Travel & Gourmet

HOTEL ZOO BERLIN: Feels like a personal pied-à-terre

HOTEL ZOO BERLIN is a refuge for individualists. Each of its 127 rooms and 14 suites is unique and feels like a personal pied-à-terre. Some maintain the exposed steel beams, high ceilings, and brick walls of the original structure; others emphasize the glass and curved lines of contemporary design.
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Some rooms’ soundproof windows overlook bustling Kurfürstendamm, while others gaze over the rooftops of Berlin. Room categories include Petit, Superior, Panorama, Deluxe and Grand Deluxe, and they all share in common Lee’s signature style: elegant tones of taupe, lilac and eggshell; rich hardwood floors and walnut cabinetry; beds with button-back headboards; and luxurious linens. Every room includes luxury cosmetic products by April Aromatics, and bathrobes and towels by the Belgian fashion boutique Maison Martin Margiela. Each room also features a photograph from the Swedish photographer Andreas Kock’s titillating “Stalker” series, which he staged in the hotel right after it closed for renovations in 2012. 

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The New York and L.A.-based designer Dayna Lee of Powerstrip Studio researched Berlin’s history extensively before drawing up HOTEL ZOO BERLIN’s new design. Lee worked previously in Hollywood on set and production design, and she brought her flair for the dramatic to Berlin. She imagined the hotel as the townhouse of a globetrotting family, a place where guests could sense the city’s past while making themselves as comfortable as they would at home. 

The Living Room’s huge windows preserve the openness of the original courtyard, while a five-meter-long double-sided fireplace makes the atmosphere as warm and cozy as the New York townhouse of an old friend. Lee’s design deliberately plays with scale: A six-meter false door of walnut wood adds a touch of “Alice in Wonderland” whimsy, as does the two-ton sculpture of oversized lily flowers mounted to the ceiling. The original brick walls give a sense of the building’s history, while Lee’s warm pink and raspberry tones invite guests to unwind with a cocktail or a cappuccino in a brown leather Baxter chair or George Smith sofa. 

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 The art department of Babelsberg Studio created portraits of these fictional owners, which line the “catwalk” just through the hotel’s seven-meter high entrance. Diane von Fürstenberg designed the catwalk’s jade-green carpet with crawling leopards, which leads to a floating reception desk of walnut and black glass and continues to the heart of the hotel: the Living Room.  

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The new HOTEL ZOO BERLIN maintains many iconic features from Messel’s 1891 design. Streetwalkers on Kurfürstendamm gaze up at the building’s original sandstone façade, with neo-baroque details like broad bay windows, triangular gables, and gilt balcony railings. The building’s layout is still essentially the same as well, with two side wings uniting the front and rear building around a central courtyard. A 200 square-meter annex was added to the rear building for GRACE Restaurant, where Chef Martin Bruhn cooks up inventive dishes with Californian, Asian, and European flavors and techniques. The former courtyard is enclosed in seven-meter tall windows to create the Living Room, an airy escape from the noise and weather of the city. Guests can still relax outside in a winter garden between the Living Room and GRACE Restaurant. 

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