The gal was invited to a cultural evening at Swissôtel Berlin am Kurfürstendamm – the only challenge was that it was all in German. Actor (not ‘actress’ in today’s fashion world), Andrea Sawatzki was reading passages from her just-published second book, Tief durchatmen, die Familie kommt”. In English: Breathe deeply, the family is coming. Of course not speaking German was a disadvantage, but having a simultaneous translator in the form of Axel Missner, just arrived from Hotel Atlantic Kempinski, Hamburg, was a big help, as was the fact that a professional actor varies the tone and volume of words, and moves hands around in a magnetic way.
This was, I thought, a good opportunity to look at hotels from the female viewpoint. What do lady travellers want? Obviously a bit of culture works, and, working with a local publishing house, Swissôtel Berlin am Kurfürstendamm has regularly-irregular happenings. Dressing the part, or at least not being completely wrongly dressed, helps. Watch any German television and newscasters and weather women wear dull-coloured trouser suits, Merkel style. Go to this Sawatzki reading and every woman, except for Yours Truly, is in black or grey or dark brown or blue, with no apparent jewellery.
I went back up to my room. The elevators are glass-sided and as you soar up you can look down into the lobby, now turned into a meeting and relaxing venue, with a bar. Next requirement for a working gal is a room that works. Here, in 9023, I had a Nespresso machine (plus Samsung televisions, and Nespresso, and Rosenthal china and Hepp cutlery). My welcome strawberries came with gluwein, and a recipe. The desk is big, with plenty of sockets that are easily reached. Bathroom lighting is good, and there is ample storage space for toiletries. I also had lots of overall space, plenty of room to lie on the floor for morning exercises. And I had a view across Kurfürstendamm to a big Fitness First health centre (the hotel’s gym, by the way, is 24 hours).
Stay at Swissôtel Berlin am Kurfürstendammm, and you find everything you might want. First, the lobby, on the 3rd floor, has several areas for small meetings, or merely for chilling – it has recently been re-done, with lots of library-type alcoves, and shared tables. There are even three tall red arm chairs by designer Marcel Wanders, just as in Andaz Amsterdam (I felt immediately at home). I actually dined in my room, to save time. The menu has lots of healthy things, just right for the travelling girl-of-today, and the presentation was pretty as a proverbial picture. I was so impressed I told the server it was one of the best room service meals I ever remember, with a mimosa salad, as shown, followed by cubes of beef tartare with alpine-salt butter.
This girl has no problems sleeping but if you do, this is the hotel for you. It works with sleep consultant Dr Michael Field. One of the programmes they offer here involves standing in front of a particular bright light for 30 minutes, as soon as you wake up, and then drinking a herb special, before breakfast. I preferred, after my excellent night’s sleep, to head to the gym for a good work-out, to catch up on world news as I used up the calories. And then it was time for breakfast, which is fun as there are outstanding selections of nuts as well as all the usual early-day offerings. You can also see right into the kitchen.
This sensible luxury hotel is run by a clever Dutch GM, Bettina Schuett. She has just implemented an online book-purchase facility, to buy Tief durchatmen, die Familie kommt books from the hotel’s own library, in the lobby, via iTunes.com/swissotel. You could actually do a lot of buying while staying here, not only online but in reality. The hotel is right above a C&A, and opposite the Apple Store, and Berlin’s best-known department emporium, KaDeWe (Kaufhaus des Westens), is five minutes away. What more does a female traveller want?