Debonair looks at the best places to stay, eat, drink and explore in one of Switzerland’s most exciting regions
Debonair takes you to the places you need to stay, eat and drink in the German capital
Throughout its turbulent history Berlin has been the heartbeat of Western culture. Once divided, today it stands as a great symbol of unification. To walk through the German capital is to feel the pulse of history.
It’s a modern hive of art, pop culture and, in a curiously beautiful way, graffiti. Standing at the centre of the Western political world, Berlin has divided as many as it has united.
In John F. Kennedy's immortal words, “All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin. And therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words, ‘Ich bin ein Berliner!’”
WHERE TO STAY
Hotel Adlon Kempinski Unter Den Linden 77, 10117, Berlin, Germany
According to the 2014 Michelin Guide, the Adlon Kempinski is as significant to Berlin as the Brandenburg Gate. And it’s not hard to see why. If it’s not the opulence of the black marble and champagne chandelier aesthetic of the capacious lobby, it’s the breathtaking rooms with views of the famous Gate which acts as an entry into the heart of the city. The current hotel site is a restoration job from a broken down husk of a grand building that was ravaged by the war and Cold War years. Officially inaugurated in 1997, the hotel today is a marvel in grandiose hospitality in the centre of Berlin.
First opened in 1907 by the visionary entrepreneur Lorenz Adlon, the luxury hotel celebrated its reopening at the historic Pariser Platz location in 1997 after the original site fell into disrepair during the war years that Berlin was embroiled in. The hotel’s 385 rooms and suites offer unimpeded views of the Brandenburg Gate and the two-Michelin starred Lorenz Adlon Esszimmer restaurant offers unrivalled fine dining.
With 385 rooms and suites a stone’s throw from the famous Gate that once divided Germany, the Adlon boasts presidential and royal suites that leave no lavish stone unturned. And Lorenz Adlon Esszimmer, the hotel’s exquisite two-Michelin starred restaurant, requires bookings at least a month in advance, such is its popularity among residents and travellers.
Where to eat
Situated in the glorious Regent Berlin hotel, the interior reflects the idea of a sophisticated Berlin salon, combining heritage and modernity. The elegant yet informal atmosphere along with the view over the historic Gendarmenmarkt pays homage to the salon culture of the 19th century, serving gastronomic French-inspired seafood dishes.
Although you might feel like you’re entering an off-limits nightclub as you walk through a “secret passage” to get here, Tausend offers fine dining in Berlin par excellence. A neon-on-black interior gives off a refined yet futuristic feel as you eat your way through some of the most rarefied gastronomic dishes the city has to offer. From octopus to yellowfin sashimi, the fare is exquisitely balanced and presented to the highest standards.
Invoking the jazz aura that permeated Berlin throughout the 1920s, Kunstfabrik Schlot radiates that dynamic energy that only live impromptu music can evince as people eat and drink over intimately positioned tables facing the stage.
WHERE TO STAY
Ritz-Carlton Berlin Potsdamer Platz 3, 10785, Berlin, Germany
At the historical heart of Mitte, located right next to the remains of the Berlin Wall and adjacent to the sprawling greenery of Tiergarten, the Ritz-Carlton Berlin is a glamorous urban rendering that celebrates the Art Deco era and oozes class. The grand hotel combines the glamour of Germany’s golden 1920s with the modernity of Berlin’s cultural centre. Designed by renowned architects Hilmer & Sattler and Albrecht, the hotel captures the glamorous essence of decadent Berlin in a contemporary build.
Besides its 303 rooms, including 39 suites, a presidential suite and the highly advisable Ritz-Carlton Apartment (265sqm), the hotel’s reputation for luxury precedes itself, offering a haven of style and elegance in the centre of the pulsating city. With a spa area featuring a pool, sauna, steam room, hot stone, fitness suite and massage-on-request services, it prides itself on providing an oasis of calm in the otherwise bustling and vibrant city.
Where to drink
The Reichstag Dome
For a tipple infused with culture and unparalleled view across the city, this is the one. To get to the rooftop terrace, you can take a twenty minute guided tour explaining the historical significance of Berlin’s central role in world politics as well as a detailed explanation of the construction of the famous Reichstag dome — an assemblage of 360 mirrors that illumine the inner workings of the German parliament below. Sunset is our advised time. Watch the sun setting over Berlin with a stein in hand. Prost to that!
Tucked away beneath a brick arch of the S-Bahn rail viaduct, Zentral’s décor cries out in abstract chic. And also offers a funky place to quench your thirst. The zebra stripe pattern of the restrooms is not exactly subtle, but it certainly is different, giving the interior a strikingly hip vibe.
Unsurprisingly, but not in a boring way, this little gem is nestled just behind a... green door on Winterfeldt Street. A retro space decorated in a domestic ’70s style with cute checked wallpaper, Green Door is an intimate space at a push. But it’s well worth getting in before the rush to experience the atmosphere and experiment with the list of cocktails.
WHERE TO STAY
Hotel de Rome Behrenstraße 37, 10117, Berlin, Germany
Its style mimics the city: A cultural collision of the historic and the vibrantly new. Built in what used to be the Dresdner Bank, the hotel’s renovation has turned capacious executive offices into lavish suites; what used to be the jewel vault is now a 20m indoor swimming pool; and the cashier’s hall is now the grand ballroom. When Berlin was divided, the communist state bank of East Germany (DDR) disliked the grandeur of the hotel’s stone edifice so much that they had it boarded up — they couldn’t afford to demolish it — and inadvertently preserved it for today’s high-end traveller.
The 108 rooms and 37 suites — designed by Olga Polizzi and Tommaso Ziffer — are all exercises in luxuriant accommodation. But the historic suites are some of the most outstanding in the city. The Historic Banker Suite and the Humboldt Historic Suite (named after the Prussian polymath who spent much of his time in Germany) have that extra wow-factor of staying in a place dripping with cultural significance.
Where to explore
The lungs of Europe’s greenest city, adding a vibrant splash of verde onto the canvas of one of the country’s grittier but beautiful cities: Tiergarten is a stunning feature of the German capital. Though much was destroyed during the Second World War, it now blooms in year-round glory, reflecting each season’s mood. Flanked by various war memorials, the green stretch of overarching trees is essential for any cultural explorer.
The closest the world has come to a Third World War played out here in 1961, in a famous stand-off between American and Soviet tanks each pointing at one another for 16 nervous hours. US President John F. Kennedy was forced to open diplomatic back channels to diffuse the potentially devastating conflict between the two post-war superpowers.
Fernsehturm (TV Tower)
Erected between 1965-9 and standing at an imperious 365m, it’s Berlin’s tallest building. The TV Tower was essential during the years of division so East Germany could have a separate broadcasting system. Urban legend has it that Walter Ulbricht, leader of the then ruling Socialist Unity Party, capped the tower’s height at 365m so children could remember its height for having the same number of days in a calendar year. It remains the only TV Tower in Europe.