Orania.Berlin, Berlin, Germany

Home to a welcome-all speakeasy, top-notch restaurant, nightly live music and East-meets-West aesthetics, this boutique hotel set in the former Oranienpalast Café is fast becoming an institution in edgy Kreuzberg

roaring fire and exquisitely squishy armchairs and sofas
invite me to take a seat beside a Steinway piano. Renderings of
elephants speckle fabrics in shades of crimson, green and golden
turmeric. Hardwood floors clack underfoot. Beside me, cracked
floor-to-ceiling glass windows look out onto Oranienplatz as a
faint scent of roasted duck peppers the air.

I’m at Orania.Berlin, one of the German capital’s most
enticing new hotels. A half-hour stroll of Checkpoint Charlie and
10 minutes from Kottbusser Tor (where you’ll find the hotel’s
nearest U-Bahn station), it’s set within the historically anarchic
kiez of Kreuzberg – once among the poorest areas in West Berlin.
Today, the neighbourhood is a happy medley of brutalist
architecture, Middle Eastern culture, 20-something expats and some
of the finest restaurants, bars and nail studios in Berlin.

At just three years old, Orania.Berlin hasn’t been without its
teething problems. The only five-star hotel in the area and set in
the former Oranienpalast Café, its lobby windows were decorated
with fractures by anti-gentrification protesters shortly after
opening in 2017. Helmed by proud Germans who’ve seen the city
thrive in the face of adversity, the hotel took the decision to
leave the windows splintered as a symbol of their sympathy.

Heading things up are husband-and-wife team Phillipp and
Jennifer Vogel, who remain conscious of creating a refined
establishment in a place that’s more graffiti and noodles than jazz
piano and tasting menus. It’s for this reason that Orania.Berlin
carries itself with understated finesse and respect. Most produce
is sourced from local independent shops, bakers and makers, and the
door is open for anyone to come in and play the piano, sing, drink,
dine, dance or simply read and sip coffee.


It’s a casual five-star experience at Orania.Berlin, though
steeped in warm hospitality. You won’t see gilt, crystal, mirrored
televisions or suited bellboys in your suite. Instead, there’s warm
tones, lots of wood, cushioned window seats (request one
overlooking the square) and smatterings of original features. Most
trappings, from handmade trinket boxes to organic cosmetic products
by Prenzlauer Berg and Urban Cosmetics, support small businesses
that use all-natural materials – you won’t see any plastic or tacky
modern artwork here. As for snuggling up, all rooms have warm
lighting, rugs galore and waffled cotton robes in bright colours.
The Orania.Loft suite has its own fireplace.

What’s for breakfast?

Guests can enjoy globally inspired frühstück of Japanese-style
omelette, grüne eier und schinken (green eggs and ham), smoked
salmon or pancakes. I urge you to order the shakshuka: perfectly
baked organic eggs in a sweet tomato and pepper sauce with
chickpeas and fresh herbs. Compliment your feast with rich coffee,
fresh juices, toasted sourdough, rye or walnut bread as well as
fresh fruits and granola – as much as you’d like. You can also go
mad on an array of kombucha offerings or a hardy bloody Mary.

What about lunch and dinner?

A wildly inventive yet somehow gorgeously simple duck-only
evening menu has been curated to huge local acclaim. As
self-confessed duck fetishist, I was thrilled to get a moment with
chef Phillipp Vogel, who told me how his time spent working in
China altered his palate. He admits that he would never dare to
replicate Peking duck, so instead, he’s put together an insane
SOUP, SKIN, BREAST, DRUM tasting menu. Highlights of the banquet
include dim sum in shitake and dashi broth and a reimagined hoisin
pancake affair, with additional skin, pickled ginger and brown
sugar. I’m in heaven. The glistening duck that arrives at the table
has been marinated, steamed and roasted until meltingly tender. A
small à la carte menu with fish, vegan and spaetzle options also
exists, and lunch here might look something like a light octopus
salad, a pastrami sandwich or buckwheat waffles with duck

Is there a bar?

The ever-changing, ever-experimental bar, complete with
high-backed leather stools (why don’t more bars have these to
support my martini adventures?) has become a go-to for classy
tipples soundtracked by whoever is tinkling on the ivories that
evening. You might go for a “Nordic Colada” with aquavit,
passionfruit and coconut or “La Grande Dame”, concocted of yuzu,
champagne and vanilla.


The lovely basement gym is neatly tucked away because, really,
the only exercise most visiting Berliners are getting is on the
dance floor and in the dark rooms. A white-hot concierge and
smiling team (hi Yvonne!) are always at the ready with food,
dancing and shopping recommendations for the area, but should you
want to hideaway, you can order from the restaurant and collect
from the lobby. Be assured that the building is so hardy and so old
– plus live music ends before the witching hour – that no sound
carries through the floors. In fact, there are few reasons for you
to leave your king-size. Unless it’s duck you’re after.

Things I should know…

The beloved party and anarchy scene of Berlin eclipses so much
of what the city is about. Anarchy is great when there’s a purpose;
read about Berlin before you visit and find out how different
businesses are supporting urban growth in healthy ways, not setting
the city alight. Check Orania’s website to time your visit with
some of their most celebrated live listings, chat to locals on
arrival and take in the area rather than hiding away.

Within a short walk I can find…

Be sure to explore nearby Markethalle Neun (Orania buys its
bread from here), the gorgeous Viktoriapark in summer and lose
yourself in the record shops, bookstores and bars of Oranienstraße
and Dresdener Straße –
apothecary-turned-cocktail bar
ORA is mere minutes away on

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