Lux 11, Berlin
Where is it? In the heart of east Berlin's budding, multicultural Mitte district and flanked by indie boutiques, smart bars, traditional taverns and antediluvian cafes.
Traditional or modern? Both. Located in a series of whitewashed 18th-century row houses on Rosa-Luxemburg-Strasse, the hotel was once a key KGB listening post, reporting directly to Moscow. Today, following two years of meticulous refurbishment and a Euro12 million ($117 million) investment, the snug dimensions of this historic edifice have been transformed into 72 pared-down apartment-style rooms.
Who should visit? Young-ish self-sufficient business travellers and sybarites who prize a hip location and modernist aesthetics over a traditional full-service hotel with concierge. With no room service, each unit is instead outfitted with an unusually well-appointed kitchenette featuring such well-groomed flourishes as champagne flutes, red and white wine glasses and stylish Asian-accented white porcelain.
How is it different? Designed by architects Guiliana Salmaso and Goetz Maximilian Keller, the living quarters, in five variations from value to premier, are an achingly fashionable melange of minimalist furnishings. They come stocked with seductive and exclusive Linari room fragrances, gender-specific toiletries from La Bottega, high-definition flat-screen televisions, fax machines, DVD players and DSL high-speed internet access.
What's the district like? This is Berlin's most fashionable quarter, where bohemians armed with blowtorches shape giant metal sculptures on footpaths and artists spray-paint murals in empty lots. A must-see is the Hackescher Markt: an alluring web of cobbled streets and courtyards in which graffiti-covered historic buildings contain galleries and artists' lofts.
What is there to do? Following meetings and shopping, many guests head to the hotel's beauty salon and spa, one of only two Aveda operations in Berlin. For further self-indulgence, head to the basement, where a full-service wellness centre, complete with sauna and steam room, beckons. Cocktails await at the ground-floor bar.
What's on the menu? In the hotel's Asian fusion restaurant, shiro i shiro, guests enjoy delicacies such as chawan mushi; fish soup with shrimp tails; enoki and shitake mushrooms; or steamed scallop with cauliflower puree and blackcurrant sauce for starters. Braised shoulder of deer with almond shiso risotto and fresh shiso salad; and grilled seabass with yellow raisins and seaweed tofu ravioli are among the main courses.
What's the bottom line? Rooms cost from Euro115 a night.
Lux 11, Rosa-Luxemburg-Strasse 9-13, Berlin, tel: 49 30 9362 800; www.lux-eleven.com.