One of Europe’s most important cultural hubs, the pull of Berlin for anyone creative is powerful indeed.
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, low rents in the German capital have attracted wave upon wave of artists, designers and musicians, generating a sense of energy, excitement and creative possibilities that few cities can match.
So whether you're attracted by the galleries, the graffiti or the annual Festival of Lights, where the city's famous architecture gets bathed in dazzling Light Art, Berlin is the place to come, soak up the atmosphere, and hit the clubs at the end of the night.
But with all that vibrancy and visual inspiration on offer, you certainly won’t want to kill your buzz by coming back to a bland and featureless hotel.
So keep your creative spirits pulsing throughout every single moment of your trip, by checking in at one of these hip, unique and above all, beautifully designed places to stay.
If you really want to immerse yourself in Berlin’s music and art scene, you have to be in the Friedrichshain district in the east of the city. Once known for its counterculture squats, it’s now home to numerous design and media companies, and is considered one of the hippest areas of modern day Berlin. And you’ll certainly get that vibe at the Michelberger Hotel, a family business that describes itself as “creative, independent, organic and original”.
Housed in an old factory building from the old communist days, this defiantly quirky, 113-room boutique hotel offers a unique take on loft-style living. Known for its friendly staff and sense of youthful cool, its design is dominated by a white minimalist approach that feels perfectly suited to modern-day Berlin. Its restaurant brings you organic food sourced from local farms. And for the ultimate in hipster credentials, it even screens The Big Lebowski on constant loop.
In short, this isn’t a hotel just for sleeping, but one where you’ll want to hang out with the hip crowd it attracts, leaf through piles of art and design magazines on sofas in the lounge, or sip a beer in the bar and connected courtyard music venue.
Looking out over Berlin Zoo, Bikini Berlin takes its unique location and runs with it. This high-rise hotspot makes the most of its views, with a 360° rooftop terrace providing panoramic perspectives on the animals below, as well as the lively Kurfürstendamm district, known for its shopping and entertainment.
And the wildlife theme doesn’t stop there. Designer Werner Aisslinger has created special ‘Jungle Rooms’, featuring natural elements and colours, from which you can enjoy views of the elephants and apes below from full length windows.
You can also enjoy the sights of the zoo from the hotel’s sauna and top-floor Monkey Bar, where you can enjoy regular DJ sets. Plus this animal-loving hotel will even let you bring your pet along to enjoy the fun.
Want to be in Berlin, but take a break from the hectic pace of urban life? That might sounds like an impossible ask, but here’s a unique way to square the circle. Located on Lake Rummelsburg, a small bay in the River Spree, there is hardly a more relaxing way to stay in Berlin than this chic, custom-built houseboat.
Although only 1.2km from the Friedrichshain district, and just 15 minutes from the centre via a nearby tram station, this lake location couldn’t be more chilled, with stunning city views through the houseboat’s huge windows. There’s plenty of space to relax inside: the artfully designed boat is around 60 sq m, and features all mod cons, as well as a real fire in the winter and air con in the summer.
Berlin's waterways are on of the city's most attractive features, so whether you want to cycle along the canals (two ‘Bella Ciao’ bikes are available to use) or enjoy the River Spree in full (boat rentals are just 200 yards away), you'll be in good hands. In short, if you want a way to zip between the hectic energy of urban streets and the placid calm of gently rippling water, you can’t do better.
There’s a Catch-22 with art hotels. If you find one you love, you want to go back and stay there another time. But if you’re a lover of the unique and quirky, your instincts will tell you to try out somewhere new instead. The Linnen Group has found a way around this conundrum, by making each one of their places, spread across Berlin, completely different and individual.
Spacious, packed with stylishly retro character and boasting luxurious little touches such as balconies and soaker bath tubs, Linnen’s rooms, studios and spacious apartments are promoted under the slogan “more home, less hotel”. But these certainly aren’t your average homes, unless beautiful vintage stucco ceilings, reclaimed wood panelling and Turkish travertine tiles are the norm round your way.
As far from bland uniformity as you can go, staying with Linn means enjoying a fusion of antique and modern furnishings, an emphasis on comfort, and a unique visual experience that you’ll always remember. And you’ll be able to come back again and again, without ever getting bored.
Willing to push the boat out financially? Then you won’t do better than the achingly beautiful Soho House Berlin. Located in the pretty and historic Mitte district of old East Berlin, it’s close to the Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate and Potsdamer Platz, Checkpoint Charlie, Tiergarten Park and Museum Island. But that’s not strictly relevant, as you probably won’t want to leave at any point during your stay.
Previously a department store designed in the New Objectivity style, this beautiful building’s eight floors have been converted into a stunning 65-bedroom, 20-apartment, 4-loft hotel and members’ club that bring the best of British hotel and club design to Berlin.
But while there's a traditional feel to the place, elegant and tasteful touches including parquet, vintage bar stools, gorgeous light fittings, open fires, sofas and modern art keep it all cutting edge.
Each of the stunning Art Deco rooms boasts a king-size bed, Egyptian cotton sheets and rainforest shower. Elsewhere you can chill out with the young, cosmopolitan crowd on the rooftop terrace, or take a dip in the 26 degree pool. None of this understated, stylish elegance comes cheap, but at Soho House Berlin you certainly get what you pay for.