“Well-priced, well-placed and wonderfully weird: a budget hotel whose artist-created rooms are a gallery of quirky design”
Built around a typical Berlin interior courtyard, the 4-storey neoclassical palais housed the legendary actors' club Die Möwe in GDR days, then a bohemian Künstlerheim (artists' retreat) post-Wall, before being gutted and rebuilt in the 1990s. Nowadays expect friendly young staff, stairwells inscribed with philosophical quotations, and cost-price drinks from the vending machine. A vaulted restaurant next door serves breakfast (and other meals). Turn right - across the Spree - and you're at the Reichstag in 5 minutes, or the Brandenburg Gate in 10.
- A prime location: you can walk to all the main sites, you're near the river Spree to catch a boat to Museum Island if you prefer
- We loved the rooms, which are quirky and humorous without being uncomfortable (all have excellent mattresses)
- There are rates to suit all pockets, from shared-bathroom singles to 2-room suites
- The Tegel airport JetExpress bus stops 1 minute away, so if you're coming for a weekend you can minimise travel time
- The arty rooms vary hugely, and are very much a matter of taste
- The rear wing rooms look directly - and I mean directly - onto the Friedrichstrasse station railway line; the windows do their Teutonic best, but some rumbling is inevitable
- No food is served on-site, but there's a restaurant next door and more close by
- Not all rooms have an ensuite bathroom, some share a shower room down the hall
Best time to go
Our top tips
In summer, sit by the River Spree and take a dip in one of the bankside 'pools' (some of these operate in winter too… heated, thankfully).”
- Boutique Hotel
- No meals served (restaurants nearby)
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Bicycles Available
The art rooms are what makes this place special: each is totally unique. Hats off to the artists - most young, local and upcoming - who each spent months turning fairly nondescript cubes into weird and wonderful worlds-of-their-own, all in return for free lodging and a (small) percentage of the revenue. Every 3-5 years they get to reimagine the room in accord with their own artistic journey.
Among our favourites were zebra-striped #101 (Three Women in Red) by Elvira Bach, with its 4-metre ceilings and trio of salacious nudes. We also liked #522, an installation about Marilyn Monroe. Trainspotters might like #305 (Next Station), transformed into an 'S-bahn lounge' complete with original '60s furniture. Even the smallest rooms are interesting: #313 is an invitation to A Collective Story - you are free to add your own history to the walls.
In the rear wing, the newer rooms are well equipped and carefully styled, with top-notch shower rooms. They may lack the ceiling height of the historical building’s lower floor rooms, but they have excellent triple glazing to combat the S-bahn railway just outside. Room #413 (Stellwerk Thiel) makes the most of this, with an in-your-face observation seat and other-worldly locomotive portraits.
Note that some of the cheaper double and single rooms share a shower and toilet in the hallway. Rooms in the historical building are accessed by the philosopher's staircase only, while the new wing has an elevator.
- Air conditioning
- CD player
- Central heating
- Cots Available
- DVD player
- Extra beds
The hotel does not serve food, but you’re in central Berlin, so you won’t be short of options.
Neighbouring restaurant, Habel Weinkultur serves a breakfast buffet, but feedback is mixed. For convenience though, it's a winner. It's also a popular lunch and dinner venue for businessmen and politicians, who nip over from the Reichstag. Choose from a set menu (anything from classic Berlin to French); or a buffet ranging from Italian minestrones to Scandinavian seafood, plus good German fare such as smoked pork in caraway reduction or smoked fish.
For a flashy alternative, pre-book breakfast at the rooftop Kaefer restaurant, atop Norman Foster's Reichstag dome (5 minutes' walk away). Not only does it offer bird's eye views and beautifully presented fare, but eating here allows you to sidestep the dome’s often lengthy queues. Other options within a 5-minute walk include Die Berliner Republic and Brechts.
- Restaurants nearby
- The Reichstag Dome (5 mins' walk), a stunning glass-and-mirror construction by Norman Foster, with a double helix walkway taking you to one of the best viewpoints over the city (beware long queues on summer mornings)
- The Brandenburg Gate (10 mins), the ceremonial and history-steeped archway which marks the start of the broad thoroughfare of Unter den Linden (Berlin's epicentre)
- Museum Island (15 mins), now a Unesco World Heritage Site, which brings together such a wealth of historical art and artefacts that it would take a week to do justice to all the collections: the Pergamon (Near and Middle East art and architecture), Bode (sculptures, Byzantine art, coins), Alte Nationalgalerie (Classical-Romantic paintings) and the Altes and Neues Museum (respectively antiques and pre-history)
- The Gendarmenmarkt (20 mins), a lovely open square with the tall twin domes of the French and German churches, as well as a concert hall and one of the city's many Christmas markets
- The Berlin Philharmonic Hall (20 mins / bus ride) where you can hear world-class classical music, sometimes conducted by Sir Simon Rattle
- Checkpoint Charlie (3 U-bahn stops), the famous crossing between east and west sides of the city pre-1990, now the site of a small private museum and with a new panorama room giving a 360-degree viewpoint
- The Jewish Museum (3 U-bahn stops), which aims to shock visitors both with its off-kilter Daniel-Libeskind architecture (zigzagging lines and leaning verticals) and with its exhibits (including a dark shaft in which visitors are temporarily 'imprisoned')
- Prenzlauer Berg (a short bus or train ride), a bohemian neighbourhood with funky cafés and Bierhallen in the evening
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Boat trips
- Historical sites
- Museums / galleries
- Shopping / markets
Children of all ages are welcome, but this is not a great place for families. That said, the hotel is very usefully sited for an older child or teen with an interest in history.
Family friendly accommodation:
Only Double Superior Room #212 (Bildstörung) can take two extra beds. It's on the second floor of the original building, and has a bathtub as well as a shower. Baby cots are available to borrow.