Wilmina Hotel

Charlottenburg, Berlin, Germany
Book from GBP Book from £127 per night

Wilmina Hotel

Charlottenburg, Berlin, Germany

A former women's prison turned chic urban sanctuary, with courtyard gardens, innovative restaurant, rooftop pool and contemplative rooms

A former women's prison turned chic urban sanctuary, with courtyard gardens, innovative restaurant, rooftop pool and contemplative rooms

Tucked away behind a nondescript façade in the old West Berlin district of Charlottenburg, this former women’s prison has been transformed into a truly breathtaking space. Its beauty slowly unfolds as you cross a pair of enchantingly wild courtyards – rampant with wild flowers and climbing ferns – to reach the five-storey red-brick building. Inside, the architect-owners have completed an inspirational 11-year restoration, bringing light and love back into the historic walls. There’s a lofty glass-roofed atrium with eye-catching light installations like astral bubbles; a new penthouse level with sumptuous suites, a rooftop terrace and open-air lapping pool; and an atmospheric restaurant with an exquisite menu showcasing local and regional produce.

And there’s more: a lovely library, an innovative cocktail bar plus a daybar in the leafy summer garden, a sauna and gym, and 44 minimally chic rooms and suites – all of which have their own contemplative charm. Throughout, there runs an astonishing attention to detail and quality. Youthful staff are passionate but never pushy. Sink some balls in the billiard room, grab a free drink from the honesty bar, borrow a bike to explore the amazing cultural variety of Kantstrasse. Wilmina is unlike any other hotel in Berlin, and we loved it.

Highs

  • Architecture, design and history buffs will love how the building’s turbulent history is reflected in the new spaces
  • All bedrooms – from the cocooning Cosy’s to the light-flooded Penthouse Suites – have their own appeal
  • The buffet breakfast is awesome, packed with innovative homemade local delicacies
  • Wilmina’s owners are designer-architects – you can see it in every detail – and their staff are some of the best around
  • You’re only half an hour from central Berlin's hotspots, but you feel a world away from everything here

Lows

  • Bedrooms, housed in former cells, offer a simple, pared-down comfort (which we enjoyed)
  • The west of Berlin is a bit more sedate than the buzzier east, but Kantstrasse itself is very multi-cultural and characterful

Best time to go

Berlin is full of life and culture, and vibrant at any time of year. Winters are colder than the UK, summers a bit warmer (you can swim the Spree or the nearby lakes), while autumn brings colour to the city's many parks and woods. Berlin can get busy during the big fairs (such as ITB in March), the annual Festival of Lights in October, and the Christmas markets (late November and December). In late August, if you're lucky, you might coincide with the Long Night of Museums, when over 70 spaces stay open until 2am or later, creating a real buzz.

Our top tips

The area around Wilmina is brimming with exotic eateries, from Korean to Indian to Vietnamese, as well as traditional Berlin cafés and Kneipen (pubs). Right outside the hotel is Hedayat, a Persian café-cum-bookshop; a little further along, we had a great meal at the popular Vietnamese brasserie Madame Ngo (book ahead). As you wander towards Savignyplatz, the vibe moves from grittier to prettier – not as glitzy as Ku’damm, but full of colour.

Great for...

City Style
Eco
Foodie
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 44 rooms & suites
  • Restaurant (open Tue-Sat), cafe (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • Beach Nearby
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Car not necessary
  • Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • WiFi
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available
Room:

Rooms

You sleep in the former prison cells – but you’d never guess. Everything oozes calm, understated comfort. Some rooms combine two cells, some three, others are in a new penthouse extension; but all are full of light and warmth, with carefully chosen artworks and sparse beautiful furnishings. Nothing is superfluous here.

Entry-level Cosy rooms are compact (11 sq.m.) – better for single travellers or shorter stays – but very cocooning. We loved climbing onto the raised platform bed. They combine two cells – one for the bedroom, the other for the bathroom – with partly barred windows as a nod to the history.

Classic rooms are larger at 14-19 sq.m. – most were made by merging three cells – with kingsize beds and bigger windows to create a bright monastic ambiance. Some can combine with a Cosy to make a family suite. Others (dubbed Extended) have an extra sofabed behind a sliding door, perfect for a child or teenager .

Garden View rooms look – generally through two large windows – onto leafy courtyards with dappled shade. We love the delicately framed pressed flowers in these (and all) rooms.

Super-spacious Penthouse Suites (25-35 sq.m.) are housed in the new fifth floor (don’t worry, there’s a lift) with floor to ceiling windows, and views over the hotel’s courtyards or living rooftops. Metallic-gauze drapes keep them private, and cast a shimmering light within. You get a sitting area with pendant lights and a kettle with delicious cleansing teas.

If you’re staying a while, book the Garden Loft – a fully-fledged apartment – with open-plan kitchen-dining-sitting area (fridge, dishwasher, microwave – but no stove) and access from the garden via a private staircase.

