Former Berlin Stasi Spy Base Now Chic New Boutique Hotel Chateau Royal

Berlin’s elegant new Château Royal is a former Stasi spy center. Today, after several years of painstaking renovations, it is a wonderful boutique hotel. And the location is great: in the heart of Berlin Mitte, a few minutes from the grand boulevard Unter den Linden and the famous Brandenburg Gate. Co-founder restaurateur Stephan Landwehr, Grill Royal manager Moritz Estermann and Icelandic chef Victoria Eliasdóttir joined forces with Creative Director Celia Solf to create a unique hotel and dining destination.

The hotel consists of two listed buildings, dating from 1850 and 1910 and a new build and roof extension, designed by renowned British architect David Chipperfield. The interiors of Studio Irina Kromayer are magnificent, with every detail carefully considered. Based on materials popular in Berlin’s heyday in the early 19th century, the design features colorful marble, herringbone parquet, oak, nickel and handmade craquelure tiles in a contemporary twist on Berlin’s bohemia. Contemporary artworks, some by famous artists are everywhere in the common areas and rooms.

Common areas include an elegant lobby, hotel bar, restaurant, private dining room, fireside lounge and winter garden. A staircase includes a wall of colorful Dall glass and in the corridors, an elegant sisal carpet runs along the poured asphalt floor, otherwise known as “Berlin terrazzo” – a reference to the shiny buildings in the west of Berlin.

An interesting piece of history from the communist era is that these buildings were officially a publishing company during the Cold War. However, the discovery of spying devices during recent renovations makes it clear that the Stasi used them to spy on the American embassy which was then located across the street.

Hostels

There are 93 rooms, on five floors, of which 26 are suites and one is an apartment. All rooms at Château Royal feature high-quality furniture, custom-made, designed and manufactured exclusively for the hotel, heated floors, rain showers, natural latex mattresses and natural fiber bedding. While there are some common design aspects, each room and suite differs both in design and individual vintage pieces. Beautiful bespoke oak furniture doubles as room dividers, shelves and decor, upholstered armchairs and gorgeous sets of sofas and poufs in mohair velvet have been created in collaboration with designer Christian Haas for Château Royal. Televisions are cleverly hidden inside padded chests at the end of the bed. The Schinkel and Bauhaus inspired bathrooms are extremely spacious. The lamps are made of KL ceramics and the rattan headboard was designed by Kromayer.

Art is a key feature of this hotel. A different contemporary artist with strong ties to Berlin has contributed a work to each guest room for permanent display, curated by gallerist Kirsten Landwehr in collaboration with Krist Gruijthuijsen (KW Institute for Contemporary Art).

Dinning room

The ground floor is the hotel’s bustling social hub and hosts the restaurant Dottír and a classic cocktail bar, led by head chef Elena Müller and director Alexander Brauer – filled with the same delight as the hotel’s sister outlets, Grill Royal, Kin Dee , Le Petit Royal and Freundschaft are known for. Victoria Eliasdóttir, who previously ran the restaurant “Dóttir” at the same location, together with Elena Müller as Chef de Cuisine, is responsible for all the food offerings here. Seasonal menus feature dishes such as: “In Beans We Trust” (smoked white beans, sauteed cabbage, tomatoes and thyme oil, served with toasted brioche and house-made labneh), Icelandic barley crisps with smoked seaweed and a rotating shellfish soup.

Work of art

A visit to this hotel is like a visit to a contemporary art gallery. The wall in front of the kitchen features a large neon artwork by Karl Holmqvist: Hurray Die Butter ist Alle (“untitled”). Krist Gruijhtuisen and Kirsten Landwehr have done an excellent job selecting more than 100 works of art, including paintings, sculptures and installations, which are distributed throughout the hotel. Cosima von Bonin and Klara Lidén are in the restaurant, the ceiling features “Luftmatratzen” by Angela Mewes, and the fixtures on the facade are by Paul Hance. Look for Julian Charrière’s sculpture: ‘Denkmal’, a stone stuck to the wall between two rooms. Thomas Demand designed wall hangings for the rooms and the fireplace, while John Bock created a curtain. There are lighting installations, a hidden text behind the baseboard, and outside Self-Portrait as a Ghost stands guard – a cloaked bronze Alicja Kwade. Christian Jankowski has recruited anyone on the construction site for the past four years to design castles in the sky, which will be transformed into a light sculpture. Some works are loud and obvious, others quiet and subtle. What they have in common: in one way or another, they have strong ties to both Berlin and Château Royal.

A double room at the Château Royal starts at €225 a night, including breakfast.

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