Orania.Berlin started life as an office building in 1913, with the Oranienpalast café on the ground floor renowned for its concerts and cabaret. The ensuing years saw it become shops, a restaurant, a billiard salon, and, in the most typical Berlin metamorphosis of all, a nightclub called Trash – in 1995, the same year it was registered as a national monument. Dietrich von Boetticher bought the building in 2008 and subsequently renovated it, after which it hosted events and exhibitions. In 2014 further renovation began, and it opened as Orania.Berlin in August 2017.
The hotel is located on the corner of Oranienplatz and Orianienstrasse in the perennially cool area of Kreuzberg in the east of the city. Kottbusser Tor metro is a five-minute walk, with the centre of the city around 20 minutes on public transport. Restaurants, bars and nightclubs meet green spaces and coffee shops in this artsy part of town, which despite increasing gentrification still wears its alternative past with pride.
What’s it like?
On a street that doesn’t want for smart period architecture, Orania manages to stand out as one of the grandest buildings, enjoying prime position on the corner of a leafy square. Windows cover almost every inch of the exterior, particularly on the ground floor; on a cold winter’s day in November the glimpse into the interior is tantalising.
Inside, the look in the cosy yet uncluttered open-plan ground floor – part living room, part bar, part restaurant – is best described as luxury ski chalet meets the orient, with its rich autumnal palette alone enough to warm the cockles. And if that doesn’t, two open fires will.
Burnished metal lighting and textured wall coverings, including tactile African tree bark, add layers of interest, while elephant motifs figure throughout; an exotic counterpoint to the film noir of the night-time streets outside when I arrive.
The hotel has 41 rooms and suites, ranging from the smallest at 17 sqm up to the Orania Loft at 354 sqm, which takes up the entire top floor and comes with its own bar and kitchen (this is also available for hire as a meeting space).
I’m staying in the Orania 50 (50 sqm), one of the junior suites. Step through the door and you’re in a walk-in wardrobe, with more storage space than you could ever possibly need. A Nespresso coffee machine is located in here, as is the minibar.
Into the room proper, and two vast arched windows provide views out to Orienenplatz and allow in plenty of light, with a wide ledge and cushions so guests can take full advantage of the opportunity for people watching. Unusually high ceilings further enhance the sense of space.
The rich colour scheme seen downstairs is continued via fabrics and rugs, against a backdrop of neutral off whites and natural wood flooring. Deeper charcoal shades define the living area, formed of a sofa (a sofa bed) and armchair set around a coffee table, with a desk in the corner equipped with several plug sockets (European and USB). The 49-inch TV is positioned between this part of the room and bed areas, so it can be angled depending on where you want to watch it.
The super-king bed looks particularly inviting, with an extravagant wood framed upholstered headboard bearing the elephant motif. In keeping with German custom there are two duvets – eliminating the prospect of a mid-sleep tussle for the covers. It’s deeply comfortable. More power points are conveniently beside the bed.
The bathroom is a lovely space, with a large freestanding tub, which encourages soaking until fingers become prunes, while both the toilet and shower are separated from the rest of the room by doors. Only the bigger suites have a bath as well as a shower.
Wifi is free throughout the hotel.
Food and drink
The bar and restaurant are on the ground floor, separated from each other by a flowing curtain with rainbow stripes. The bar is a gorgeous place for a drink, with an open fire, Steinway piano (jazz gigs regularly take place in here) and comfortable furniture in a harmonious mix of styles.
Seats at the well-stocked bar are great for solo diners who want a little something from a menu of sophisticated spins on Berlin classics – the Klopsdog (a delicious hot dog with veal sausage, beetroot, capers and crunchy potato) my companion orders is gone almost before it arrives. The head barman, Merlin, does a mean Negroni with his own twist.
The four-course Xberg duck was one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time – Vogel has installed a Peking duck oven in the kitchen (he worked in China for a period). The menu comprises a duck broth with dumpling – its depth of flavour provoked exclamations upon each slurp – crisp duck-skin in fat, soft pancakes; duck breast served with pak choi; and an elegant spin on fried rice with chopped duck thigh.
Breakfast is served in the restaurant, too. Alongside a buffet of fruit, pastries, bread, etc, is a menu of a la carte dishes, with a few unexpected offerings. The Okonomiyaki is not to be missed – a thick, batter-like pancake topped with Chinese cabbage, ham, sesame and ponzu sauce. Rooms including breakfast cost around €23 more.
On the top floor of the building is the Salon, which offers meeting space for up to 100 people, with a kitchen, bar, Steinway piano and views from the balcony.
There is a 24-hour gym with equipment including three treadmills, two bikes and a cross trainer. Concerts, readings and film screenings also take place at the hotel and are open to both guests and locals.
Run by husband and wife Philipp (MD and chef) and Jennifer Vogel (hotel manager), Orania.Berlin has a personal, cared-for air, supplementing its contemporary sophistication, that makes guests feel at home; it’s a refreshing alternative to many more corporate offerings. I found it difficult to leave, and whether you spend the night here or not, the bar and restaurant are an essential stop if you’re in town.
- Best for Design-led interiors that don’t sacrifice style for soul
- Don’t miss The beautiful bar and restaurant – particularly the Xberg duck set menu
- Contact Oranienstrasse 40; 10999 Berlin-Kreuzberg; +49 (0) 30 695 396 80; orania.berlin