Hotel Zoo: Berlin’s coolest design hotel
While much of the attention to tourism in Berlin in recent years has focused on the city centre and the development of the eastern part of the city that was the former East Berlin, the western part of the German capital has maintained its status as the most exclusive area of the city for shopping, dining, staying, and living. Though the splendid attractions of central Berlin are certainly worthwhile, visits to the stellar collections found on Museum Island, to the famous TV tower, and to the newly chic residential neighbourhoods popping up in the east should definitely be supplemented by some time in the western part of the city.
The allure of Western Berlin’s main boulevard, Kurfürstendamm, has continued to increase since the fall of the Berlin Wall and still serves as the main shopping street for those seeking the absolute best from the world’s fashion designers, homewares makers, and even high-end automobile manufacturers. Between the retailers are numerous cafés and restaurants. Located among the grand buildings is Hotel Zoo, named for the nearby Zoological Garden that was the centre of West Berlin during the city’s decades-long separation. In its German pronunciation, Zoo rhymes with know, and those in the know know to go to Zoo for a stay at what is certainly the most stylish hotel in the city. Its 144 rooms and suites are always in high demand, especially during the Berlinale, the annual event that brings the stars to Berlin for the International Film Festival as well as the producers, directors, and other cinema executives who come to the festival to attend to business at the European Film Market. In a clever salute to the world of celebrity, Hotel Zoo’s lifts are humorously decorated as if guests are walking the red carpet amid the flashes of paparazzi cameras. The flashes only happen on the way up, because no one wants to take your picture when you are on the way down.
The lift is located across a voluminous lobby that serves as the chic living room for the property, which was indeed a private residence when first built in the late nineteenth century. The avant garde artwork and high style of the furniture immediately convey the specialness of the place, already indicated by the friendly welcome of the Reception staff and dazzling smile of the hardworking Dieter who greets guests upon their arrival at Hotel Zoo, a member of Design Hotels. The groundfloor bar is one of the favourite places to be seen by the Beautiful People of Berlin; its summertime counterpart on the hotel’s roof serves the same purpose during the time of year when less clothing is required.
Upstairs, the rooms and suites are no less impressive. Spacious and well appointed, they also smell really good thanks to the light but effusive fragrance that permeates the entire hotel. The top accommodation at Hotel Zoo, simply called Suite, is a gorgeous, apartmentlike suite that combines lush interior design with nostalgic touches such as a phonograph to play the vinyl records on the shelf. From the sweet sound of silence in the quiet bedrooms to the pleasant texture of jacquard towels in the bathrooms, no sense is left unstimulated at Hotel Zoo. The palate is amply pleased with a meal in Grace, the hotel’s elegant restaurant where the blend of relaxed friendliness and polished professionalism among the staff is a perfect complement to the appealing menu and sublime surroundings.
Now that Scoot has begun service between Singapore and Berlin, it has never been easier for travellers from the Asia-Pacific region to reach Berlin and the sights of Germany and Central Europe. The money saved with Scoot’s low fares can be applied to the enjoyment of a stay at Hotel Zoo.