All rooms have a Cocomat bed, slimline TV, safe, workspace, fast WiFi and a rain shower (or, in some suites, a tub) with Frama toiletries.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Safe box
  • WiFi

Eating

Reached through an aquarium-like passage, Lovis restaurant is housed a high-ceilinged, red-brick space with atmospheric eco-lighting, minimalist Zen tableware and garden views. When we visited on a Tuesday evening, it was buzzing with locals – always a good sign.

Chef Sophia Rudolph, who trained under Alain Ducasse, has created a modern German cuisine with French (and further-flung) touches: Teutonic perfection meets Gallic indulgence, if you will. The highly curated menu (typically 3-5 mains) is seasonal, hyper-local and always revelatory. Think mushroom ravioli in Szechuan jus, rhubarb salad with fennel and lime, then roasted guinea fowl supreme or dry aged German entrecotê. My confit egg yolk, meadow mushroom and salted lemon jus was simply sublime. Portions are small, perfectly measured and impeccably arranged on Zen earthenware plates: not for lovers of Bratwurst and Sauerkraut!

Afterwards, check out the innovative cocktail list which is divided into taste groups – such as damson-almond-smoky, or pear-coriander-herbs – so you can see what tickles your buds and let the brilliant mixologist work his alchemy. My cherry-caramel-sumac concoction was divine, and bartender Nils had even picked and infused the cherry himself.

For lighter fare and healthy snacks (and a good vegetarian and vegan selection), coffee, chai latte and aperitifs head to the Lotta daybar (open 1100-1800 daily) in the summer garden across the serene inner courtyard, (you can also find it via separate entrance on Pestalozzistrasse). And we hear an onsite bakery is opening soon offering top quality bread and pastries.

Breakfast – like everything in this hotel – is a bit special. Don’t expect a groaning buffet of croissants and omelettes; instead a curated seasonal spread of quirky and delicious dishes is laid out in the hotel library. We savoured homemade peach and plum jam, chocolate-cardamom spread, white kidney bean hummus, pumpkin and ginger compote, Bircher muesli, regional cheeses, smoked trout and more besides. You won’t go hungry.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian options
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Explore nearby Lietzensee park (10 mins’ walk away), stopping for lunch at Engelbecken for classic German and Austrian cuisine
  • Soak up Berlin’s royal past in the gardens of beautiful Charlottenburg Palace, 10 mins’ cycle away on one of the hotel’s bikes
  • Soak in the views from Wilmina's rooftop pool or lose yourself in the jungle-like gardens
  • Wander down Kantstrasse – the vibe moves from grittier to prettier – to Bleibtreustrasse for quirky boutiques and bookshops; plus funky art galleries around Savignyplatz
  • Just beyond are the iconic KaDeWe department store, the evocative stained-glass Kaiser-Wilhelm Memorial Church, and the endless green park of Zoo-Tiergarten
  • Berlin’s main highlights – Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag, the big museums - are half an hour by S Bahn (Charlottenburg station is 7 mins’ walk away); or you could cycle in a similar time

Kids

Children are welcome and will enjoy the gardens. Babies and toddlers can sleep in their parents' bed for free; otherwise, most rooms can fit a cot – or in some cases an extra bed – for a charge. Children up to 6 breakfast for free.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

All rooms except Cosy rooms can fit a baby cot. Classic (Extended) rooms and Penthouse Suites have sofa beds which can take a child up to 16 years old. If travelling as a family of 4, some Classic rooms can interconnect with Cosy rooms to make a 2 bedroom suite; book one of each and, in your message, request a connecting pair.

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available

Baby equipment:

  • High chair
  • Baby cots

    Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

    Kids Activities on site:

  • Board games
  • Billiard room (pool table)

    Families Should Know:

    Kids have to be supervised by the parents in the public areas. Note that the pool is not for children.

  • Distances:

    • Shops: 1 minute
    Kid Friendly:

    Location

    Wilmina Hotel is in the Charlottenburg district of west Berlin, on Kantstrasse. Charlottenburg station (S-Bahn) is 7 mins’ walk away.

    By Air:
    Fly to Berlin Brandenburg – now the city's only airport – and take the S-bahn, RB (Regionalbahn) or FEX (express) to Charlottenburg (45-60 mins). Or you could take a taxi to the hotel (30-45 mins' driving time).

    By Train from UK:
    Daytime trains from London St Pancras via Brussels and Cologne take 10-11 hours; or you can take an overnight sleeper train leaving London mid-afternoon. See Seat 61 for details.

    By Car:
    There is no point in having a car in Berlin, but if hiring a car for your onward journey, see our car rental recommendations.

    Detailed instructions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com.

    Airports:

    • Berlin Brandenburg 25.0 km BER

    Other:

    • Beach 200.0 km
    • Shops 0.1 km
    • Restaurant 0.1 km

    Our guests' ratings...

    Based on 2 independent reviews from i-escape guests

    10/10
    Room
    10/10
    Service
    10/10
    Value
    10/10
    Overall

    {{ review.rating }}/10, ,

    Rates for Wilmina Hotel

    Arriving on: