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Berlin's Creative Side

There’s no other city quite like Berlin. When the two halves of the city were reunited in 1989, the rush to repopulate and redevelop the impoverished East created an urban-renewal experiment the likes of which nobody had ever seen. “Poor but sexy,” the famous description coined by Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit, became a rallying cry for every creative industry that depends on affordable real estate — which is all of them, really, but perhaps none more so than hospitality. Now, nearly three decades on, the former East Berlin has an incredibly diverse and impressive selection of hotels. Here are ten of the best.

Hotel De Rome
Mitte
Hotel De Rome

Formerly the GDR’s central bank, this impressive neoclassical edifice is far more enjoyable in its new life as a Rocco Forte hotel. Already one of our highest-rated hotels in Berlin, it’s found a way to edge ahead of the competition: as of this week, the Hotel de Rome now offers upgrades and special privileges to Tablet Plus members.

Gorki Apartments
Mitte
Gorki Apartments

A different approach is taken by Gorki Apartments, a collection of 36 fully serviced, fully equipped flats that are as comfortable as any five-star hotel room, and as stylish and low-key as the apartment-share of your dreams. The neighborhood, these days, is as hip as can be — right down to the semi-ironic Russian café that handles the hotel’s breakfast.

Michelberger Hotel
Friedrichshain
Michelberger Hotel

If there’s one hotel on this list that sums up the spirit of this article’s title, it’s this one. Too many stylish hotels pitch themselves to the creative class, and then price themselves too high for their intended audience to afford — but the Michelberger is pure rock and roll, and its organic, slightly ramshackle charm perfectly exemplifies today’s East Berlin.

Casa Camper Berlin
Mitte
Casa Camper Berlin

This stretch of Weinmeisterstraße has whole-heartedly embraced Western capitalism, and it’s the most natural environment for a boutique hotel that’s a spin-off of a Spanish footwear retailer. You could imagine Camper taking less care with their hotel than with their shoes, but you’d be mistaken — this place is for real.

The Dude
Mitte
The Dude

Say what you will about proprietor Alexander Schmidt-Vogel’s “indie” approach to hospitality — it may swim somewhat against the tide in today’s heavily branded design-hotel world, but at least it’s an ethos. The fact that the hotel’s restaurant is a steakhouse called The Brooklyn should tell you most of what you need to know.

Linnen
Eberswalder Straße
Linnen

In the Nineties, Prenzlauer Berg was a haven for artists, and though it’s long been gentrified, there’s still an independent streak running through it. The five-room Linnen is a perfect example — whether you think of it as an urban inn, a serviced apartment, or a home-stay with a little extra privacy, it’s clear it’s anything but a typical hotel.

Boutique Hotel i31
Mitte
Boutique Hotel i31

Fittingly for a hotel right smack in the heart of Mitte (meaning middle), the i31 is the Goldilocks of this collection — tasteful, comfortable, user-friendly, and with a location that’s just about as convenient as can be. In other words, it’s just right — and if you’re reading this, you know that’s no small achievement for a boutique hotel.

Batu Karang Lembongan Resort
Köpenicker Strasse
Catalonia Berlin Mitte

Only in East Berlin would you find a hotel like the Catalonia, business in the back, party in the front — to judge by the rooms, it’s a sedate, relatively conservative business-oriented hotel, but one with the colorful artwork and buzzing lobby scene of a dance-all-night boutique hotel. It’s a case of when in Rome….

Nhow Berlin
Friedrichshain
Nhow Berlin

From the Spree it’s unmistakable, thanks to Sergei Tschoban’s whimsically cantilevered blocks. And from inside it’s pure Eastside creativity, a riot of color and curves by the inimitable Karim Rashid. And in case it’s not already just too Berlin to be true, the Nhow comes with not one but two recording studios on the premises.

Cosmo Hotel Berlin Mitte
Mitte
Cosmo Hotel Berlin Mitte

And finally, maybe it’s a sign of things to come, of a newfound maturity in East Berlin’s hotel scene: a hotel that makes a virtue of subtlety. It’s Cosmo as in cosmopolitan, not cosmos — instead of space-age modernism you’ll find a refined, quietly luxe, totally contemporary hotel, within walking distance of most everything south of the Spree, and an easy U-Bahn hop from most everything else.

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