In our series “Hotel Crush” we follow hot on the heels of our magazine – into the best hotels in town. Each month we introduce you to a new Berlin&I partner hotel. This month we are proud to present the Hotel Bogota and their cult Berlinale-themed photography exhibition which kicks off today.
The Hotel Bogota in Charlottenberg is a delicious bundle of contradictions – it is reasonably priced, but frequented by A-list celebrities; it opened in the 1960s, but is steeped in history; and it is situated near to one of West Berlin’s busiest shopping thoroughfares, yet it is quiet and secluded. It is a hotel for visitors who enjoy character and intrigue, and don’t like a huge dent to be made into their purses for the privilege.
Built as an apartment house in 1911, and converted from four hotels on its four floors into the Hotel Bogata in 1967, the rooms range from the simple and subdued to the ornate and elegant – and are priced accordingly. Retaining original features, the hotel has an old-world feel, with wood panelling and Juliet balconies and corniced columns giving the place a charming, lived-in feel. Browns and creams dominate, the floors creak naughtily and the whirring hum of the ancient lift is strangely comforting. It is about as far as you can get from the glitz and rush of the 21st-century glass and steel hotels that abound in the city, which is precisely the draw for guests who hanker for something different and intriguing – not least tiny bathrooms with little windows looking out into the bedroom, just one of many quirks of this lovable retreat. Little wonder the actor and writer Rupert Everett claims it is his favourite hotel in the world.
If walls could talk, as they say…in 1942 the Nazis murdered the German fashion photographer, Yva, who lived on the fourth and fifth floors of Schluterstr 45; the same year the Nazis confiscated the building, and turned it into the Reich Chamber of Culture, instigated to promote Aryan art and denounce work by ‘degenerates’. The offices of Hans Hinkel, the SS officer in charge of the Chamber, is now the Bogota’s television lounge (no doubt Hinkel is spinning in his grave at the sort of degenerate art being broadcast from the set). The building has had strong links with art from the beginning – jazz legend Benny Goodman played there, works by the Impressionists and Van Gogh have been housed there, and to this day the hotel is a venue for exhibitions (including its current show, showcasing the Berlinale’s official photographer). Helmut Newton was a frequent visitor (and was once taught by the aforementioned Yva), and Keira Knightly was photographed by Mario Testino for Vogue within the Bogota’s walls (check out the stunning pictures here).
The only real frills you’ll find at the Bogota are hanging from the lampshades. The hotel is functional and formal, unfettered by the fussy, demanding staples of modern living. It harks back to a simpler age, an age of style and restraint. If you want treadmills and flatscreen TVs in every room, you just booked into the wrong place.
The hotel is close to the Kurfürstendamm boulevard, which not only has just about every shop you could imagine, but about four of them dotted along the length of the street. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from, but at the Café am Literaturhaus on Fasanenstraße eat, drink and be literary at one of their regular readings or salons.
To coincide with the Berlinale, the hotel is exhibiting portraits taken at the film festival by Gerhard Kassner, the official photographer of the Berlinale for the past ten years. The portaits will be accompanied by anecdotes from Kassner about how he managed to capture the various celebrities (including Jeff Bridges, Martin Scorsese George Clooney and Leonardo DiCaprio) on film as actors and directors are hustled from one event to another during the Berlinale’s hectic ten days. Like the Bogota, Kassner’s portraits are formal, smart and more than at first meets the eye. The exhibition runs from February 7th to 16th; on February 7th, 11th and 16th Kassner himself will be present from 9pm to present his photographs.
Schlüterstraße 45, Berlin-Charlottenburg
Tel: +49 (0)30 / 881 50 01