When visiting sprawling Berlin, its art-swathed outer neighborhoods are just as essential a site as are its central historic landmarks. Districts brimming with counterculture have been a defining part of Berlin since the end of the Cold War. And of these neighborhoods, Kreuzberg is among the most famous. If tidy and touristy Brandenburg Gate embodies the Berlin of the past, then diverse and artistic Kreuzberg embodies the Berlin of today—and it’s worth staying in with the help of one of the area’s most historic and comfortable properties: Hotel Orania.Berlin.
Hotel Orania Berlin
Here’s why exploring cool Kreuzberg by way of this carefully curated hotel is a Berlin activity that’s just as essential as seeing the Brandenburg Gate.
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Kreuzberg may not be the center of Berlin, but it’s very central. Just south and east of Checkpoint Charlie and the central borough of Mitte, Kreuzberg straddles the line that once separated West and East Berlin. Hotel Orania is a historic Art Nouveau landmark overlooking Kreuzberg’s leafy Oranienplatz, and is walking distance to Berlin’s best art-scene and nightlife highlights. The must-see East Side Gallery of famed Berlin Wall murals is a ten-minute bike ride, and the cafes, Turkish restaurants, and bars that share Oranienstrasse with Hotel Orania stay open until the early hours of the morning. During the day, don’t miss Markethalle Neun’s local food stalls, waterfront Prinzessinnengarten’s garden-nestled cafes and murals, and the Landwehr Canal where bars and galleries line a route to the Badeschiff—a floating swimming pool in the Spree River that provides a skyline view. Kreuzberg is large and therefore best navigated by public transit or bike. Ebikes by Uber and other standard bikeshares like Mobike can typically be found in and around Oranienplatz, and rented via Smartphone for a few Euros.
The building dates back to 1912 and is one of the few in the city that wasn’t destroyed in World War II. It has hosted acts for the area’s lively music scene since 1913 (and still does today), and, in true Berlin fashion, housed a 90s club named Trash the same year that it earned its national monument status. Today it’s an artfully curated luxury hotel with a restaurant and bar that’s frequented by locals and visitors alike—especially for the Michelin-star chef’s famous Peking duck specialty: a four-course tasting meal that includes crispy duck skin served alongside savory crepes, hoisin, and cucumber, not to mention a must-try list of German wines and hand-crafted cocktails.
Hotel Orania has 41 rooms, ranging from very cozy to the sprawling top-floor suite and salon popular for weddings and other celebrations. All have huge windows that guarantee bright light and romantic views, but choosing a slightly upgraded room goes a long way in affordable Berlin. Larger rooms and suites include a living area, both a shower and large tub, double bathroom vanities, and sometimes a separate half bath. The view from the Oranienplatz side and its surrounding historic architecture might make you feel like you’re staying in Paris rather than Berlin. All room specifications and inclusions can be found on Hotel Orania’s website, so you know just what you’re getting ahead of time.
Hotel Orania’s ground-floor restaurant, Orania.Restaurant, is as central to a stay here as are its artistic rooms and common areas. Michelin-star-awarded Chef Philipp Vogel’s Shanghai training shines in a four-course duck meal that’s a cutting-edge take on traditional Peking duck, including a duck dashi wonton soup, crispy duck skin (only the skin, removed delicately from the succulent duck in front of diners for maximum effect) wrapped in crepes, and duck breast followed by duck-leg fried rice. There are of course other options on the menu, but locals and guests alike flock here for the four course adventure.
The top floor salon captures Hotel Orania’s sprawling views of the city, East Berlin’s TV tower included, and is open for guest use when it’s not being rented. The salon is worth enjoying with your morning coffee or during a lazy afternoon; peak out one of the Juliet balconies for the view or enjoy a book (waiting for you in Hotel Orania’s many stocked bookcases, if you forgot your own). Bike rentals are available through the hotel for about $20 per day. But the main draw of Hotel Orania is its lobby piano bar and lounge where live music is regularly scheduled—and it consistently sees a lively crowd. You can find a current calendar of live acts on the Hotel Orania Berlin website.
Price and How to Book
Small rooms at the Orania Hotel Berlin start around $180 per night when you book in advance, and larger rooms’ double-the-space upgrade start around $350 per night. Breakfast can be included or purchased separately depending on the room. Multi-room suite rates begin around $550, and all inclusions and views are easy to see online ahead of your stay. Concert tickets are also available separate of hotel stays for music events, but most shows are free.
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SmarterTravel’s Shannon McMahon writes about all things travel and stayed at the Hotel Orania as a guest of the property. Follow her on Instagram @shanmcmahon.