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Oliver Böhme
Axel Hotel Berlin

by Tim Pinckney
Axel Hotels (, the “hetero-friendly” hotel chain, has opened its latest establishment in Berlin. With hotels already in Buenos Aires and Barcelona, Juan P. Juliá, President of Axel Hotels, has created a unique chain where everyone is welcome. Juliá says, “Its main distinction is the spectacular ambience and the perception of the guests that they are living a unique experience in a framework of respect where no-one is judging anyone.” At the grand opening in March of 2009, Klaus Wowereit, the openly gay mayor of Berlin, welcomed Axel Hotel Berlin as the latest addition to the city’s “most cosmopolitan gay scene,” stating, “We are enormously proud that a chain as important as Axel Hotels has decided to situate its third hotel in Berlin.”

The striking design feature here takes you in as soon as you enter the lobby. At once stark and warm, the Axel Hotel Berlin makes the bold choice to feature black walls with gold accents. “The Hotel plays with the colors of black and gold,” according to Íñigo Hernández Tofé, the creator of the Axel’s architectural style, “representing simplicity and elegance.” The property boasts 86 “designer” guest rooms, including six suites and ten junior suites. King-sized beds, plasma TVs, iPod docks, Wi-Fi, and room service are standard.

Meet Juan Julia, founder of Axel Hotels, at

Effortlessly complementing The Axel’s lush yet simple setting is its Concierge/Front Office Manager, Oliver Böhme. With over a decade of experience in five-star hotels, Oliver became a part of the Axel team because he was looking for something different. He is a perfect fit for the chic, contemporary hotel and clearly loves his work, happily making recommendations to the diverse collection of guests that find their way to the Axel. Acutely aware of the importance of a disciplined, courteous, and knowledgeable staff, Oliver runs a tight ship. “It is not a party all the time in the hotel business,” he says. Oliver has the distinct advantage of living right around the corner from the Axel so he knows Berlin’s gay Schöneberg neighborhood very well. As our insider’s guide to this exciting city, Böhme is a treasure trove of information.

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Where are your favorite places to meet friends for a drink?
The Solar Bar (Stresemannstrasse 76. is very nice. It is a sky bar with a great view overlooking all of Berlin. It is not (exclusively) a gay bar, but very open-minded. Solar advertises that it is “the ideal place to meet and communicate…an experimental space for free living—creative, innovative, friendly, familiar, unconventional, changeable, and visionary.” Also serving food, Solar has a varied and interesting menu. On the weekends, it gets very packed. Heile Welt (Motzstrasse 5, Schöneberg Tel: +49-30-21-91-75-07. is the best place to go for a drink before going out to party. Always busy, Heile Welt is something of an institution now. The crowd is mixed, the drinks are big and well made, and the weekends get very crowded.

What restaurants do you recommend for a romantic dinner?
Uma Restaurant (Behrenstrasse 72. Tel: +49-30-3011-1733-3. is, at this moment, one of the best restaurants in Berlin. They serve Japanese cuisine featuring a selection of regional ingredients. The service is non-traditional, considering you will not receive your meal in its expected order. For example, appetizers don’t always precede the main course. At Uma, dishes are served based on their preparation. The setting is beautiful, and you’re sure to enjoy the sashimi, yaki, and seafood, prepared with homemade sauces and marinades. This is a unique culinary experience not to be missed. Rutz Weinbar (Chaussee Strasse 8. Tel: +49-30-24-62-87-60. is a small restaurant with very good cuisine and nice wines. A contemporary design and a selection of over 1,000 wines make it worth the trip. The food is beautifully presented and prepared expertly. But don’t forget the Café More (Motzstrasse 28. Tel: +49-30-23-63-57-02. in Motzstrasse, which is very famous in the gay scene. Located around the corner from Axel, the interior is contemporary and it is immediately apparent that this is a neighborhood favorite. Providing a good menu and good service, this seems to be the gay epicenter of the neighborhood. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but be sure to make a reservation.

Which of Berlin’s museums are on your must see list?
This is not so easy. It depends what you like. Berlin boasts more than 180 museums, so there is truly some-thing for every taste. I prefer the Pergamonmuseum (Museumsinsel, Am Kupfergraben. Tel: +49-30-2090-5577. on the Museum Island. Built between 1912–1930, it boasts three separate collections; the Museum of Antiquities, which features the Pergamon Altar (170 BC) with a large frieze of the goddess Athena. Additionally The Pergamon houses the Museum of the Ancient Near East and the Museum of Islamic Art. The Jewish Museum (Jüdisches Museum Berlin. Lindenstrasse 9-14. Tel: +49-30-2599-3300. is a unique and extraordinary experience. Designed by Daniel Libeskind, the building’s design is a fantastic example of late 20th-century architecture, based on a deconstructed Star of David. The interior design is an intentionally complicated and sometimes confusing journey, mirroring the history of the Jews in Germany. As you read about the various exhibitions, you soon notice that to obtain all the information available, you have to work for it. Drawers with text snap out of your hands if you don’t pull them just right. Each fascinating exhibition is steeped in frustration and struggle—you look out the windows and see cement, but rarely a glimpse of the outside. Truly an interactive experience, this unique museum forces you to feel the experience of a long history of survival. It is not to be missed. Meanwhile, Checkpoint Charlie is a vivid reminder of Berlin’s not so distant past. The accompanying museum, Haus am Checkpoint Charlie (Friedrichstrasse 43-45., features a large collection that meticulously details the border struggles and conflicts of divided Berlin. Featuring stories of bravery and the determination of the human spirit, the museum also has some thrilling examples of a variety of artists bravely interpreting the oppression and anger.

What are the best times to visit Berlin?
Berlin is lovely 365 days a year, but for sure, the summertime is sexier. June until September is really nice. The Gay Street Festival ( is very famous and is held one week before Pride. The whole Motzstrasse is full and most of the Berlin gays like it even more then the Pride. This annual festival covers over 25,000 square meters and features exhibits from a wide range of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender groups as well as information on travel, film, AIDS, and politics. In addition to all the information available, there is a huge sampling of Berlin’s gastronomic pleasures and a continual array of entertainment.

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