Berlin Hotels for the Hip Artist Masses

BERLIN (TheStreet) -- In the past two years, hotels such as the Hotel de Rome and Lux 11 have competed for Berlin's A-List crowd. The Hotel du Rome by Rocco Forte Hotels gets the high-end celebrity crowd, including Jennifer Aniston and Kate Moss, while the Lux 11 lures the more bohemian types who frequent galleries and don't mind that some of the rooms aren't air-conditioned.

But Berlin is making room for two hotel newcomers with very different business concepts aimed at the capital city's trendy elite.

First is The Weinmeister Hotel, which mixes elements of bohemian artist and celebrity culture into a city-center retreat. The name refers to its street address, in the center of Berlin's ever-hip Mitte neighborhood -- walking distance to Hackescher Markt as well as the same owner's Lux 11. That apartment-style boutique hotel bet on the Mitte long before it was really cool; now its creators have built a hotel from the ground up that puts a plush pillow under the head of the same punk artist scene.

"The Golden Cage," as locals call it due to the shimmering building materials, bears a lobby alit in Berlin's summer light, one with warm mosaic wall patterns and wide-plank oak floors with fashionably worn finish that flow from the sparse reception area to a small lounge. Visitors will find high-backed club chairs in solid, earthy fabrics with floor-to-ceiling windows framed in drapery panels.

A mecca for the pretty and hip, the hotel is home to an in-house lounge-style eatery that mixes cocktail culture with first-rate cuisine. But the real action is found in the Schwartz Bar -- named after its creator, German actress Jessica Schwartz (Deutschland's version of Scarlett Johansson).

At the heart of Weinmeister is a private room experience. A specially made bed with an uber-king-sized mattress is mounted to a chic high-backed headboard and positioned in the middle of the room to create a "room within a room" experience. In lieu of televisions, each room has its own Apple ( AAPL) iMac synced with iPhones.

The entire structure is a cool sanctuary from the city's notorious August humidity, especially since it's one of the only hotels in the area air-conditioned from top to bottom.

But in catering to the hip artist masses of the Mitte, The Weinmeister's real competition comes with the debut of Soho House Berlin. Not just an exclusive members' club, Soho House Berlin debuted in May with a 40-bedroom hotel in a Bauhaus-designed 1928 department store once home to the national archive of the East German government. The location isn't as charming as that of The Weinmeister -- it's on one of the area's busier intersections, with views of the East Berlin TV Tower and not-so-pretty buildings of Alexanderplatz. But few visitors or Soho House members waste much time on the sidewalk between their S-Class sedan service and grand entrance.

It's one of the designers' best debuts. Soho House Berlin sprawls over eight floors with 30 rooms and includes a movie theater operating nightly, a library with shelves pulled from The London Library, Cowshed Spa with gym offering yoga and pilates, and two Karl Lagerfeld-ready club floors with a dining scene that will likely have far more stringent social standards than even the DDR communists.

The crowning jewel is the hotel's glass-enclosed rooftop pool deck, unlike any in Berlin, with its colorful collection of sun loungers and tasseled parasols that make an otherwise gray city come to life (at least from June through September). Flanked by a 75-foot pool tiled in green Pyrolave volcanic stone surrounded by a rustic timber deck, an interior rooftop bar and lounge thump to sultry lounge anthems that make a July trip to Ibiza or Calvi seem almost like a letdown.

Rooms at Soho House Berlin are 75 euros (about $97) for Soho House members and 100 euros (about $130) for nonmembers, including full access to club amenities in addition to a key to the most stylish of any hotel room in the city. Designed by Susie Atkinson (her work includes the Dean Street Townhouse and Babington House Somerset), the city-view guestrooms feature reclaimed herringbone floors and red-velvet-upholstered sofas with tasseled brocading and deco lines that maintain the air of 1920s Berlin with fashionable English design essentials. There are even clawfoot tubs in the middle of select rooms. While the party atmosphere may be a bit overwhelming for anyone in Berlin on business, the Soho House lightens up a rather serious luxury hotel market in Berlin.

That market now has a true superstar in its midst.

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Michael Martin is the managing editor of JetSetReport.com -- a luxury travel and lifestyle guide based in Los Angeles and London. His work has appeared in In Style, Blackbook, Elle, U.K.'s Red magazine, ITV and BBC.

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