For elderly Germans it is like looking at a ghost seeing the Adlon Hotel - one of the world's greatest pre-war hotels - back on its old site on the Pariser Platz, close to the Brandenburg Gate. But there it is, in place once again, after an enforced 52 year absence - six storeys high and complete with 337 luxurious guest rooms and two 'presidential' suites, many of them with a spectacular view of Berlin's most famous city symbol. For 28 years the communist-built Wall dividing Berlin ruled out any prospect of a 'new' Adlon going up on the Pariser Platz site. But after the barrier toppled in late 1989, and German reunification was sealed in October, 1990, investors did not take long agreeing plans to create an Adlon Hotel again in Berlin. The 'new' Adlon has been realised in two years by a German consortium at a cost of US$200 million (about HK$1.54 billion). And, it is every bit as grand and oppulent as its pre-war predecessor. The old Adlon, built in 1907, became famous in the 1920s and 30s. Celebrities galore stayed there, among them Enrico Caruso, Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Mary Pickford, Albert Einstein and Marlene Dietrich. Its godfather was Emperor Wilhelm II who was its first guest. He liked to boast that it was 'his' hotel. (There was some truth in this because without his aid the owner, Lorenz Adlon, would never have managed to build it.) This was at a time when running water, electricity and gas were not always available in the city. But the hotel had its own water supply and electric power plant - 110 volt light bulbs had to be produced specially for the hotel which was famous for its light and brightness. Emperor Wilhelm, apparently, paid a fixed annual fee of US$100,000 to guarantee rooms for his guests, whenever they needed to stay at the hotel. But the hotel's life span lasted barely 38 years. Incredibly, it survived World War II. But just two days later, with Berlin's war-shattered buildings still smouldering, a fire shot from the basement up to the roof. The hotel cracked like a doll's house, and within 30 minutes was destroyed. In tumbledown post-war Berlin, a few of its surviving rooms were used as a bar and eating establishment for some years. For the 'new' Adlon, skilled interior designers, artists and craftsmen from a host of countries in Europe were called to work on its exquisite interiors. A Stockholm firm designed all its guest rooms and suites, and British artists were hired to do the decorative painting of its dining-room and ballroom walls and ceilings. German workers were responsible for its plumbing as well as its wrought-iron landings and ballustrades, Austrians installed its cherry-wood doors and room cupboards, and Italians attended to its inlaid woodwork, and fanciful glass and chandelier fittings. The Adlon's charmingly designed cupola resembles its pre-war original. The return of the Adlon means Berlin can boast a truly luxurious, five-star hotel once again - one with a galaxy of posh boutiques, hairdressing salons, and Lalique glass-wear shop. The Adlon, which will employ a staff of 350, plans to start operating on June l. In October it will have a grand opening to mark the 90th anniversary of the original 1907-built hotel.