GRETA GARBO “SLEEPS” AT BERLIN’S HOTEL ADLON – Travel Social History: Greta Garbo and many celebrities stayed at the HOTEL ADLON Kempinski. The finest hotel in BERLIN. One of the great hotels of the world.  Berlin was a port of call by train in 1929 — after sailing from New York to Germany aboard the SS BREMEN.

Garbo and Mauritz Stiller aboard ship on way to Germany where they stayed at the Adlon.

The restored Hotel Adlon Kempinski in Berlin.

Greta Garbo and many celebrities stayed at the beautifully restored HOTEL ADLON Kempinski.  Still the finest hotel in BERLIN.  The Adlon is one of the great hotels of the world.   Located in the very heart of Berlin, right by the Brandenburg Gate and in the immediate vicinity of the Reichstag, which houses the German Parliament, one of the world’s most illustrious luxury hotels in all its majestic splendor cordially welcomes its guests: not only is the Hotel Adlon a legend in its own time, it was – just like the famous Pariser Platz on which it is built – a witness of Germany’s eventful and turbulent history of the 20th century.

History of the Hotel Adlon Kempinski

On October 24, 1907 the Vossische Zeitung in Berlin reported: “Yesterday, His Majesty the German Emperor, Her Majesty the German Empress, the Princesses and the Princes visited the impressive building of the Hotel Adlon and paid their tribute to that site.” From this day on the history of the Hotel Adlon began taking its course – the history of a hotel which was built with the support of Emperor Wilhelm II, and which within three years would become the most beautiful and most luxurious hotel in the world.

The founder of the hotel was Lorenz Adlon, the son of a shoemaker from the city of Mainz. His professional career, however, did not begin with the hotel trade. In 1872 he finished his first apprenticeship as a carpenter.

His master was the well-known manufacturer Bembé, who later made the interior of the Hotel Adlon. During his apprenticeship as a carpenter, Lorenz Adlon had already begun to work in the catering business. He had his first experience catering for a large crowd in 1876, during festivities such as the Marksman Festival. By 1888 his reputation had grown to the point where he was put in charge of the catering for the World Fair of 1888 in Amsterdam. For the first time the name “Adlon” gained international recognition.

Meanwhile Lorenz Adlon had moved to Berlin, where in 1880 he acquired the famous restaurant “Hiller” at 55 Unter den Linden, where now the Cafe Einstein is located. In 1885 he expanded and purchased the “Zoo-Terrassen” in the Berlin Zoo. In 1889 Adlon bought his first hotel, the “Mille Colonnes” in Amsterdam, and a few months later the Hotel “Continental” in Berlin.

The fabulous Hotel Adlon lobby.

On the occasion of the “Industrial Exhibition” in 1896 he ran the “Hauptrestaurant von Adlon und Dressel” at Lake Neuen See. The second side of Lorenz Adlon’s business was his wine trade. It was said that more than a million bottles of wine were stored in his cellars in Berlin.

On August 16, 1925, Gerda Lundeqvist, Stiller and Greta Garbo. traveled to Berlin and stayed at the Adlon Hotel. The journey took two days and for Greta it was the first time abroad. The Germans welcomed the Swedish stars warmly.

Lorenz Adlon carefully invested the profit he made from his various business ventures, and was finally able to fulfill his lifelong dream, the building of his own hotel.

It took the architects Carl Gause and Robert Leibnitz only two years to complete the new “Hotel Adlon”, located at 1 Unter den Linden, next to the Brandenburg Gate. On October 24, 1907, the “Vossische Zeitung” wrote: “There is no doubt that the new hotel is a great achievement for a modern city, both in construction and the interior. To run such a building requires not only a great owner, but also the cooperation of architects, artists, artisans and technicians and a capital stock of 15 million.”

youTUBE video of Berlin in 1929 with views of the Hotel Adlon…

Families of the nobility sold their winter residences in Berlin to live in the suites of the Hotel Adlon. Wilhelm II fled from the drafty rooms of his palace to the warm coziness of the Hotel Adlon. The Foreign Office also liked to use the hotel as its unofficial guesthouse, as they did not have a guesthouse of their own to accommodate guests from abroad. Cleverly hidden behind the classic-conservative walls was a unique collection of technical equipment. Electricity as well as hot and cold running water were standard features of the new Hotel.


