The Emperor and Empress strode through the grand entrance of this new building, followed by the princess, princes and the entire royal household. It was not simply the opening of a hotel; it was more like an act of state. It is hard to imagine a more grandiose opening ceremony. Wilhelm II, who was far ahead of his time when it came to media relations, inaugurated Berlin's most stately world-class hotel, his hotel, at what was prime time in those days. Perfect he barked enthusiastically in his usual Prussian manner, and who would dare argue? The Adlon was thus ennobled, and the over 100-year history begins.
Let us take you on a journey through the history of Hotel Adlon!
Lorenz Adlon had the Emperor's full support when he opened Hotel Adlon on Pariser Platz 100 years ago – a fact documented by history. But there is a lot more to the history of the Adlon, as one might expect of a luxury hotel so steeped in tradition.
Hotel Adlon was not only the city's most prestigious hotel, but was also the most modern of its day, and the first to become famous not only for its luxurious rooms but, in keeping with the times, for being a social meeting place, too. The world's great and good stayed at the Adlon, held quiet talks here, and attended its magnificent balls and banquets. The international guest list reads like a Who's Who of the Kaiserzeit and the Weimarer Republik.
1905 – 1907
In 1905, Lorenz Adlon, a cobbler's son from Mainz, buys the "Redern" property between Unter den Linden and Behrenstrasse. It takes the architects Carl Gause and Robert Leibniz just two years to build Hotel Adlon on this site.
23 October 1907
Kaiser Wilhelm II inaugurates Hotel Adlon in a ceremony close to an act of state. The building costs for the new hotel amount to 17 million gold marks, an incredible sum in those days equivalent to around 400 million euros now. The investment paid off, however. The Adlon soon becomes a set venue for politicians and nobility.
Lorenz Adlon dies. His eldest daughter, Anna Förster, and her younger brother, Louis, inherit his fortune. On New Year's Eve of the same year, Louis Adlon meets Hedda. Shortly afterwards, he leaves his wife and children in favour of Hedda.
1925 – 1930
Around 1.5 to 1.7 million people visit Berlin each year. Many of them choose to stay at the Adlon. The travel guides all agree, the Adlon is more than just a fancy hotel, it has become a real tourist attraction.
In these crucial years of history, the Adlon becomes a place where political and diplomatic decisions are made. In the pre-war years, the hotel is often called "Berlin's little Switzerland".
The SS prefers to stay at the Kaiserhof hotel on Wilhelmstrasse. After it is totally destroyed during the air raid, the SS elite has to find a new place to hold its celebrations and decides on the Adlon.
The hotel is still practically unscathed, only the windows of the ground floor are bricked up. From the hotel rooms, one can hear the groans of the wounded who have been moved to a portion of the hotel that has been set up as a military hospital.
In the beginning of May 1945, a fire destroys the entire building except for one wing, thus sealing the fate of the hotel. Louis Adlon does not survive the war either and dies on the journey home from a Russian prison camp.
The provisionally repaired remains of Hotel Adlon are used as a hotel and restaurant again.
When the war left nothing more than the back economic wing of the Adlon, the hotel was not over. Poorly repaired by the staff, furnished by Russian soldiers with gilded rococo chairs from the Reichskanzlei, accessible via the rubble and backyards of Wilhelmstrasse, the restaurant was opened on the first floor above the kitchen in June 1945, one month after the surrender. In August, 16 rooms were initially rented.
2 December 1949
The hotel property is expropriated with no compensation to the owners; the remaining side wing is later turned into a state-owned hotel with the name "Hotel Garni VEB Adlon".
Hedda Adlon sells the pre-emptive rights for the real estate and the name "Adlon" to Kempinski AG.
The side wing of the hotel is renovated, and the facade is repainted. Right up to the mid-70s, this section of the hotel is still used as a hotel and restaurant. Despite being owned by a socialist state, there are still pages and valets at the hotel. They even wear the original pages' uniforms.
