One of Europe’s most famous luxury hotels has undergone such a face-lift that it is more a face transplant. Go into Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin and your mouth opens in amazement. Gone was the dark and Germanic front desk and concierge area that had been there since 1998. In its place is a light and airy theatre. Also, there is a lovely new MD, Matthias Al-Amiry, a would-be professional handball player who, following an accident when he was 18, diverted to hospitality through his love of people and travel (banking, he says, would have been just too boring).
The Jagdfeld family has been synonymous with this 383-room hotel for as long as most can remember. Originally, in 1998, the main designer was Ezra Attia, from London, with bedrooms by AB Living Design, from Stockholm. Now Jagdfeld Design is leading the transformation. The ballroom is next to receive the magic wand and I was lucky enough to see the renderings of future bedroom looks, which will add soft green or purple to the palette (why did designers ever think browns were attractive?). Apart from the colour scheme, as always, I loved room 518; a walk-through space from foyer to living-bedroom to bathroom, then toilet and foyer, or vice versa. Three pairs of French windows look down at Unter den Linden and to the left the Brandenburg Gate.
As always, I am addicted to this hotel’s divine breakfast, though it has moved from the ground floor Quarré, which now only serves lunch and dinner. Today, from the lobby, you take 28 aquamarine-carpeted stone steps, or a lift, up to the mezzanine that goes around the lobby and then sit at one of the crisp white tables right next to the parapet and you can see all the activity below. The small meeting room next to it is now the permanent breakfast buffet, with attendant chef. Add the luxury of the caviar and blini selection. There are half a dozen smoothie types, the cheeses and meats (and fish) that Germans love for breakfast, and stacks of glorious floral plates, surprisingly from the traditional china company Dibbern, which are sure to make you smile.
I smile at so many unique memories of this luxury hotel. In the morning, shoes returned after cleaning are set outside appropriate doors, in black fabric bags on white-lined black trays. Your newspapers hang outside your door in a shallow fabric bag from which you can easily extract your Financial Times and International New York Times without the least bit of a tussle.
Another big plus for staying in a great hotel is having a 24/7 concierge team. My trip coincided with the folks at Berlin’s Tegel Airport going on strike. I later heard stories of others taking cars, at €1200, to Hamburg Airport. The concierge team at Hotel Adlon Kempinski, via a colleague in Bremen, were able to get myself on a flight out of Hannover: they arranged a suitable train (a mere €118) to Hannover and drove me to Berlin’s hauptbahnhof in a Maybach. While I waited, a considerable baritone from the city’s Staatsoper was singing in the four-floor open concourse, his rich tones relayed to, and much appreciated by, the thousands of travellers hurrying this way and that, like a Lowry painting. I doubted that the concierge team at Hotel Adlon Kempinski arranged the concert, but for them nothing is impossible.
(Mary Gostelow travels over 300 days a year, doing one-night stands in top hotels around the world. Read her daily travelogue, www.girlahead.com)