Hotel insider: Hotel am Steinplatz, Berlin, Germany
The first sensation upon entering the Hotel am Steinplatz’s 100-year-old art nouveau building is its boutique feel. Reopened in January, it’s affiliated with the globe-spanning Marriott group as part of the chain’s custom-made Autograph Collection. In the mini-maze of a lobby, there’s a piano and a marble-encased fire hearth. With coffee-table books and intriguing ornaments throughout, it’s surprisingly homely. Artworks from a nearby gallery are on sale.
This corner of west Berlin is undergoing a renaissance and it’s also easily accessible. Bus travel from Tegel Airport to the Zoological Gardens, which is a five-minute walk from the hotel, takes 30 minutes and costs €2.60 (Dh13). From there, you can also access the citywide U-Bahn underground and S-Bahn overground systems. The square that houses the hotel stands back from the main street, giving a semi-secluded air of calm. The area brims with cultural kudos, including theatres, the literary venue the LiteraturHaus, the expansive Tiergarten park and numerous cute cafes. The largest department store in continental Europe, KaDeWe, and the Kurfürstendamm shopping strip, are within walking distance.
Our fourth-floor deluxe king room is full of neat touches, such as a nifty, iPod-sized video gizmo replacing a room-door peephole. The 42-inch television will please Gulf travellers, as it’s replete with Dubai Sports and the Al Arabiya news channel. You’ll want to spend a week in the dreamy bed, which is surrounded by angular black-and-white lamps, a music dock and a good-sized writing desk. The intelligently designed bathroom features a big walk-in rain shower.
With a century of history to draw upon, the main thematic direction recounts the roaring 1920s, when the hotel was frequented by Berlin’s high society (Brigitte Bardot was also among its post-war 1950s clientele). The past melds with the present seamlessly, with large digital picture frames in the corridors. You’ll probably rub shoulders with the area’s well-heeled 21st-century locals at the contemporary bar, too.
Personable beyond the call of duty where required (reception, the restaurant and bar), but unobtrusive where it’s not (maids and cleaners are scarcely seen).
With its uninspiring name, you’d be forgiven for expecting run-of-the-mill all-day dining at Restaurant am Steinplatz. Not so. The dinner menu is “in cooperation with” the Michelin-star chef Stefan Hartmann; the results are quite simply stunning. You can taste the freshness of the locally sourced ingredients – the herbs even hail from the hotel’s own grounds. The wild smoked eel (€16 [Dh80]) starter is the real standout, while brioche dumplings distinguish the grilled saddle of veal (€27 [Dh136]). The full Steinplatz breakfast centres around a buffet of cold cuts to croissants, plus one à la carte dish from a choice of 10 (try the scrambled eggs with North Sea shrimps).
Dinner is the most memorable highlight, but the whole experience is a cut above the usual impersonal international hotel stopover.
Those investigating Berlin’s 24-hour nightlife might be surprised to have to ring a doorbell between midnight and 6am, when the hotel is locked. And, sadly, we aren’t able to sample the fully booked spa.
Convenient, character-filled and contemporary, the Steinplatz shows that city-centre hotels don’t have to be soulless.
The bottom line
Doubles start from €195 (Dh981) per night, including breakfast and VAT, plus 5 per cent tax for non-business customers. Hotel am Steinplatz, Steinplatz 4, Berlin, Germany (www.marriott.com; 0049 30 554 4440).
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Published: May 22, 2014 04:00 AM