The five-star Waldorf Astoria Berlin opened earlier this year. // © 2013 Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts
It’s easy to feel nostalgic when sipping a cappuccino at Peacock Alley, the oh-so-retro lobby bar at the Waldorf Astoria Berlin. With its oval shape, black marble columns and tasteful art deco furnishings, Peacock Alley was designed to give guests a sense of place and make them feel as if they somehow stumbled onboard an elegant 1930s-era cruise ship.
“Peacock Alley was the name of the corridor connecting the original Waldorf Hotel in New York to its sister property The Astoria,” explained Maksim Ryshkov, manager of the hotel’s Library, a private guest lounge and business center. “For the influential, wealthy and glamorous people of the day, this became the place to meet and be seen, and the tradition lives on at the Waldorf Astoria Berlin.”
Indeed, tradition is a focal point of the West Berlin property, which opened its doors to guests in January of this year. Featuring 232 guestrooms and suites, the hotel sits within the Zoofenster skyscraper, designed by renowned German architect, Professor Christoph Mäckler. Guestrooms and public places were designed by Parisian agency, Inter Art Etudes, and reflect a contemporary interpretation of art deco style.
The new flagship Waldorf Astoria continues the theme of the ’20s and ’30s by paying homage to the city’s once famous Romanisches Cafe — a local haunt for the intelligentsia of the early 20th century that was destroyed in World War II. At the hotel’s version of the Romanisches Cafe, guests can grab a quick coffee and a slice of homemade cake or enjoy a light dinner on the outdoor terrace that overlooks Kantstrasse and the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. Jazz music and a collection of books about the artists and philosophers who frequented the original patisserie help set the mood.
Film buffs will feel right at home in the hotel’s upscale Lang Bar. Fritz Lang, the Austrian director behind the 1927 silent film, “Metropolis,” served as inspiration, and the bar’s subtle references to cinema add charm. Here, guests munch on truffle-salted popcorn while sampling barrel-aged cocktails and classics created at the original Waldorf hotel, including the Charlie Chaplin.
Rather than looking back in time, the crown jewel of the Waldorf Astoria Berlin’s food and beverage scene is focused on the future. Perhaps it’s the cart of champagne paraded by the staff or the menu that confounds guests with its creativity, but there is no doubt that Les Solistes by Pierre Gagnaire captures the zeitgeist of foodie culture. The menu is bold (foie gras marbled with dried fig and Mosel jelly, lobster ice cream, spinach marshmallows, creamy morel mushrooms with coffee), and a staff of food geeks reveal the story behind each dish with enthusiasm. There’s even a sommelier who pairs wines based on the guest’s personality. It seems that it’s only a matter of time before Pierre Gagnaire picks up yet another Michelin Star.
Whether it was intentional or not, the Waldorf Astoria Berlin’s cutting-edge cuisine, thoughtful design and powerful brand image have helped re-establish the neighborhood of West Berlin and encouraged a number of new businesses — from galleries and concept stores to fine dining restaurants and hotels — to set up shop nearby. As luck would have it, Berlin’s intelligentsia have a new hangout.