painted sunken ceiling and open fireplace as well as the library, we were treated to exceptional service (thank you Maître Boris Häbel and his team), a wow-inducing European-inspired tasting menu from head chef Hendrik Otto and fabulous matching wines courtesy of sommelier Shahab Jalali. Stunningly presented dishes had expansive, complex flavours and textures – think pigeon with olive sauce, onion, pistou and garlic; and vegetable stew with bouchot mussels, fennel, artichokes, tarragon and dill – but there were also plenty of playful surprises (onion rings were given a haute cuisine makeover, for example). It is certainly keeping up with the hotel’s illustrious past – August Escoffier was a previous head chef.
Other restaurants Le Quarré, UMA, le petit Felix or Shochu Bar specialise in European, Asian, French and Japanese respectively.
Breakfast is pure indulgence. Despite the huge number of guests (the hotel boasts 304 rooms and 78 suites), service is smooth and queues for the buffet are few. There are tables laden with fruit, cereals, pastries, cheeses, meats… There’s even an Asian section, plus beer and champagne on offer.
We were lucky enough to be staying in a spacious suite overlooking the Brandenburg Gate. Furnished with ‘20s-style mahogany, cherry and limestone and boasting a four-poster with brocade silk bedspreads, his ‘n’ hers wardrobe and consoles (for air con, lighting and do not disturb signs) located in the bedside table draws, a separate WC with a second entrance from the hallway as well as everything else you’d expect from a five-star hotel, our room was elegant but its bathroom was its trump card. A huge bath took centre of the circular marble bathroom, his ‘n’ hers sinks each had three mirrors and the large shower doubled as a steam room. There weren’t only generous Blaise Mautin (exclusively for Kempinski) products, but there were also extra thoughtful details such as shower caps with hair bands, dental and shaving kits.
Who Goes There?:
Anyone who can afford to. The lobby – a great spot for people-watching (it’s where the boyf noted the staff dress better than the guests) – also attracts plenty of non-guests.
Out & About:
You can’t beat the hotel’s location. The Holocaust Memorial, with its tightly-packed 2,711 stone monoliths, is across the road from the hotel’s back entrance; Frank Gehry’s architecture is inside DZ Bank, two doors away. The historic centre, the Reichstag, note-worthy sites along the former Wall and the Potsdamer Platz are all within a stroll.
Neus and Pergamonmuseum are the big hitters on Museum Island (ask concierge about a Museumspass), but I’d also recommend the Jewish Museum, housed in the ‘silver lightning bolt’ building designed by Daniel Libeskind. It’s also worth making the trip to the Berlin War Memorial on Bernauer Strasse, which is more poignant than tourist-heavy Checkpoint Charlie.
Berlin’s old pre-war Jewish quarter is full of interesting boutiques, art galleries and fab lunchtime spot, Vietnamese restaurant Monsieur Vuong.
Our fave evening bar was Green Door, located in bohemian Schöneberg. Opened by playwright Fritz Müller-Scher over 15 years ago, it’s kitschly decorated and offers an impressive cocktail list.
The Worst Thing:
Hearing the likes of songs by Elton John and Robbie Willams being performed by the pianist. Perhaps he could keep to classical and/or jazz (which were performed at breakfast time)…?
The Best Thing:
Flawless service, which surpasses most five-star hotels, and the sheer attention to detail. We were greeted by a ‘Lady in Red’ offering us champagne on arrival, generous treats were left in our room and our departure was met with calm efficiency despite the queues at check-out.
Executive rooms start from €240 per night, the junior suites are from €600 per night and suites are from €1,200 per night.
Address: Unter den Linden 77, 10117 Berlin
Telephone number: 004 9302 2610