Where to start with luxury boutique hotel Das Stue in Berlin? This is a place where you can spy on ostriches, have a 25-course meal courtesy of Michelin-starred Catalan chef Paco Pérez, and reach all of Berlin’s best bits in an easy stroll. The former Royal Danish Embassy has a pearl-white spa with Alpine-influenced treatments, whimsical animal motifs and flawless design, courtesy of Spanish interiors whizz, Patricia Urquiola.
Direct access to the zoo
A small bottle of Laurent-Perrier champagne in your room
In the know
Also need to know:
Das Stue's building was built in 1938–1940 by Johann Emil Schaudt, the man behind Berlin's KaDeWe department store – Berlin's answer to Harrods. Be sure to spend some time in the three-storey library, at the front of the original building and next to the staircase. Admire the original parquet flooring and interior designer Urquiola's comfy seating options. If you need a drink, just pick up the telephone and order one from the bar.
Binoculars and safari gear for appraising your beastly neighbours; low-slung trousers for the 25-course tasting menu at Cinco; threads worthy of a German hipster for the swish little bar.
What can you comfortably conquer 25 courses in? Relaxed threads are fine for the Casual (unsurprisingly); you’ll want to smarten up for Cinco. Add some zebra-print, feathers, faux fur or leopard to honour the local residents.
Mr and Mrs Smith reviews
There was the usual signage around the pool, albeit a little classier than the traditional ‘no running, no bombing, no heavy petting’ cartoons redolent of the municipal baths of our youth. We moved up to the sauna. ‘No bathing costumes’ suggested the illustration. Ha ha. Those Germans and their zany sense of humour. We pulled open the door and: Oh! Turns out: not a joke. There’s a lady sitting in there completely starkers with full-on nudey bits. Hot. Steamy. Uncomfortable. In shock, these prudish Brits ran and jumped into the pool. No heavy petting though. Not there anyway.
‘Das Stue’ – sounds wonderfully German, doesn’t it? Say it with me: Das Stue. Yeah, it’s Danish and it means ‘living room’. In fact it is so Danish, it’s the Royal Danish Embassy. Or at least this 1930s-built Nordic Classicism beauty was until they gutted the place of flunkies wafting about proffering trays of Ferrero Rocher and turned it into a sizeable hotel of 79 rooms with 22 suites. It’s as achingly hip as a geriatric ward. Monsieur, with this luxury you are really spoiling us.
What the Spanish owners haven’t done is spoil this grand old building. Gold star to the architects and interiors doyenne, Patricia Urquiola. As first impressions go, Das Stue boasts the most impressive entrance since Pippa Middleton sashayed into Westminster Abbey. Marble staircases frame the high-ceilinged hallway. A spectacular light sculpture hangs down over an enormous alligator’s skull, jaws agape lending an idea of how the Natural History Museum might look as a hip hotel. And you can see right the way through to the buzzing bar’s panoramic windows that back onto Berlin Zoo. Yes, here at Das Stue, you’re guaranteed a true bird’s-eye ogle of living-and-breathing beasts that include full-size feathery-flanked ostriches.
‘Sir, you have been upgraded.’ Five of the most beautiful words in the English language. Our room wasn’t a room, it was a loft apartment with so much floor space we could have performed some gymnastics. Mrs Smith was doing cartwheels with glee. We looked out the window and could see some gazelles and a couple of ostriches down below, as you do. Quite literally a room with a zoo.
We’d pre-booked full body massages to have soon after arrival in order to hasten the transition into relaxation mode – a little trick of ours in order to maximise the benefits of a short weekend away. It’s a Susanne Kaufmann Spa at Das Stue. That didn’t mean a great deal to me I confess, but we now know she is a big noise in the quiet world of German pampering. The relaxing effects of her signature massage were, however, somewhat undone by the aforementioned shock in the sauna straight afterwards. Had we been in the mood for more group activity, the spa also hosts yoga classes and group runs in Tiergarten Park.
Giggling, we padded back up to our suite in our robes via a grand staircase with landings that double as libraries. The walls that are not lined with books showcase tasteful vintage black-and-white ’50s and ’60s fashion photography from the likes of Helmut Newton. No Athena posters here; these prints are all part of the owners’ private collection.
Back in the loft apartment. Our bed was so big and comfortable it had its own time zone. I sat on it to play with the pad that controlled the Apple entertainment system while Mrs Smith ordered up two Aperol spritzes and ran a bath. In this sense, it felt very much like home.
The decor is a chill-out mix of muted colours with lots of both dark and blonde wood – but with flashes of colour in the cushions, rugs and artwork. The furniture combines design classics and more modern pieces that somehow work well together. This design fusion continues in the bar downstairs where neon wire sculptures of zoo animals – a giraffe, a couple of chimps – sit among quirky pieces of statement furniture. As for the ear candy, on Friday and Saturday nights, well-known DJs are drafted in to get the party started.
Adjacent to the bar is the main restaurant, one of Berlin’s best, called ‘5 – cinco by Paco Pérez’ which is overseen by the four-times Michelin-starred Catalan chef and protégé of Ferran Adria. His avant-garde 20-course experience menu is a sensation of molecular gastronomy – designed to tickle all five senses – which explains the thinking behind ‘Cinco’, sister to Miramar, in Llançà, Spain.
If foams and spheres are not your bag and you want more everyday fare at more affordable prices, there is The Casual restaurant rustling up mod-Med cuisine with a Catalan flavour. However, we felt like we really ought to venture outside so for lunch on our second day, we ambled all of three minutes’ walk into the leafy, green Tiergarten Park, where the Electors of Brandenburg once went a-hunting – the lungs of Berlin – for a pizza alfresco in the park at an idyllic spot overlooking a lake at Café Am Neuen See. At the next table? Yep, naked sauna woman. This time wearing clothes.
1 Drakestrasse, Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany, 10787
3.0 mi / 4.9 km from city centre
- Aerobics instruction
- Exercise gym
- Internet services
- Complimentary in-room coffee or tea
- Room service
- Onsite laundry
It's unsurprising that elegant restaurant Cinco earned a Michelin star within a year of opening – master chef Paco Pérez has already racked up four of the accolades. A Catalan by birth, this is Pérez’s first culinary outpost away from Spanish shores; seafood is plucked from the waters of Cap de Creus, near the chef’s Miramar restaurant. Expect to be treated to culinary fireworks: foie-ice powder and the ilk. A 25-course feast showcases the kitchen's full range of culinary knowhow. For those times when foams and jus won’t do, there’s the more low-key Casual, which serves elegant Mediterranean comfort food and tapas.
Sit at one of the cosy corner tables at the Casual; dine under the shiny copper-pan light feature, or at one of the chef-spying tables in Cinco.
Food is served in Cinco from 7pm until 11pm (closed on Sundays and Mondays). A tapas selection is on offer in the bar until 11pm. Begin the day with breakfast from 6.30am–11am during the week (until noon on weekends).
Order items from the restaurant menus around the clock, but expect a limited selection from 11pm.
Das Stue means 'living room' in Danish – nowhere is this more apparent than in the cosy bar, which connects to a petite terrace that happens to back on to the ostrich area of Berlin zoo. On Friday there's live music, and Saturday nights DJs spin a slick selection of tunes.