by Nicola Trup, The Independent, April 28, 2017
Hidden down a quiet street in Berlin's Prenzlauer Berg district you'll find a chic hotel that's making quite a splash – just be sure to keep an eye out or you might walk straight past it.
Hotel Oderberger is housed within an imposing brick building (with a very discreet sign) that for almost a century served as a public bathhouse. Closed in 1986, it underwent a four-year renovation that kicked off in 2012 before reopening as a hotel in January 2016. Original features have been carefully restored, and private bathing rooms have now been turned into guestrooms.
The original pool reopened last October, and it really is spectacular; the blue-tiled bath sits within a large, echoey room that's all vaulted ceilings, columns and arches. The pool is open to the public (there are even weekly tours available), though rather surprisingly hotel guests have to pay to swim too – albeit at a discounted rate.
The Oderberger was still a work in progress during my visit in January 2017 – there were wires in the hallway waiting to be connected to light fixtures, keycard pads that hadn't been activated, and one day I was woken up at 8.30am by noisy building works in the room next door. However, the hotel told me it expected to have everything finished “asap” and, since I stayed, the restaurant has started serving breakfast. It should be fully operational by June, and the spa was unveiled this month.
Already fully open is the cosy bar off the reception area, complete with log fire and well-stocked shelves.
The hotel is five minutes on foot from the Eberswalder Strasse metro station. It's also within walking distance of the Berlin Wall Memorial; don't miss the fascinating open-air displays along the way, describing what life was like for residents of this area when the wall was erected and, in some cases, when their houses were used as the border.
Also close by is the KulturBrauerai, the “Culture Brewery”, which hosts performing arts and workshops, a Sunday street food market and a small permanent exhibition on life in the GDR.
Peckish? There are plenty of cool places to dine nearby, whether you want modern Turkish and bare brick walls at Osmans Toechter or burgers in fluffy steamed buns, with colourful graphic prints hanging overhead, at Bun Bao.
The rooms are stylish while still retaining some original features. In my Comfort double, the old bathing room door – complete with peeling paint – had been encased in glass and used as a sliding door for the shower room, while clothes hooks, tiling and old benches were all visible in the bedroom. Walls were freshly whitewashed brick, set off by minimalist furniture, copper lamps and grey fabrics. Two freestanding radiators took up a huge amount of space and caused more than one stubbed toe – they were clearly new, so I'm not sure quite why the hotel didn't opt for a slimline wall-mounted version instead.
As well as Premium rooms and Junior Suites, you'll find Maisonettes, which come complete with mezzanine sleeping areas, and apartments tucked into the eaves, each sleeping between two and eight people.
Oderberger Strasse 57, Berlin, Germany (00 49 30 780089 760; hotel-oderberger.berlin).
Doubles from €125.50, B&B.
Access: Three wheelchair-accessible rooms