Bright, breezy and futuristic are the adjectives that come to mind upon entering the chic lobby of the centrally located NH Collection Hotel on Berlin’s downtown Friedrichstrasse. A massive multi-color display screen dominates one entire wall showing a mesmerizing array of flowing, abstract designs. Soft lean-back chairs and pillows are scattered around the foyer beside curved, chrome standing lamps and a flickering open fire.
A prominent reception desk lines one side of the spacious lobby while opposite is an open, raised bar and lounge area. The concierge desk is between them, complete with environmentally-friendly Segways, electric bicycles and scooters beside it for guest rental. Scattered with Tufty-Time sofas by Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola, the open-space lobby is often buzzing with people sipping drinks and chatting idly.
This four-star hotel, which was refurbished earlier this year, is a member of Preferred Hotels and Resorts and features 268 rooms spread over eight floors, including suites and junior suites, with four disability-friendly rooms. Set in the Mitte area, formerly part of the Handelszentrum (IHZ Berlin) international business complex constructed during the Cold War, the building was meant to display the extent of Communist power to its Western neighbors.
Our room was located above the busy shopping streets, where Friedrichstrasse meets Georgenstrasse, with convenient tram, subway and train links—Friedrichstrasse S-Bahn and U-Bahn metro station—within a minute's walk. Even so, the hustle and bustle of city life below was kept at bay by heavy, floor-to-ceiling windows which also provide a welcoming flood of natural light. Set in a contemporary décor, furnishings are minimalist, with neutral, relaxing tones, an effect complemented by vibrant red armchairs and Philippe Starck KTribe F lamps. A full-length mirror standing against one wall reflected even more light into the room and the open walk-in shower was a refreshing delight both for body and soul after a day in the city.
For the sporty, the hotel also has a compact gym in the basement with a treadmill, multi-gym, weights machines and stationary bike, as well as two saunas, including a gentler bio-sauna. The gym is open 24/7 so there is no excuse for missing a work out. A nice gesture to guests is what hotel officials term, ‘Lazy Sunday.’ If you're staying over a weekend, breakfast is served until noon and late checkout (before 5pm) is free.
Breakfast is served in Friedrich's, which also acts as a buffet restaurant during the day. Located on the ground-floor, just off the lobby, its high glass and metal ceiling permits an abundance of natural light to flood the modern-style area. A comprehensive breakfast buffet with diverse fruit, meats and cheeses is offered, with fresh omelet options. The range of beverages is impressive, including a line-up of 16 different teas, ranging from Ayurveda Herbs and Ginger to Vanilla Rooibos and White Yin Long, created by Ronnefeldt specially for the hotel.
The hotel’s TASTE! Bar & Restaurant serves up typical Berlin street food snacks such as döner and currywurst as well as haute cuisine dishes, both regional and local. For those on business trips, the hotel’s central location is a big plus. Being close to many government offices combined with excellent access to public transport makes this property an attractive choice for business functions, as do the nine meeting rooms. This includes Glashall, its largest function room, catering to 350 people for presentations and gala dinners.
As for tourist guests, almost next door is a large Dussmann bookstore, with a strong English-language section, while historic Checkpoint Charlie, the popular winter Gendarmenmarkt, the DDR museum and other attractions are within an easy ten-minute stroll. Other well-known sights such as the Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag, Friedrichstadt-Palast, Deutsches Theater, State Opera, Museums Island with Bode Museum, Pergamonmuseum and Alte Nationalgalerie are also nearby.
If it’s contemporary chic and centrality you seek in a Berlin hotel, then this particular member of the 382-hotel, 29-country NH Collection hotel group is one well worth seeking out.