Hotel Adlon Kempinski
Germany’s No. 1 location
Germany’s most renowned hotel is opposite the country’s most renowned landmark – the Brandenburg Gate. The Berlin Adlon welcomed kings, presidents and movie stars before its glitzy elegance was turned to ashes and rose born again.
The Adlon is named after the original owner Lorenz Adlon. In the early years of the 1900s, he invested the then incredible sum of 20 million gold marks into constructing the hotel. After two years, it was finally finished on 23 October 1907 – and in those days, it was truly futuristic. Equipped with hot and cold running water, the Adlon had its own electricity plant as well as a cooling system. Kaiser Wilhelm II personally opened the hotel – and was keen on being the first guest. The Adlon quickly gained a reputation as one of the world’s most beautiful hotels. Soon embassies moved their offices into rooms at the Adlon, while aristocratic families sold their draughty winter palaces to live in the hotel. The celebrity guests included Greta Garbo who, when filming her movie Grand Hotel in the Adlon, uttered the immortal words ‘I want to be alone’ in her breathy voice. While enjoying the view from his corner suite, Albert Einstein often waved to passers-by. And in 1931, after Charlie Chaplin’s movie City Lights celebrated its German premiere, he was welcomed at the hotel by an ecstatic crowd. In their enthusiasm to touch him, his fans tore all the buttons from his jacket and braces – and Chaplin had to flee to the Adlon elevator with his hands in his pockets to hold up his trousers. At the end of the Second World War, a fierce fire in the building left the legendary hotel a ruin. Only one rear service wing survived.
Today’s Hotel Adlon Kempinski was inspired by its historical predecessor and festively opened in 1997 by German President Roman Herzog – making the Adlon the only hotel in the world opened twice by heads of state! The hotel was soon not only receiving letters and parcels with cutlery from the old Aldon, but in one case a complete original page’s uniform from the old days. The modern hotel is still regarded as the German government’s unofficial guest house. After Queen Elizabeth II occupied the same suite on two occasions, it was soon renamed the Royal Suite.
But this hotel with its long tradition also has very down-to-earth sides – such as offering Berlin’s famous currywurst snack and the equally renowned doner kebab! After all, according to legend, both these Berlin specialities were actually invented in the city – the currywurst by Herta Heuwer in her Charlottenburg snack bar in 1959 and the kebab sandwich by Turkish-born Kadir Nurman at his West Berlin kebab shop in 1970. Naturally, though, at the Adlon both of these iconic dishes are served in rather more sophisticated versions!