Berlin’s greatest and most glamorous hotel, the Adlon Kempinski remains one of world’s finest. Christopher Rosar samples its charms as 2020 dawns.
Sitting opposite the Brandenburg Gate, the Hotel Adlon Kempinski has stood witness to both Germany’s turbulent past and astonishing post-war rebirth. In a city where the marks of history are writ large, and where the rapid pace of the present can often be disorientating, the Adlon remains a warm, enduring presence.
The Adlon opened in 1907 and was largely destroyed in 1945 in the final days of World War II. Since re-opening in 1997 the hotel has hosted an extraordinary number of luminaries across the decades. The hotel’s prestigious location at the heart of Berlin on Unter den Linden gives guests immediate access to some of the city’s most venerated historical sights.
The Reichstag and Potsdamer Platz are all 10 minutes walk away. The hotel itself boasts outstanding facilities including a two-floor spa, a ballroom, wintergarden and numerous restaurants and even its own limousine service.
A very tall, brightly lit Weihnachtsbaum (Christmas tree) stands in front of the Brandenburg Gate as we arrive at the Adlon on a busy evening a week before Christmas. Smiling doormen greet us as we sweep through the large revolving door, past a slightly smaller but no less beautifully decorated Christmas tree and into the bright expansive lobby bustling with people and the sounds of laughter.
We were following in the footsteps of esteemed former guests such as Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Albert Einstein and more recently Nelson Mandela and Queen Elizabeth II. The Adlon remains today the favoured destination of VIPs when visiting the German capital. The Presidential Suite is considered the safest hotel suite in Europe and is bulletproof, bombproof with steel reinforced walls.
An extraordinary Murano chandelier hangs from the ceiling of the lobby. Beneath which, guests relax and chatter on bergère armchairs and velvet sofas that are spread around the lobby. There are bespoke haute couture boutiques tucked away in corners of the lobby. Throughout the hotel the modern design and decor is complemented by old world touches through the use of mahogany and marble.
Despite how busy the Adlon is during this festive season, our check in is completed swiftly at the oval reception area. The staff are polite, friendly and eager to answer any questions we have. As always with Kempinski, the lobby has an extensive concierge desk and their signature ‘Ladies in Red’ Kempinski ambassadors.
Children are well taken care of at the Adlon. The concierge service can advise on child-friendly activities in Berlin while the hotel can provide children’s bathrobes, soaps and sweets.
Rooms and suites
Our stunning suite had a dramatic view over the Pariser Platz and the front of the Brandenburg Gate. The Adlon has, incredibly, 13 different types of suites. The large limestone floored entrance area comes with large cupboards and an electronic switch for discreetly alerting waiting staff to make up your room or simply to not enter. An ice bucket of champagne, a chocolate Brandenburg Gate and a crystal bowl of pink roses greeted us – a lovely welcome after a long flight.
With mahogany and cherry furnishings throughout, the spacious suite had all the luxury touches you can wish for. The room also had some nice touches including antique prints of birds and a beautiful retro brown suede sofa that sat opposite a large walnut work desk. There was a cabinet with a pull out flat screen television and a Krups espresso maker as well as a very well-stocked minibar.
The huge bathroom was decked out in black granite with two basins and a delightful large, deep bathtub that was perfect to relax in after a long day at the nearby Christmas markets. The Adlon provides a wide range of Salvatore Ferragamo Tuscan Soul toiletries.
The Adlon Spa by Resense
The hotel’s elegant underground spa, the Adlon Spa by Resense, was designed by Anne Maria Jagdfeld and boasts a heated pool, steam room, sauna, whirlpool, 24-hour fitness centre, hair salon and treatments from facials to yoga lessons.
The Adlon has three main restaurants: The two Michelin-starred Lorenz Adlon Esszimmer has refined dining; Sra Bua serves Asian – European fusion cuisine and the more relaxed Restaurant Quarré, where we ate. Restaurant Quarré serves classic German and French dishes and is renowned for its 600g Chateaubriand served with Béarnaise sauce, which several groups of people were enjoying on the very busy evening we visited. Couples and groups filled the restaurant.
After sharing a refreshing buffalo mozzarella salad as a starter we tucked into mains of succulent Kalbsflanksteak (veal steak) with chimichurri, celery, herb oyster mushrooms and green asparagus and a seasonal Christmas special of roast goose leg. Both dishes were accompanied by a robust Bordeaux, Chateaux Grand Bireau (2014).
Full and content we decided to share a delicious desert of Rhabarbermousse (rhurbarb mousse) with strawberry and meringue. The restaurant is noted for its Schwarzwalder Kirsch Kreation (deconstructed black forest gateau) with chocolate biscuits and cherry which we are sure to sample next time we are in town. We retired afterwards to the lobby bar that is open late. As a pianist played, we sank into one of the lovely deep sofas, shut our eyes and reawakened the past.
Morning came and we headed for breakfast. The very popular Bel Etage breakfast buffet has to be seen to be believed and serves every breakfast dish you could possibly imagine from fresh Wurst and wide varieties of locally baked delicious German breads to an exhaustive range of mueslis, yoghurts and even caviar. Tea connoisseurs will not be disappointed with a selection of dozens of herbal varieties.
There is a champagne on ice for those wanting a morning pick me up. Breakfast includes a separate menu for ordering various egg and vegan options. Vegan and gluten free options are numerous, inventive and tasty. On leaving Bel Etage you are presented with a goody-bag of take away pastries. The perfect start before heading out to explore this extraordinary city.
Junior suites on Unter der Linden from EUR 750 a night.
Address: Unter den Linden 77, 10117 Berlin, Germany
Phone: +49 30 22610