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REVIEW – Das Stue, Berlin (Embassy Room)

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Das Stue

  • Location: Berlin
  • Rate: €208 per night
  • Room Type: Embassy Room (upgraded from Stue Room)
  • Chain: Design Hotels
  • Loyalty Program: N/A
  • Date: January 2016
  • Website: Das Stue


Intro

Whilst our stay at the Sofitel Kurfurstendamm was purely functional (although perfectly lovely for what it was), the main event for this trip was our stay at Das Stue – a hotel which I had been wanting to visit for a long time. The photos I had seen showed a beautifully modern and exciting design aesthetic, housed within a grand old building; the former Danish embassy no less. The restaurant and bar are two of the best in town and the hotel is located right next to the zoo with some rooms having views of the animals (more on that later).

Berlin is a city that despite its obvious charms, is still very reasonably priced when it comes to hotels, restaurants and nightlife. There aren’t many major Western European cities where you can expect to pay less than $250 for the best hotel in town. In the summer time the rates are a lot higher but I loved the idea of visiting in the winter when all the nearby parks would be covered with a blanket of powdery white snow.

 

Arrival

The taxi ride over from the Sofitel took around 5 minutes but it felt like we’d driven all the way into a different world. The monolithic stone and glass entrance fit perfectly with the still wintry surroundings. We pulled up to the curb but were not greeted by any doormen, having to wheel our bag across the cobblestones ourselves…

You know you’re staying in the right place when the hotel car is an Audi R8


The lobby of the hotel is very striking, with an enormous carved alligator head greeting guests under a canopy of hanging lights


Past the alligator and the plants you have the concierge on the left and check-in on the right.

We arrived at noon and were happy to be told that our room was already available. The benefits of our Fine Hotels and Resorts booking were explained to us (FHR is probably my favourite Amex Platinum benefit after the travel insurance).

Once again, the benefits provided an outsized value when compared to the cost of the room. Daily breakfast for two usually costs €50, plus we were given €85 of credit towards food and drink in the hotel bar and restaurant. So €135 of benefits on a €208 stay. We effectively paid €73 for the room and that’s without putting a cash value on the guaranteed 4pm checkout and room upgrade…

 

Stue Room

We were handed off by the receptionist to another member of staff, who guided us along a corridor, out of the main building and into the new wing. First impressions of the room were great, quite compact but extremely stylish.

Loads of very cool recessed lighting, natural materials, cool colours and of course, a swan chair!


The bed? A little on the small side but looked like a cloud, ready to burst.

As well as being aesthetically pleasing, the design of the Stue Rooms is very functional. The bathroom wall slides back and forth in order to open up the room and allow natural light into the bathroom. Note, there is no separate TV but the iMac comes loaded with entertainment as well as connecting to usual TV channels.

Stue Room


A large workspace with plenty of both artificial and natural light, loads of power sockets too.


Nespresso machine with bottle of complimentary mineral water.


The view from the bathroom


Toiletries at Das Stue are Molton Brown, which actually seemed like a big step down from the Lanvin products at the Sofitel.


The room had a great view into the Zoo


We thought it was really cool when two ostriches came out of hiding.


Then one of them locked eyes on me and suddenly it occurred to me… the windows aren’t tinted or reflective.

When some people walked past and actively looked up at the rooms this confirmed it. We had no privacy.

Whilst the room was very cool, it clearly wasn’t an upgrade. I wouldn’t have been too fussed given that we were only here for one night (and getting such value anyway); however I really didn’t like the idea of people watching us the whole time we were in the room, particularly since our plan was to just hang out in bed and order room service.

So I went through the standard routine:

  1. Log onto the hotel wifi
  2. Check that next best class of room is still available for sale
  3. Head to the desk and ask for my upgrade!

I spoke with the receptionist and mentioned the fact that we didn’t really like the lack of privacy, plus we had been hoping for a room with a bathtub. Afte typing away for a few seconds she said that she had a room which would be more to our liking. This time we went straight up to the rooms within the main embassy building and were shown a room with super high ceilings but very little light coming in through the small windows and no bathtub.

“Ah, I thought this room had a bathtub”, she said.

After a quick call through to one of her colleagues she said that she had found us a room that we were certain to love…. she was right!

 

Embassy Room

As we had just witnessed, the embassy room category at Das Stue can be quite varied, so it is worth being specific with your requests at the time of booking. I can imagine that this room is particularly popular in the warmer months, due to the absolutely enormous balcony.

Floor to ceiling windows flood the room with light, something which is particularly welcome in the depths of January.


The bed looked like a taxidermied Marshmallow man, it was unbelievably comfortable.


It was pretty hard to resist jumping onto the bed before taking pics.


Much like the lead-in room category. The Embassy Rooms don’t feature separate TVs, relying instead on the iMac as an entertainment centre.


Our welcome amenity of fruit and mineral water.


A note on the desk informed us of the fact that turndown is by request only. We just called and asked for water, as opposed to a full turndown, early in the evening.


Nespresso – only three capsules but we were able to request more without issues.


The layout of the room made it feel very spacious


This little reading area with the swan chair was a nice touch


The bathroom was considerably larger than the one we saw in the Stue Room, with a free standing bathtub looking out across the rooftops of the old embassy district and the park.


Embassy room – bathroom


Small detail – speaker next to the power sockets, permitting you to listen to music being streamed on the iMac.


Molton Brown toiletries


Molton Brown toiletries


Not the best weather but it was great to have such a massive outdoor space.


