The Ritz-Carlton Berlin opened in 2004 as part of the huge rebuilding of the Potsdamer Platz area, which included a Marriott hotel and also the Sony centre with its impressive Mount Fuji-inspired sloping roof. It has recently re-emerged from a three-year long €40 million renovation.
What’s it like?
You never forget the first time you see the buildings of Potsdamer Platz, with their plain exteriors and clean lines, a modern version of art deco that the hotel in its redesign has now brought inside.
It was always an elegant hotel, but for all the marble it was looking a little dated, particularly in the bars and public area. Not any more. G.A. Design has created a homely feel with nods to both the 1920s cinema scene and art deco, while remaining very modern. (It’s hard to find a hotel in Berlin that doesn’t reference the 1920s or Marlene Dietrich.)
The old chandelier has been removed from the lobby and instead there are multiple exploding globes, designed to remind you of the pop of flashbulbs from cameras, but also with the glass elements of the chandelier looking like Champagne flutes.
There is elegant furniture in the side seating area and also behind the marble staircase, and then recurring geometric patterns combine with a lit sculpture at the back of the lobby which is covered in the evening, the most obvious example of a night and day theme which runs throughout the hotel. The general colours are champagne gold and chrome with touches of grey, though the headboards in the rooms have some purple as well.
Service is superb – English-speaking with barely a trace of accent throughout the hotel, and all staff are smartly dressed and offer to help whenever you need it, walking you to wherever you are searching for and even walking out of the hotel to point out the entrance to the U Bahn station or the quickest way to the get to the Mall of Berlin for its great shopping, and interesting food mall on the top floor.
Where is it?
In Potsdamer Platz, on both the regional railway station, S-Bahn and U-Bahn station “Potsdamer Platz”, directly in front of the hotel entrance (U2, S1, S2, S25). The long-distance station “Hauptbahnhof”, is about five minutes away, Berlin-Tegel (TXL) 25 minutes by taxi and Berlin-Schönefeld (SXF) about 40 minutes away.
There are 303 rooms ranging from Deluxe Rooms (40 sqm) up to a 205 sqm Ritz-Carlton suite. The rooms all have the art deco theme with a small sofa, a minibar, a Nespresso coffee machine that comes out of the sideboard by opening the lid and then sliding out the tray – it’s a little like opening a trunk, and there is also a mini bar and the unavoidable paintings inspired by Marlene Dietrich (has anyone ever seen one of her films? I saw Orson Wells’ Touch of Evil, I suppose).
The full listing for the rooms is: 183 Deluxe Rooms (40 sqm), 28 Deluxe View Rooms (40 sqm), 19 Corner Deluxe Rooms (42 sqm), 15 Deluxe Suites (65 sqm), eight Carlton Club Suites (105 sqm), eight Corner Deluxe Suites (57 sqm), eight Junior Suites (50 sqm), the Ritz-Carlton Penthouse (285 sqm, and The Ritz-Carlton Suite (205 sqm).
The 32 Ritz-Carlton Club Rooms (40 sqm) on the 10th and 11th floors are available at roughly a €100 supplement and have access to the 11th floor Club Lounge.
Each room has a good-sized table, and in the arm of the sofa next to this table there’s a whole set of plugs and USB sockets (these are also either side of the bed). This is excellent, though note there are US plugs and EU plugs (of course), but no UK plugs. They obviously knew we were leaving Europe.
Sound proofing in the room is faultless, though one night I returned to the room and it had been through its evening turndown with the curtains drawn and chocolate by the side of the bed, yet was woken by drunks outside in the street (I was on the sixth floor). Eventually I got up to see what was going on and discovered that the large central window had been left open by someone (maybe a housemaid). The positive aspect is you can open the window and get fresh air.
All rooms have a separate shower and bath, and Italian marble – rose coloured in the basic rooms, but then white in higher category and black in the top categories (suites). On the top floor there is an apartment with bullet proof glass. Above that there are apartments making up the full height of the tower in which the hotel is located (it occupies the bottom eleven floors).
Food and drink
A good choice here. The strangely-named Pots restaurant refers both to Potsdamer Platz and the copper pots decorating the entrance, and an indication of the cuisine which is a a modern interpretation of German cuisine, inspired by three Michelin-starred chef Dieter Müller. Food is from Berlin and Brandenburg, as well as a German wine selection featuring over 200 choices.
The lobby lounge has a wide range of teas on offer, while there are two bars – Fragrances which is a cocktail bar, and only open in the evening, and the Curtain Club, which is larger and open through the day, although tactfully hidden behind a green curtain. Both are superb, and you could quite happily spend several hours in there, though obviously the wide range of drinks and cocktails come at a considerable price.
Fragrances cocktail bar is something special since the resident mixologist Arnd Heissen works with guests, using their preferred choice of scent (as in, what aftershave or perfume they wear) to create a bespoke cocktail for you, and if you wish, also tells you what it says about your personality – don’t worry, it’s always complimentary.
All luxury brands now talk about experiential travel, and how true luxury is always bespoke, and getting away from the Ritz-Carlton reputation of old – excellent, but a little robotic – Fragrances is a good example of where the brand is offering something very individual and fun.
All the meeting rooms are on the first floor (Beletage) up the main staircase. The ballroom can be split into three but in its full size can hold a banquet for 600. There are seven additional smaller rooms and the breakout areas all have natural light. The renovation saw Czech lighting designer Lasvit create large Bohemian glass lamps in striking shapes (a little like Swarovski ones). The hotel can also work with the neighbouring Marriott for larger events.
There is a small spa, pool and gym in the basement.
This is a very thoughtful renovation of the hotel and it’s a truly luxurious place to stay. I was very impressed with the service, and also the two bars and the restaurant.
The seamless service and attention to detail.
Having a cocktail in the Fragrances Bar, then relaxing in the Curtain Club to listen to some live music.
Potsdamer Platz 3, 10785 Berlin, Germany, +49(0)30-33 777 6026; ritzcarlton.com/berlin.