Berlin: Brandenburger Hof
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AddressEislebennerstraße 14t D-10789 Berlin , Germany +4930/214-050 brandenburger-hof.com/
Japanese Garden: At the heart of the hotel sits a small courtyard and Japanese garden planted with citrus trees and chirping with bird song. During the Christmas season, the space is outfitted with an 20-foot pine tree that glimmers with lights.
German Wine List: More than 80 percent of the 850 bottles available to guests were produced by German vintners, making the Brandenburger Hof the first hotel to feature a German-focused wine list.
Swinging Art: The hotel's main floor features several uniquely-designed dining rooms. The royal Prussian room is crowned with a lavish, teardrop-shaped chandelier and a series of paintings by the Spanish artist Salustiano. Each cherry-red canvas features a life-size portrait of a beguiling young woman perched on a swing—an image that captures the city's mysterious and whimsical side.
Homemade Honey: Last summer the hotel tried its hand at beekeeping, perching beehives on the roof. For 8.50 euro, guests can bring home a bottle of honey to remember their trip—just don't forget to pack it in your checked luggage!
- 72 garden facing rooms
- Die Quadriga restaurant
- Bathroom ascessories from 'Etro'
- Luxurious business lounge
- Jazz and cocktails in the Quadriga lounge
- Fitness Center
- Japanese Garden
THE VIBELocated on a unassuming sidestreet in the city's upscale, western district of Wilmersdorf, this five-star hotel strikes a balance between elegance and modernity. The rooms, which were converted from a 19th-century apartment built in the classic Bauhaus style (tall ceilings, lots of light, elegant moldings), are not oppresively plush, as they can be in other luxury hotels. Instead, their design skews minimalist and modern with sleek-but-soft platform beds, leather-upholstered furniture, and an eclectic art collection curated by proprietor Daniela Sauter. In-the-know guests snag a room with French doors that open over the leafy inner courtyard.
THE FOODBefore heading out for the day, begin with a serene breakfast: a perfectly-brewed cappucino and bread with local smoked whitefish and crème fraiche, or a sweet-tart slice of plum cake will fuel any morning adventures. In the evening, the hotel's celebrated in-house restaurant, Die Quadriga, run by chef Sebastian Völz, features inventive seasonal dishes like eel served with quince, chervil and red chard, and rib of beef with a mash of pumpkin, celariac and pancehtta. Finish things off with a night cap or a glass of German-made wine from the hotel's extensive in-house wine cellar. —Leah Koenig
In the AreaThe highlights below omit some of Berlin's best-known sights (Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, The Holocaust Memorial), as well as the city's edgier, artsy eastern districts—though all are worth visiting. They focus instead on the sophisticated charms of Berlin's west and central districts.
- Charlottenburg Palace: Berlin's largest palace is a sprawling, 17th-century structure filled with ornately decorated salons and ballrooms (many of which were badly damaged in World War II and then reconstructed). But it's most spectacular feature is the baroque-style gardens, ponds and wooded grounds that radiate out from the main building. Spend the afternoon parked on the grass along with throngs of picnicing families, joggers, and snuggling couples.Spandauer Damm 10-22, 14059 Berlin; +4930/320-910; www.spsg.de
- Manjellchen: This quaint, 28-year old restaurant is something of a neighborhood icon. Owner Ramona Azzaro can be found most nights working the two cozy dining rooms, schmoozing with regulars while her bustling staff serves up traditional East Prussian dishes like beetenbartsch (beet soup with beef), königsberger klopse (meatballs served in a caper-studded gravy) and a thick semolina pudding topped with stewed cherries and whipped cream. Mommsenstraße 9, 10629 Berlin ; +4930/883-2676; marjellchen-berlin.de
- Tiergarten Park: Berlin's answer to Central Park, this former royal hunting ground is now a 520-acre greenspace set in the city's center. Visit the in-park zoo, or stroll along the tree-shaded pathways towards the middle of the park, which houses the gilded Victory Column—a monument commemorating the Prussian victory in the 19th century Danish-Prussian War. Then refresh with a beer and a plate of cheesy spätzle noodles (or a slice of apple strudel and a particularly delicious hot chocolate) at the airy Café am Neuen See. Lichtensteinallee 2, 10787 Berlin +4930/254-4930; cafe-am-neuen-see.de
- Jüdische Mädchenschule: Located in the city's central district of Mitte, this historic brick building housed a Jewish girls' school before World War II. (It sits around the corner from the equally historic and equally visit-worthy Neue Synagogue. More recently, the school has been transformed into a multi-story haven for high-end art galleries and food: specifically the sophisticated, 1920s Berlin-inspired Pauly Saal, and Mogg & Melzer, a nouveau-Jewish delicatessen (think artisanal pastrami and New York-style cheesecake). Auguststraße 11-13, 10117 Berlin; maedchenschule.org
Leah Koenig is a freelance writer and author of The Hadassah Everyday Cookbook: Daily Meals for the Contemporary Jewish Kitchen (Rizzoli, 2011).