Hotel Adlon is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World portfolio. The Queen stayed here, Obama stayed here, and Michael Jackson dangled his new-born son out of the window here. It’s fair to say that throughout the Twentieth Century, the Hotel Adlon Kempinski has barely left the news.
Now celebrating its 110th birthday, the Adlon is still the only realistic destination for Berlin’s visiting international elite. It has stayed en-vogue because of its cushy location, one minute’s walk from attractions like the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag, but also because it has thoughtfully reconciled its rich history with a modern and relaxed idea of luxury. You’ll find the staff, for instance, are refreshingly informal, and subtly attentive.
The centre piece is a giant but casual lobby bar that serves all day, with spectacular furnishings so grand they make its patrons look like the subjects of a Renaissance painting. A first-floor balcony and double-height ceilings call for marvelous Art Deco light fixtures, and an atrium fills with natural light. The necessities (concierge, check in desks, lifts) are off on the fringes, out of sight of all the socialising.
The hotel was rebuilt in the Nineties, and there is the odd patch of tired carpet from that era, but otherwise the hotel reflects the Golden Age of glamour; gold leaf and marble are key to the design. There are nods to the hotel’s history too, for instance in the lifts, which have been modeled to look like they’re from the early part of last Century, when the hotel was first booming.
The Bar and Restaurant
At the Hotel Adlon Kempinski, choose from a spread of restaurants that say “you don’t need to go out to explore the Berlin kitchen.” If you’re swerving the twice-Michelin-starred Lorenz Adlon Esszimmer, try the hipper Sra Bua by Tim Raue, an Asian restaurant with an adjoined bar serving Asian-inspired cocktails.
Sra Bua feels like it’s been designed by someone who has spent their life eating in the best restaurants. Everything’s primed for perfection, from the curved sofas in chic grey (a perfect statement of relaxed fine dining), to the upbeat soundtrack that never stifles. I’d recommend dining on either the 4, 6 or 8-course tasting menus, which will surprise and delight.
The dishes on them are beauteous, miraculous assertions in Asian flavour. I’ll never forget a dish of scallop, coconut and lotus, a marriage of nature’s sweetest treats, only made better by the way those textures – melty and firm – play with one another in the mouth (who dreamed this up?!). Or the codfish, served with a mussel reduction and a kimchi salad to cut through, which was an Instagram sensation. Or the apricot, black tea and calpico dish with just enough gumption to stand alone, yet not enough to kill my pangs for chocolate after. My guest loved the cohesion, and how dishes accelerated in intensity, but we both agreed the avocado and milk chocolate finale craved a darker, flakier chocolate to play boss to the avocado’s natural fat.
Breakfast was a lavish buffet overlooking the lobby bar; the best of which was Champagne, caviar, roast beef, and eggs any way you like, and if it weren’t for our day plans, my guest and I might have gladly stayed here until the mid-afternoon.
You’ll obviously be hankering for a room with a view of the Brandenburg Gate, but if your budget doesn’t stretch into the thousands, the classic Executive Rooms have decent views too, and impressive comfort. In fact, they have a generous slab of living space to boot, and a working desk, and all rooms are fitted with a shower and a deep-fill stand-alone bathtub.
My guest and I stayed in a Junior Suite overlooking the Brandenburg Gate, which performs a spectacular and chameleonic daily light show as the shadows of the afternoon turn into night. The Gate could be watched all weekend and not be seen bathed in the same light twice. In those suites, special touches include an in-shower steamer, a four-poster bed, and ample entertaining space. And a chocolate Brandenburg Gate my guest and I demolished over room service.
Berlin is on your doorstep, but the hotel’s facilities are vying for your attention. There’s a Romanesque swimming pool, with separate female, and mixed, saunas with a steam room and cold plunge pool. An afternoon spent around the pool is a very pleasing one, although at peak times the area needs more loungers.
On the other side of the hotel, a new and spectacular treatment wing has been installed, for wide-ranging massage and beauty treatments away from the hubbub of the pool. I sampled the 90 minute Lomi Lomi Nui, with Hawaiian oils for hydrating skin, in a private treatment room with its own shower, toilet, and bathtub. Given that this is world class pampering, it’s a shame the pool isn’t mere seconds away for post-treatment recuperation, but attentive staff will happily guide guests back to the pool afterwards.
The Adlon has survived over a Century at the top of the Berlin hotel game. Its secret is its addiction to quiet renovations (the foyer and the spa have been made over in the last decade), so its glamour is anything but faded.
- Room reviewed: Junior Suite Brandenburg Gate, £1,840, or £1,920 with breakfast, an Executive Suite costs £360, or £400 with breakfast
- Website: www.kempinski.com/en/berlin/hotel-adlon
- Address: Unter Den Linden 77, 10117, Berlin, Germany
- Phone: 030 22610