The hotel is converted into a hostel for hotel-trade apprentices.
The politburo of the governing Socialist Unity Party (SED) decides that the side wing of the hotel should be demolished. It is dynamited the same year.
1995 – 1997
Hotel Adlon is rebuilt. Architects Patzschke, Klotz and Parter model their design largely on the original but add two extra storeys. The building is financed by Fundus-Fonds-Verwaltungen GmbH in Cologne, and Kempinski is given a long-term lease contract.
Percy Adlon produces the TV film "The glamorous world of the Adlon Hotel".
23 August 1997
German President Roman Herzog and General Manager Gianni van Daalen inaugurate the new Hotel Adlon.
To provide these guests with even more comfort and the highest quality standards, the luxury hotel has been constantly refurbished and extended in recent years. Legendary Hotel Adlon was officially opened by the former President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Prof. Dr. Roman Herzog on 23 August 1997. The hotel at the Brandenburg Gate soon regained its popularity as a meeting place for international guests from the worlds of politics, business and show business. The Adlon has particularly established itself as a residence for state visits over the past 24 years. To provide these guests with even more comfort and the highest quality standards, the luxury hotel has been constantly refurbished and extended in recent years.
The gourmet restaurant Lorenz Adlon Esszimmer opens under Karlheinz Hauser and receives its first Michelin star only a year later. Hauser’s successor Thomas Neeser retains this star from 2002 to 2010. Hendrik Otto earns the second Michelin star in 2011.
Adlon-Palais was built with a second 450-sq m ballroom, three modern conference rooms and the China-Club and Club-Restaurant Felix operated by Adlon Holding.
The Residenz with 69 rooms and suites is added to the building on the Behrensstraße.
A third presidential suite, the Imperial Suite, is added, showcasing valuable antiquities and is integrated into the new 450-sq m security wing. This wing not only has its own dedicated lift, but also the latest security technology, as well as additional suites and rooms to accommodate guests.
New features are added to the front of the five-star hotel. The terrace with 170 seats and a view of the Brandenburg Gate was opened in the summer of 2000 and there has been a wine-red canopy over the hotel entrance since July 2006 so that guests can enter the lobby without getting wet.
To meet the increasing demand for suites, work commences on the conversion of 48 rooms into 24 luxury suites, most of which have a private fitness room and a sauna. These suites were finished in December 2006, so the Adlon now has over 385 rooms, including 78 suites.
Another highlight is added to the portfolio of the Grand Hotel – the Adlon Spa by Resense. Resense, a joint venture of Kempinski AG with Raison d’Etre, is the new operator of the luxury wellness area in Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin. Beauty treatments, massages and ultra-premium care programmes are offered in a unique ambience in an area of around 900 square metres.
The hotel extends its range of cuisine with the addition of restaurant SRA BUA. Now a trendy place to meet, this hot spot offers modern Asian freestyle cuisine with fresh seasonal produce.
The current highlight of the ongoing enhancements is the complete redesign of the public areas including the lobby. After a three-month redesign and renovation phase and an investment of six million euros, the heart of the hotel is now newly resplendent: architecturally streamlined and equipped with a new interior and modern lighting concept to coincide with the hotel’s 20th anniversary in 2017.
The event area on the ground floor is refurbished. The ballroom in particular has been transformed from a room rich in history to an aesthetically pleasing, modern multi-purpose space. Inspired by historic ballrooms, the choice fell on opulent chandeliers by Venini, the quality glass manufacturers from Murano, soft carpeting with the appearance of Versailles parquet flooring created by the “House of Tai Ping”, carpet makers of international renown based in Hong Kong, and giant mirrors made of Verre Églomisé created by the company “Verre D’Or”.
Hotel Adlon Kempinski celebrates its 25th anniversary and looks ahead to many more years of welcoming guests to Germany's fascinating capital.