Once the Grand Dame of Berlin and a celebrity haunt during the Roaring Twenties, the century-old Hotel Zoo has now undergone a two-year renovation (2012-2014) that is proving you really can teach an old (dame) new tricks. Playing host to Hollywood stars such as Grace Kelly and Sophie Loren, the old hotel was first constructed as a private residence before opening its doors to the public.
From the 1950s through the 1970s, it boasted the official VIP hotel for the renowned Berlin International Film Festival. Today, Hotel Zoo has been reinvented to offer 145 rooms and suites, a Living Room lounge, rooftop terrace, winter garden and the Grace Bar.
“It isn’t often such a legendary and iconic residence comes our way to design […] on the storied Kurfürstendamm, in the magnetic city of Berlin,” says designer Dayna Lee. Describing her ideas behind its concept, Lee explained, “I thought about what [former guests] wore to the film festivals and galas of the past. The design is inspired by our fictional tale of the current generation who would now inhabit this stately residence."
Probably one of the most impressive new features is an emerald green 72-foot, carpeted catwalk designed by none other than Diane von Fürstenberg. Creating a bridge between the entrance and the Living Room, the DVF catwalk features black and white crouching leopards woven into it. With leather Baxter club chairs juxtaposed with violet Tom Dixon’s wingchairs, vibrant hues and crimson sofas, the Living Room is the heart of the hotel. The space also includes 22-foot high, floor-to-ceiling windows and a two-ton molding of enlarged lilies mounted to the ceiling. If you love the color of the DVF carpet, you can take it home in the form of a signature nail polish created by Berlin cosmetics company Uslu Airlines especially for the hotel.
Varying in size between 59 and 475 square feet, guest rooms include in-room accessories by Maison Martin Margiela, walnut wood cabinetry, rich hardwood floors, LCD TVs with Apple TV, Nespresso coffee machines, rain showers, and some with freestanding bathtubs. Offsetting the strong color palettes in the room are oyster-hued armchairs with matching button-back headboards and ivory-colored lampshades. Bathroom amenities are April Aromatics by Berlin-based perfumer Tanja Bochnig.
Of the seven suites, two are Penthouses located on the sixth floor. The first comes with a bedroom, two bathrooms, spacious living areas, a George Smith sofa, a full walk-in closet and a double-sided fireplace. The second offers views of Ku’damm, freestanding bathtub, a fireplace that can be seen from the bed. And, we're not sure about you, but that bed looks pretty dang comfortable to us (especially with a little Champagne in hand).
Drawing on the hotel’s history, the Grace Bar is decorated with a speakeasy atmosphere and serves classics from the 1920s through ‘50s. Both high and low wood tables furnish the room and are paired with velvet-covered stools or olive green leather Baxter chairs. Portrayed in a newspaper format, the menu changes quarterly and includes stories of the bar team, details on the hotel, and narratives about Berlin. Grace Restaurant from former head chef of Berlin’s famous Grill Royal will also be opening soon.
Already having caught the eyes of DVF and Belgian fashion designer Maison Martin Margiela, Hotel Zoo Berlin seems to quickly be returning to its glory days. Which means, if you want to reserve a room, you may want to do so fast, before it becomes too difficult to book. Rates begin at around USD $136 per night on weekdays.