The Brandenburg Gate was reopened in December 1989 in the course of the reunification of East and West Berlin.
This November will mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and events will be held throughout the city to celebrate the reunification of Germany. Here is the latest about that as well as news of recent hotel and airline developments.
Visitors to Berlin who want to learn about the fall of the Wall can go on a GPS-guided walking tour along the old boundary. They can also take part in guided or self-guided bicycle tours on the Wall path, visits to underground Berlin, former watch towers, Wall memorials, the GDR Museum, or a drive into the East of the city in an original GDR Trabant car. In November, 8,000 illuminated helium-filled balloons will be installed along nine miles of the former inner-city border. Visitors and locals alike will be able to walk along the illuminated path.
Kensington Tours has a Fall of the Berlin Wall 25th Anniversary itinerary that focuses on the history of the city, the country and its role in the Cold War. Tours will be led by private, local guides who will give personal perspectives on life before and after the reunification. Highlights include Checkpoint Charlie, Brandenburg Gate, The Reichstag, Berliner Dom, Hitler’s bunker, a synagogue, and the Berlin War Memorial.
The week will also include stops at special exhibits such as a light installation stretching 7.5 miles along the wall, and murals that constitute the biggest open-air gallery in the world, painted by 118 artists from 21 different countries. The open-air gallery takes place along the Oberbaumbruecke, turning the bridge into an “art mile.” After tours of Berlin, travelers will visit the palace of King Henri I in Potsdam.
On November 9, 2014, the permanent exhibition at the Berlin Wall Documentation Centre will reopen its doors for the public after a year’s renovation, welcoming visitors who will continue to be intrigued by the Wall’s history. And there is plenty to see in Berlin year-round beyond the Wall tributes, of course. Visitors should be sure to visit some of the memorials and monuments, including several that recognize the many different groups (Jews, gay people, Roma people, etc.) killed by the Nazis. One of the most historic squares in Berlin, Bebelplatz, has a glass plate in the ground that looks down into a room with empty bookshelves to recognize the notorious Nazi book burning of 1933.
Berlin is also home to more than 150 museums and galleries, three major opera houses, Charlottenburg and Sanssocui palaces, the Zoological Garden and a diverse gastronomy scene.
Hotel and Spa News
After two years of restoration, autumn 2014 will see the return of Hotel Zoo, which was built in 1891 as a private residence for an affluent family and converted to a hotel in 1911. Fun fact: For two decades, the hotel hosted VIPs (think Grace Kelly and Sophia Loren) during the annual Berlin International Film Festival. The townhouse hotel will use the original home’s brick walls, high ceiling and large windows. The property’s 145 rooms and suites will all be individually designed. The rooftop has top views across the city, with the hotel’s original sign hinting at its cinematic past.
The Hotel de Rome has a new Bebel Suite—reportedly the hotel’s largest with 650 square feet that (we hear) resembles a typical Berlin flat from the turn of the century. The suite is on the third floor with a balcony that overlooks the historic Bebelplatz; this luxury suite offers a unique entertaining space for guests visiting in the summer. Perks include limousine transfers from the airport, complimentary breakfast, luggage unpacking (and packing), ironing service, high-speed Wi-Fi.
All 309 rooms at the new Leonardo Hotel Berlin Mitte have flat-screen/satellite TV and free Wi-Fi.
The new Leonardo Hotel Berlin Mitte is a 10-story glass-and-metal hotel and includes design from Philippe Starck. All accommodations have flat-screen/satellite TV as well as free Wi-Fi, among other services. (The top room, we hear, is the nearly 1,000-square-foot Presidential Suite.) Disabled-friendly rooms and non-smoking rooms will also be available.
In June, Germany got its largest spa: The 21,500-square-foot Vabali Spa Berlin is right in the heart of the Mitte and has 11 saunas, a hammam and a rooftop terrace. Treatments include Ayurveda therapies,, Reiki, Shiatsu, Thai massages and algae body packs. There’s also a workout facility for those who need to flex their muscles before a massage.
Several Berlin hotels are slated to open in 2015, including the Hotel Riu Plaza Berlin and a new property from the Amano Group. The Hotel AMANO Grand Central will be directly across from the Berlin Central Train Station, and the Group’s largest hotel to date. It is expected to have 250 rooms and is slated to open in summer.
Flying to Berlin also provides a new experience. Airberlin recently added new “FullFlat” seats in its Business Class service on its new Airbus A330s. The product is the same found on the flights of its financial partner, Etihad Airways, but is more intimate in feel in that there are just 19 seats on airberlin’s service. All chairs have direct access to the aisle and can be completely reclined; there’s even a massage feature. Fifteen-inch monitors serve up current box office hits, TV programming, music and games; there are also USB ports.
Lufthansa is also upgrading its Business Class seats and expects to install total of 7,000 full-flat bed seats on 106 long-haul aircraft. The current in-flight service on long-haul routes will get more perks that, if successful, will be implemented on the entire long-haul network beginning in 2015. The process of refitting the long-haul fleet with the new Business Class will also be complete by summer 2015.
For its new Premium Economy Class, Lufthansa is launching a new seat that will give passengers up to 50 percent more room. Nice touches: Passengers will get real porcelain tableware with their meal service, and can take a second item of luggage with them at no extra charge. The first flight with these new seats is slated for October, and the installation should be complete by the end of 2015, at which point there’ll be a total of 3,600 seats in the long-haul fleet cabins.
Berlin Hotels’ ‘Wall’ Packages
The Westin Grand Berlin is offering a “Tear Down the Wall” package that lets guests chip their own wall piece from an original piece of the wall.
The Hotel Adlon Kempinski is offering an “Ich bin ein Berliner” package centering on Berlin’s post-war history for stays of at least two nights in an Executive Room. The package includes airport transfers to the hotel in an East German Trabant with guided tour, a tour of sites where key events took place leading up to reunification, tickets to The Kennedys Museum or the Neues Museum and a three-hour Spree river cruise or city tour.
The Brandenburg Gate is visible from a deluxe suite at Hotel Adlon Kempinski in Berlin.
Through the end of 2014, the Kempinski Hotel Bristol has a special package focusing on the Wall and its history. The deal includes two nights in a Superior room or Junior Suite, an in-room “wall surprise,” and a tour following the traces of the Wall in an original East German Trabant car with a personal guide.
The Maritim ProArte Hotel Berlin has a two-night anniversary package that includes a visit to the GDR Museum and a piece of the Wall as a souvenir.
The Grand Hyatt Berlin is organizing an exclusive celebration the evening of November 9 on the rooftop terrace of the E-Werk. The package includes two nights in a double room and a limo transfer to the party.
The Mövenpick Hotel Berlin has special deals for the anniversary weekend: Guests booking two nights for the weekend of November 7 to 9 will get a 20 percent discount. Guests at the hotel’s Restaurant Hof zwei, meanwhile, will save 25 percent.