The view across the rooftops was particularly impressive at night, as the city centre twinkled in the distance


After an enormous dump of snow it became a winter wonderland. Kamara was particularly impressed when I got her with a snowball as she showered in the morning 😀


Back indoors the minibar was quite high end.


A variety of soft drinks including complimentary water


My favourite gin in the world! Monkey 47.

 

Dining

The hotel features two restaurant from world renowned Spanish chef Paco Perez: The Michelin starred ‘Cinco’ – a formal restaurant which was closed for the month of January, when we visited and ‘Casual’, which as the name implies was a little more laid back.

The great thing about room service at Das Stue is that it comes straight from the kitchen of one of the city’s most exclusive restaurants. Whilst most people have to book a couple of weeks in advance, we were able to enjoy the amazing cuisine in bed !

Almost as soon as we arrived, we ordered this tortilla de patatas. It was cooked perfectly with a slightly runny centre and complimented by two delicious anchovy and guindilla pepper skewers.

 

After an afternoon spent walking around the park and the old embassy district, we changed into our evening clothes, ready for a few drinks at the bar followed by dinner at ‘Casual’.

Ready to roll


The Bar extends across a large, living room type space, decorated with a range of designer furniture. I really like how it manages to be cool and modern without resorting to the purple plastic and neon lights which are so popular at W hotels. Casual is located behind the curtains on the right.


A more traditional bar area for people that just have to sit a on a stool (whilst watching black and white movies on a projector).


A slightly less traditional stool

On our way to the bar we popped our head into Casual, to ask if a table was available. We were disappointed to be told that no tables would be available for at least an hour. I get that the restaurant is popular but you would expect that a table would always be held back for hotel guests. Alternatively, if reservations were necessary it would have been nice to be told during check-in.

Oh well, I wasn’t massively bothered given that the cocktail list looked strong and the ambiance was very relaxed. When we sat down we were asked if we were eating or just having drinks. I said that we might offer a couple of starters just to tide us over, as a table wasn’t available. Straight away the server offered to seat us at the bar if we wanted. I said it was fine, that we preferred to sit in the proper restaurant and didn’t mind having a couple of drinks first.

I went with a champagne cocktail which was mixed perfectly, whilst Kamara went with a G&T served in a cut crystal glass.


We split the Tuna Tataki, which was pretty damned spectacular and surprisingly generous for €14

Just as we were finishing our drinks, the F&B manager came over to apologise for the fact that we’d been made to wait for a table. I told her not to worry but she insisted on comping us the drinks and tataki. She then asked us to follow her when we were ready and she would take us to our table.

I was surprised to see quite a few empty tables once we got in, I guess they were having a bit of an off day when it came to managing their capacity.


The bread selection was excellent, thick and crunchy farmhouse bread served alongside pretzel rolls. This was accompanied by whipped butter and olive oil.


We opted to eat tapas style (billed as ‘sharing experience’ in the menu) and ordered a large portion of Cod Croquetas, which were exceptionally crunchy on the outside and pillowy soft on the inside. Not a hint of oiliness either. Really good. The octopus was also perfectly cooked, grilled to the point that a slight burnt bitterness came through, whilst the flesh remained tender.


We then went with the Steak Tartare which was beautifully presented inside some enormous, hollowed bones sitting atop a bed of salt crystals. The crunchy strings of onion, the pop of the quail’s egg yolk, the firm tenderness of the beef – it all combined to form a superbly balanced and exciting take on this classic dish.

 

Breakfast was also served in Casual, this time there were no problems in getting a table 😉

I just can’t get enough of the design at this hotel.


Our FHR rate included breakfast which was a combination of buffet and a la carte options

The buffet wasn’t as outrageously OTT as the likes of the Fairmont Manila but it was certainly very extensive, given the number of rooms and every element was of a very high quality.

Freshly baked bread and croissants. An extensive variety of fruits.


Carb-land


Carb-land II


Sparkling wine, or for those that prefer a healthier sparkling beverage – Kombucha.


A variety of Spanish cheeses and even a pan con tomate station!


Beautifully presented house cured salmon. All the cold items were sitting on shiller plates, as opposed to using crushed ice. I love how they used the black slate and banana leaves too.


A la carte Huevos rancheros. Baked eggs with guacamole, bacon, chili and coriander.

After a sizeable breakfast we went for a walk through the winter-wonderland that had formed overnight, surrounding the hotel.

Then we decided to head back to bed and enjoy some room service before our late checkout. The guaranteed 4pm checkout on FHR rates is so, so useful for weekend breaks. It really has to be one of the top reasons to own the Amex Platinum card.

No waiting for this ‘table’


It comes with a decent view too 🙂


Room service was super fast and beautifully presented, on an enormous silver platter. The Le Creuset pot was filled with some outrageously rich and unctuous gnocchi. First we ate two ‘bones’ of steak tartare then then half of the gnocchi. At this stage I had the genius idea of throwing the final bit of steak into the remaining gnocchi. It was one of the greatest ideas of all time. It was probably one of the best things I ate all year and this happened in January… in bed.

Conclusion

I’m glad we’d been to Berlin a few months previously and didn’t really have to worry too much about missing out on the city. Berlin is an amazingly vibrant and exciting place but Das Stue’s appeal is so great that you really don’t want to leave its embrace. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. For me, living within a couple of hours flight, I think it’s absolutely the former. If I want to see the city I’ll probably stay somewhere East again, if I want a luxurious escape I’ll be back at Das Stue.

Winter Weekend in Berlin

Part 1:
Sofitel Berlin Kurfurstendamm
Part 2:
Das Stue – Berlin

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