At Berlin’s Oktoberfest, you will quickly tire of downing supersized steins of beer to the soundtrack of a live thumping oompah band. You’ll want a respite from the boisterous, intoxicated crowds, and we’ve found the top spots in the city for those looking for a more sophisticated drink to toast the traditional festival. Our Forbes Travel Guide editors scouted out the area to find Berlin’s best places to stay for your Oktoberfest vacation.
Waldorf Astoria Berlin. The sole luxury hotel on the city’s west side, Waldorf Astoria Berlin debuted in January 2013 with quite a pedigree: It’s Germany’s first Waldorf Astoria hotel, it opened the country’s first Guerlain spa (check out the cloud-shaped pool with its matching cutout ceiling) and it’s home to French-tinged restaurant Les Solistes from master chef Pierre Gagnaire (of Five-Star Twist by Pierre Gagnaire). Taking cues from its neighborhood, the hotel adds offbeat touches to its slick, fashionable décor. When you enter the hotel, don’t mistake the scribbles on the wall of mismatched white stone and glass squares as graffiti. Waldorf Astoria uses the “signature wall” as its guest book. The 152 rooms come with the latest technology—flat-screens with Apple TVs and bathrooms with heated floors and televisions built into the mirrors—and unexpected details as well. In the white marble bathroom next to the tub, etched glass that resembles zebra print becomes a bold gold-and-aqua centerpiece when its light is flicked on. And headboards made of etched and gilded glass stretch to the ceiling and look like marigold gathered wall panels.
We’ll Drink to That: Lang Bar, named after Berlin-born director Fritz Lang, is a throwback 1950s New York lounge. Under hexagon tiles in brown and tan, spread out in the curved periwinkle banquettes with a glass of champagne before retiring for the evening.
Regent Berlin. Foodies who crave something more sophisticated than big-as-your-head pretzels should stay at the elegant, classic Regent Berlin for its French-inspired Fischers Fritz restaurant. Prepare for a day of drinking with a great complimentary breakfast that includes a buffet of pineapple, strawberries and other fruit; a three-tiered tray of cheeses like Brie and Gouda, sliced meats and jars of jams delivered to your table; a basket of pumpkin- and poppy-seed breads; and finally your choice of a hot dish, like eggs Benedict or a Belgian waffle. At night, the fine-dining restaurant takes a seafood slant. Don’t miss the homard à la presse. The dish is made tableside by two waiters with a large silver tool that presses the lobster’s roe and shell and whips the resulting jus with stock to make a lobster mousse to plate with the ready-to-serve meat. The lobster press is the only one of its kind in Germany and one of five in the world. And not to worry if you have a late night celebrating Oktoberfest: There’s 24-hour room service in the 195 traditional, sunny guest rooms.
We’ll Drink to That: Because of the hotel’s fantastic location near Friedrichstrasse’s high-end shopping (Emporio Armani, Galeries Lafayette and more are just a block away), you’ll be tempted to venture out. For a nightcap, head to Regent Bar and order a stiff martini, the house specialty. A bartender will wheel the martini trolley to your table to customize a cocktail just for you, whether you want it sweet or bitter, shaken or stirred.
Schlosshotel im Grunewald. To escape the swarms of tourists, check into this hotel, which is hidden away in a leafy residential area of Grunewald, near the forest. You’d likely mistake the former palace for a mansion, if not for the gold luggage cart beyond the baroque-style gates. It also feels like your own private mansion, thanks to stylish interiors from fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld. Design aficionados will covet the 53 uniquely decorated rooms, which all bear Lagerfeld’s touch. But you’ll want to linger in the public spaces to soak up his aesthetic. The stunning two-story lobby walls are covered in red-on-red damask, a dark wood coffered ceiling and similar wood accents add richness, and deep purple velvet sofas under the gold chandelier invite you to relax. To admire the grounds, dine at Le Jardin. The glass-walled conservatory lets you peer into the garden as you have your eggs, pretzel bread and mango lassi in the morning.
We’ll Drink to That: Don’t miss the bar, which faintly smells of cigars (for a smoke, ask to see the Cuba-heavy cigar menu) and is decked out in a herringbone wood floor, black coffered ceiling with gold trim, gold-and-cream vertical striped wallpaper and brown leather chesterfield sofas flanking the fireplace.
The Ritz-Carlton, Berlin. For a base with a city center location (it’s in Potsdamer Platz, a short walk from top attractions like arts and culture hub Kulturforum, Brandenburg Gate, Tiergarten park and more) and grand accommodations, stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Berlin. Upon entering the cream marble hotel lobby, you’ll see an impressive double staircase. The 303 rooms mimic the German Imperial-style décor that’s a tradition in the city. Our pick is the handsome Bellevue Suite, which is swathed in black, tan and cream, and is appointed with medium wood furnishings and bronze flourishes (like the Art Deco-inspired key pattern detail on the headboard). The suite’s bedroom and separate living room have flat-screen TVs, Philips DVD players and more amenities, but our favorite feature is the spacious bathroom that’s filled with white marble, from the walls and his-and-her sinks to the standalone shower stall and deep-soaking tub—it’s just the spot for recuperating from a late night out.
We’ll Drink to That: The Curtain Club bar beckons with its tan leather armchair bar stools, dark wood walls and lengthy list of cocktails (we sipped the Curtain Club House Martini Cocktail, tea-infused Tanqueray 10 gin, sugar and orange zest), but check out the hotel’s new Fragrances bar. It’s the first bar in the world to specialize in cocktails and perfumes; scents from brands like Yves Saint Laurent, Salvatore Ferragamo and Guerlain inspired the drinks menu. When you arrive, sniff the display of cocktail ingredients and choose your tipple based on your olfactory response.
Hotel de Rome. A convenient Bebelplatz location puts this Rocco Forte hotel right near Museum Island, tree-lined Unter den Linden boulevard and a number of other must-sees. But Hotel de Rome is a sight on its own—it was constructed in 1889 as the Dresdner Bank’s headquarters and is one of the few luxury hotels in town that’s in a historical building. The hotel keeps the remnants of its past—the vault, which still has its heavy door intact, houses the spa’s manicure area, gold-leaf wall mosaics reveal where the gold deposits once sat and the former offices of the bank directors were converted into historical suites. Our choice among the latter is the Renaissance Suite, which still sports the original floor-to-ceiling intricate oak paneling (scratches and all) in the living room. Despite its history, the chic hotel doesn’t feel dusty and old. Most of the furnishings have a modern edge, and the glass-tile-ceilinged lobby provides four places to lounge, each with a jet-black velvet semicircular sofa on top of a red area rug and an oversized globe light fixture hanging above.
We’ll Drink to That: One of the city’s top cocktail bars is off Hotel de Rome’s lobby. Sit in one of the black armchairs or a stool at the 33-foot-long black bar (whose underbelly glows a rotating set of colors) to take in the large paintings and sculptures at Bebel Bar & Velvet Room while you enjoy a Talihito (rum, lime, mint, strawberries and balsamic). Try to peek into the appropriately named Velvet Room, a popular spot for celebrities. For another option, the fifth-floor Roof Top Terrace is a summer hot spot for drinks, and in the winter, it converts into a cool ice bar.