NYC flair meets Berlin cosmopolitan chic
152 Rooms / 80 Suites
West Berlin has been on the up and up in the last couple of years, gradually shifting back into the city’s media spotlight after languishing behind the hipper East for a couple of decades. This upswing is largely due to the major redevelopment of the Bahnhof Zoo area, whose pre-Wall legacy of bleak architecture and urban squalor has, somewhat unfairly, lived on. Huge investments have meant that the area nowadays possesses a cluster of bold and impressive new buildings ranging from Bikini Berlin — a concept shopping center filled with high-end boutiques and cafés — to several gleaming new hotels.
Chief among the latter is Waldorf Astoria Berlin, a $557 million project completed in 2012 whose distinctive 390-foot-high tower — nicknamed Zoofenster (“zoo window”) — has come to at least partly define the new West Berlin. The interior’s stylish flair, presaged by its architectural prowess, extends to a top-notch dining experience, a striking Guerlain Spa and service that’s every bit as impeccable as the brand’s famed New York counterpart.
Thanks to superb transport links nearby, the Berlin hotel is also a great base from which to explore the entire city, both east and west.
Situated right across the street from S-Bahnhof Zoologischer Garten, the Waldorf Astoria is just a few minutes away from many of West Berlin’s main locations and landmarks. The renowned Zoo Berlin, the first one to ever open in Germany and one of the largest in Europe, is across the road, as is the historic Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, whose missing spire, destroyed during World War II, pays poignant tribute to the suffering of such conflicts.
The luxury hotel is well placed for shopping, too: One of the city’s most glamorous retail boulevards, the store-lined Kurfürstendamm (Ku’damm), is around the corner and the designer Bikini mall lies opposite.
With bus, train and railway stations on the doorstep, other big tourist sights such as the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag and Potsdamer Platz are all within quick and easy reach.
The spacious and comfortable rooms exude a combination of classic Art Deco decor and slick modern gadgetry. Grounded by swirl-patterned carpets and high-end wooden furnishings whose draws and doors open and close with reassuringly solid clicks, all rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows with external black-out blinds, large bedrooms with signature Waldorf beds and pillow menus, plus striking white marble bathrooms that have separate showers and toilets, deep tubs, heated floors, TVs embedded in mirrors and an all-star cast of Salvatore Ferragamo products.
In-room coffee machines keep you sufficiently caffeinated while the Apple TV system and large 40-inch television sets keep you entertained. Views span the surrounding area, including the bustling Zoo station, the leafy Tiergarten and the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church.
The top floors are naturally given over to the suites, with the 31st-floor Presidential Suite offering the best panoramas (as well as a grand piano) and the slightly lower Tower Suites featuring their own separate entrance and elevator.
The culinary highlight of the West Berlin hotel is the acclaimed Les Solistes. Located on the first floor and accessed via an elegant spiral staircase, the restaurant is helmed by French maestro Pierre Gagnaire.
The swanky interior, all gray chairs and crisp white tablecloths with gallery-quality photographs and mirrors on the wall, offers high-concept cuisine that’s seasonally aware, imaginatively made and impeccably presented. The same restaurant hosts the hotel’s exquisite buffet breakfast.
At the NYC-themed Lang Bar, pull up a retro bar stool or sit in a plush Pullman-style booth and enjoy live jazz and expertly crafted cocktails. In the summer, the action moves up to the sixth-floor roof terrace, whose white deck furniture and resident DJ create a decidedly hip ambiance.
On the ground floor, the smart Romanisches Café serves Mediterranean food, including daily business lunches, while the hotel’s 15th-floor Library Bar provides a small menu and a selection of art, fashion and architecture books that are as impressive as the views.
The only Guerlain Spa in Germany, this fifth-floor sanctuary covers almost 11,000 square feet with its eight luxuriously appointed therapy rooms (including one for pairs). There’s a Vichy shower for body services, a foot bath lounge that’s used before every treatment, as well as a sauna and steam rooms.
As with all Guerlain spas, treatments here are themed around a scent of your choice, and an in-house boutique offers a range of Guerlain products. The spa also contains a fairly spacious 24-hour fitness center and a cloud-shaped pool that gives direct access to the sun loungers and bar on the sixth-floor terrace.
Designed by German architect Professor Christoph Mäckler, the chic hotel makes constant reference to its famed New York counterpart, which dates back to the late 19th century; the large gilded bronze gate in the lobby, for example, nods to the Art Deco ironwork that marks the New York hotel’s façade.
The rest of the interiors — conceived by Parisian agency Inter-Art-Études — merge similar historic touches like the black Portoro marble columns in the foyer with subtle modern elements such as buttonless elevators and Apple TVs in the rooms.
One especially fun design element that gives you an idea of the clientle: In the foyer, a wall of white stone and gilded glass squares serves as a guest book for celebrities like Charlize Theron and Dustin Hoffman, who autographed the panels.