The Danish embassy in Berlin was constructed by Johann Emil Schmidt in 1940. Battered by the war, and then left to fall into disrepair over the next few decades, the embassy building today is the home of Das Stue, a hotel which claims, above all else, to celebrate the concept of the drawing room—of bar culture, conversation and classical, intelligent socialising.
This is a place where old and new clash; where, looking at the building from the outside or walking into the high-ceilinged, warmly-lit foyer, you’d be forgiven for thinking you had stepped back in time—a feeling immediately betrayed (or perhaps complemented) as you walk on into a lavish, unmistakably modern (and Patricia Urquiola-designed) bar and lounge.
This area is at the very core of what Das Stue is trying to do, and it does it wonderfully: the lounge is dark, atmospheric and stunningly designed, while the classic films projected onto the back wall and black-and-white vintage photography scattered around the place add a dash of the old world to a place which is very much a part of the new.
Two restaurants are available to guests at Das Stue, both headed up by legendary Berlin chef Paco Pérez. Cinco is the hotel’s Michelin-starred fine dining experience and offers themed dishes on its molecular Mediterranean-based tasting menu based around ‘the orchard’, ‘the sea’ and ‘the forest’.
Casual is, as you’d expect, the more laid-back option of the two, but is no less upstanding—this is no eat-at-the-bar, burger-and-go establishment. I suspect that Casual is only casual in the sense that is the one restaurant of the two that does not have a Michelin star. That’s not to say it doesn’t serve truly excellent food, of course—only that the menu is rather less avant-garde.
Technology and modernity are at the forefront, here. The rooms are as sleek as the lounge downstairs, and everything is fully automated and controllable from a number of Apple-esque control pads located around the room. It was, I must admit, the first hotel room I have ever seen which had an on/off master switch.
No complaints here about the bed (king-sized and comfortable), the desktop computer was a nice touch and the rest of the amenities—Wi-Fi, minibar, breakfast and 24 hour room service options and so on—were all perfectly plentiful.
Most notably, the room looked out onto the neighbouring Berlin Zoo, which meant that—if you’re lucky—you’re going to have a pretty wonderful view of the ostriches next door to wake up to every morning.
Who Goes There?
A somewhat older—mainly middle-aged—crowd, and mostly couples. There were a few families, but precious few young adults; the sort of people with whom you’d expect to deliver witty banter in the lounge over gin rather than drunken, beer-fuelled larks.
Out & About:
Berlin’s (utterly uninteresting) main shopping street is a twenty minute walk away, and the zoo next door is, well, right next door. The Tiergarten, one of Berlin’s (one of Europe’s even) most beautiful parks, is also adjacent to the hotel and provides an excellent environment for an early morning walk or cycle.
There aren’t a load of nightlife options nearby, but the U-Bahn has a few stations within a reasonable walking distance which will get you to some of Berlin’s more vibrant party districts.
The Worst Thing:
No tea in the room. Nor was there any with room service’s breakfast. This is, admittedly, not exactly the end of the world for most people—but it will be for some.
The Best Thing:
The staff were not only courteous, helpful and friendly, but were also entirely charming and charismatic. A short drink that rapidly turned into an impromptu gin-tasting session in the lounge one night was made particularly enjoyable by the hotel’s bar staff. It is truly pleasing, for a hotel that prides itself on bringing back the art of cultivated conversation, that the staff were able to offer it themselves.