Hotel Insider: Hotel Zoo Berlin
Hotel Zoo Berlin’s subtle entrance, between Hugo Boss and Apple stores, isn’t so easy to spot, but once inside, there’s no doubt where I am. Exposed brick walls flank the softly lit corridor, where four prowling leopards make up the pattern on the dark-green carpet designed by Diane von Furstenberg. They lead me to the reception desk, where check-in is cheerful and efficient. I turn into the vast, double-height lobby called the Living Room, with design that brings to mind a resplendent Alice in Wonderland set, thanks to the gargantuan door that dominates one wall.
About a year ago, this 1891 town house came out of hibernation after a major refurbishment that shows off the hotel’s two main themes: animals and old-fashioned Hollywood glamour. The animal link is obvious: Berlin’s venerable zoo is a 10-minute walk away. The movie theme harks back to the 1950s, when the hotel was the official place for stars to stay during the Berlin film festival. It’s on Berlin’s main shopping boulevard, Kurfürstendamm, so you’re only a few minutes’ walk from KaDeWe, continental Europe’s largest department store.
My Panorama room has floor-to-ceiling windows and a small balcony above Kurfürstendamm, though its noises are blocked by effective soundproofing. Among the sleek contemporary furnishings, pearly leather chairs and neutral tones are some witty touches, such as 1930s-style phones. The compact bathroom is made less claustrophobic by a mirrored wall and a glass walk-in rainforest shower. The Wi-Fi works like a dream, without any nonsense such as having to sign in again and again.
The staff are as smartly turned out as the hotel, friendly and eager to help.
Since its opening, the 145-room hotel has become a popular hangout for the Charlottenburg elite – thanks to the cosy Grace Bar. Berlin’s beautiful people who got tired of trekking out to Mitte for a night out have fallen in love with the bar’s sumptuous velvet banquettes, exposed brick walls and low lighting. Most of the hotel guests are impeccably dressed Germans, plus a few Brits and Russians. Smokers are catered for with the Wintergarden, an elegant courtyard lounge that shares the enormous fireplace with the Living Room on the other side.
The elegant Restaurant Grace doubles as the breakfast room, with a top-class buffet. There’s a separate menu for cooked breakfast dishes, such as omelettes. The lunch and dinner menus mingle Mediterranean and Asian flavours – the grilled lobster with Asian hollandaise on a bed of udon noodles (€28 [Dh117]) being a prime example.
The splendid design of the Living Room, the Grace Bar and the Restaurant Grace.
Step into the lift, and you get assaulted by flashing bulbs mimicking an attack by the paparazzi. It’s amusing the first time, but less so afterwards. And the shower could do with a shelf.
It’s a classy addition to the steady rejuvenation of Berlin’s City West, and a stylish base if you fancy an indulgent shopping trip.
The bottom line
Double rooms at the Hotel Zoo Berlin cost from €180 (Dh751) per night, room only.
Updated: February 16, 2016 04:00 AM