Axel Hotel Berlin
by Tim Pinckney
Axel Hotels (www.axelhotels.com/en),
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 citys 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 Axels 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
Meet Juan Julia, founder of Axel
Hotels, at www.passportmagazine.com/tv
Effortlessly complementing The Axels
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 Berlins gay Schöneberg
neighborhood very well. As our insiders guide
to this exciting city, Böhme is a treasure trove
Where are your favorite places to
meet friends for a drink?
The Solar Bar (Stresemannstrasse 76. www.solarberlin.com)
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
space for free livingcreative, 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 dont always precede
the main course. At Uma, dishes are served based on
their preparation. The setting is beautiful, and youre
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. www.rutz-weinbar.de)
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 dont 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.
of Berlins 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 19121930,
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. www.jmberlin.de) is a unique
and extraordinary experience. Designed by Daniel Libeskind,
the buildings 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
dont pull them just right. Each fascinating exhibition
is steeped in frustration and struggleyou 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 Berlins
not so distant past. The accompanying museum, Haus
am Checkpoint Charlie (Friedrichstrasse 43-45. www.mauermuseum.de),
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 is lovely 365 days a year, but for sure,
the summertime is sexier. June until September is really
nice. The Gay Street Festival (www.regenbogenfonds.de)
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 Berlins gastronomic
pleasures and a continual array of entertainment.