When we got home from our recent vacation in Berlin, there were two things I was certain of: I would be back to Berlin, and I would stay at the Adlon.
Staying at the Adlon is a big departure from my usual MO: a hotel room should be safe, clean and centrally located. Anything beyond that is probably more than I need. Developing world corollary: the hotel should be nice enough to be an oasis from the bustle, noise and pollution outside and English speaking staff. Oh, and I generally like to have CNN if there’s a TV (although we didn’t watch TV once in Berlin).
So why the Adlon? It’s certainly centrally located, that’s for sure. In much of the center, you can find your way home on foot, just by looking for the Brandenburg Gate. And Pariser Platz out in front is a terrific place to hang out at the end of the day, or the end of the evening. And the US Embassy is right there, just in case …
More importantly, though, is the history at the Adlon. Reading In the Garden of Beasts, the Adlon is where the foreign correspondents dinner is held (and it’s so much nicer than the Hinkley Hilton where DC’s White House Correspondents Dinner is hosted). In spy books like Berlin Noir and the Station books, it’s where things happen. Anyone who’s anyone dines – or more importantly drinks – at the Adlon. Even during the Cold War, it’s a (bombed out) landmark. Len Deighton refers to it in the first scene where Bernie and Werner wait for their agent to cross from the East. So how could I resist?
As a guest, I loved the hotel’s old-fashioned elegance. The staff was wonderful, attentive and warm, but not stifling or over the top. I am eternally grateful to our concierges for dealing with our random requests and especially to Julian, who managed to get us a table at the Lorenz, when I had botched our reservation at Tim Raue (more on that later) and then ran into May Day restaurant closures (who knew this was still a European holiday?)
The Lorenz, of course, was delicious. I can only imagine how frazzled we were, but they welcomed us, poured us sparkling roses to help calm our nerves. Our head waiter, who reminded me of a slightly restrained Vince Vaughn, was sly and attentive and had a very good read on us.
He steered us to the tasting menu, predicting we would get the five course menu. We picked six only because I wanted to try the halibut. And when we asked about the wine pairings, he described it as excellent, but a lot of wine, although sometimes that’s what patrons want … Somehow, I envisioned him calling the bellhops to bring the luggage cart up for an inebriated hotel guest.
But here’s what I really loved about Vince. He showed his concerned that we might not have liked all the courses (we did!), by making a funny comment, noting my pigeon course was “successful” only with help from G. He then proclaimed me the Finance Minister when I signed for the bill.
Then there was breakfast in the Wintering Room, a sumptuous feast of pastries, cured meats, cheeses, fruits, granola, eggs and Asian dumplings (?). I know, just go with that last one.
Here’s the best image to capture the breakfast bounty, the array of jams:
What’s not to love about the Adlon?