Without reading a couple of books and watching maybe some more movies, it's hard to imagine how Potsdamer Platz in Berlin used to look nothing far but 30 years ago: a depressive no-man's land, just another picture of the Cold War. After the reunification of Berlin, it grew up as one of the most modernist areas of the city, with sky scrapers - something not that common in Berlin and in Germany in general. Behind the remains of the Berlin Wall and some futuristic architecture, there is hiding another hidden secret of the city: The Ritz-Carlton, one of the two hotels from the chain. Only ten years older, it equals in elegance and beauty the first ever Ritz founded in Germany, the one from Wolfsburg, that I visited a couple of months ago.
My journey at The Ritz-Carlton started with a delicious afternoon tea, improving my knowledge about green teas while enjoying delicious bites of perfect pastry and cakes.
My passionate guide through the world of teas for the day, Hernan Caballero, has another great talent: drawing and following the tradition of The Ritz-Carlton, his talents were encouraged and introduced to the visitors of the famous bar. His maps listing the geography of various drinks in the countries around the world are proudly showed on the tables. And he is not the only one here whose individual talents are recognized, as the hotel also used recently the greeting cards designed by one of the apprentices.
It's not time for the champagne brunch at Brasserie Debrosses, but paying a visit around is an interesting experience, at least from the architectural point of view. It reunites the old French brasserie style - the floor is originally brought from an old 1874 French Brasserie with the same name - and the old former communist Germany influences in the furniture. The food served is French though. During the summer, the outside terrasse is an invitation to stop but not for too long, as there are so many shopping and cultural temptations around - almost most of the interesting top attractions of the city, from the Brandenburg Gate to the Tierpark are within minutes of walk from the hotel.
But not only the adults are invited to enjoy their time in luxury: special programs for kids are offered all round the year, besides special presents given upon checking-in, like polo shirts with their name on it. There is a chocolate festival for them and various cooking classes only for them - like waffle baking, as well as a special cocktails and afternoon tea programs. Wish there were such options when I was a child; probably I would have discover the pleasures of the afternoon tea much earlier. In addition, scavenger hunts or special tours of the hotel are also part of the regular menu for the smallest visitors. In the rooms, they will be waited by special beds and maybe some bed covers with their special cartoon characters.
Meanwhile, the adults can enjoy the latest add to The Ritz: the Fragrances bar where special cocktails are prepared based on perfume recipes. Just think about your favourite famous perfume and soon you will taste it! As for now, there are around 15 cocktails available, based on recipes whose ingredients were tested enough to produce an unexpected pleasant surprise for the palate.
Out of many other temptations, I would love to be back to try the Yuzu Watermelon, based on sake and lemon and watermelon syrup. Don't worry about asking an overdraft soon. One cocktail can be as cheap as 14 Eur. And you taste it from the lounge of The Ritz-Carlton...
The works of art, mostly created by German artists, are there to add another layer of distinguished ambiance to the other layers of educated pleasure.
The interior design inspiration, a project made by Peter Silling, was inspired by the work of the famous Berlin architect Schinkel, whose signature is visible in most of the civil architecture of the classical Berlin. The glittering of the Swarovski chandelier and the mysterious corners of light are the modern translation of some old school classical principles.
The lobby avoids extravagance for the elegance of style. When you arrive from the colourful joyous yet noisy outside, you might think that you arrived in your private universe of luxury. However, behind the closed doors of the many hotel offices, people are behaving in the most responsible possible ways allowed by the 21st century. The energy used is green, out of the recycled paper used in the offices, around 5,000 school books were made and donated to a school in Wedding. Almost 65% of the vegetables used by the restaurant are produced at the field owned by the hotel in Mecklenburg Pommern. The own beehives are producing nothing less than around 300 kg. of organic honey every year. And the examples of sustainable luxury could continue...
For a short moment, you can relax and think that you can spend here the rest of your stay in Berlin. Why not, you even have some Berlin Wall Memorabilia, some horrible grey concrete monsters laying on the polished floor. Another example that the Ritz-Carlton is not afraid to face the daily realities is the special open doors program organized a couple of months ago, when the Berlin citizens were invited to have a tour of the hotel. Maybe only few of them will ever be able to afford to every pay around 14,500 EUR/night for a stay at the luxury hotel suite, but at least they will be able once in a while to make some savings for an afternoon tea. Going out of your comfort zone is always a good challenge to take once in a while.
Regardless of your plan, this hotel can be the best place to start new beginnings. In your life, for instance! What about an unforgettable wedding photo made on those white marble stairs? If you already married, at least you can try an extravagant selfie. If you rather like the 'old style', there is a photo booth in the lobby, where your photos are issued with a personalised logo of the hotel.
For the very special guests, as the US president Barack Obama, a guest of the hotel, high-end privacy and security can be offered. As in the case of other hotels from the chains, there are different levels of privacy offered, the basic being offered at the club from the 10th floor.
Basically, there is a hotel inside the hotel, with its own reception, lobby, meeting room, as well as other kitchen facilities.
There, you can have your meals with an overview over Tiergarten and the modern architecture of the Western Berlin. Enough to want to finish your meal now, make your business meetings as successful as possible and just run out to know the city. What about a jogging trail through the Tiergarten, based on the advice of the specialists of the hotel?
The Ritz-Carlton has 303 guest rooms, out of which 39 suites and a presidential suite. Add to this the banquet and meeting space, as well as the high-end facilities offered at the spa. For the highest security area, there is double access and other special facilities.
The good taste and simple elegance are the predominant feature of the rooms. From the decorated walls, till the match between the furniture and the carpet, there is hard to find any failures.
Suites can have 2 bedrooms, bedside control panels, in-room Internet and various luxury amenities. The customers also have access all round the day to the swimming pool and the fitness space.
There are also heated bathroom floors and a very inviting sauna, just two stairs away. What if?
But it's about time to end my adventurous trip in the world of cocktail fragrances, green teas and marble ceilings. There is time for the opening call of the gentlemen's club too. Good bye, good life! Welcome back to the real life of Berlin!
Disclaimer: I was offered a free tour of the hotel, but the opinions are, as usual, my own.
For more images from The Ritz-Carlton, have a look at the dedicated Pinterest board: http://www.pinterest.com/ilanaontheroad/the-ritz-carlton-berlin/