Hotel Adlon in 1928…

Headed by Lorenz Adlon, the Hotel Adlon soon became a place to see, but perhaps more importantly, a place to be seen. The royalty of Europe, the Tsar, the Maharajah of Patiala, Edison, Ford, Rockefeller, Rathenau, Stresemann and Briand were among those who stayed at the hotel, as well as Einstein, Sauerbruch, Strauss, Furtwängler and Karajan. Charlie Chaplin lost the buttons of his trousers to an excited Berlin crowd in front of the Hotel, and Marlene Dietrich was discovered at the Adlon. In 1929 the Berliner Morgenpost wrote “In the foyer of the Hotel you can hear the languages of all civilized countries.”


Sailing in the 1920s to Germany from New York on the SS Bremen (seen docked in Manhattan) was very popular. Upon arrival in Germany, tourists enjoyed a quick train ride from Hamburg to Berlin and then accommodations at the world famous Adlon Hotel in Europe’s favorite destination in the 1920s.

In 1931, ten years after Lorenz’ son Louis Adlon had become the Director of the Hotel, he became sole owner of the Hotel Adlon. His sister had already sold her share back to the Hotel. Lorenz Adlon was easily able to afford the amount due to the good turnover and occupancy. Between 1925 and 1930 between 1.5 and 1.7 million guests per year visited Berlin. Not surprisingly, a large number of them chose to stay at the Adlon. The “Griebens” travel guide called the Hotel Adlon a first-class-hotel, “Kiesslings Reiseführer”, predecessor of the famous Baedecker guide, also praised the wine restaurant as highly noble.

Adlon Hotel during the 1936 Olympics.

In the years of political and economic upheaval the Hotel Adlon became a location of political and diplomatic decisions. During the political welter of the pre-war period and the Third Reich, the Hotel Adlon was called “little Switzerland in Germany”. The SS preferred the Hotel Kaiserhof on Wilhelmstrasse. In 1936 the Olympic Games conferred pomp upon its “official Hotel”. Only Adolf Hitler avoided the Hotel – he only visited it once. Luckily, the Hotel managed to survive the Second World War without any extreme damage. In 1945, the rooms of the Hotel were no longer filled with luxury-seeking guests but with the moans of victims of the War, the nearly undamaged Hotel having been transformed into a military hospital. At this point, the only major noticeable scars left by the War were the walled up windows on the first floor.


1936 Olympic athletes heading to Berlin and the Hotel Adlon having sailed from New York to Hamburg on the SS Bremen…

On the night of May 2nd, 1945 a fire tragically demolished parts of the glamorous building. Nevertheless, the former GDR reopened the surviving lateral wing as a hotel. Despite the socialist climate, a guest at the Hotel could still find page-boys and bellhops – dressed in the original uniforms of the Hotel. In 1964, the building was even renovated and the facade was redone. However, a decision of the 1970s closed the doors of the original Hotel Adlon forever. The most luxurious hotel of the Roaring Twenties was to become a lodging house for apprentices. In 1984 even the building itself disappeared, torn down to make way for new construction.

With the reunification of Germany, the world was finally able to witness the rebirth of the grand Hotel Adlon. On August 23, 1997 the president of the Federal Republic of Germany opened the new Hotel Adlon, a Kempinski hotel, rebuilt on the same location as the original Hotel, directly opposite the Brandenburg Gate, reviving the high standards of luxury and service that had made the original Hotel so famous.

After five successful years, the Hotel Adlon is proud to present the new annex – the Adlon Palais.  It is situated between the Academy of Arts and the Hotel Adlon Kempinski.  The Adlon Palais is a spacious and sophisticated new building, enlarging the Hotel´s capacity for top-ranking events. The Palais will also house the exclusive members-only China Club, which is located on the top two floors and has its own roof terrace.

Dining at the Adlon in the 1920s.

Adlon Hotel survived World War 2 but was damaged by fire in 1945.

The devastating fire raged and almost entirely destroyed the magnificent building.  In accordance with a resolution made by the GDR’s National Council of Defense, the surviving wing of the building was demolished in 1984.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the reunification of Germany, the people in the reunified city of Berlin soon refused to be without their legendary hotel, and a few years later, in 1997, Roman Herzog, who was then the president of the Federal Republic of Germany, reopened the new Hotel Adlon in a splendid ceremony.  Since that day the truly “best hotel in town” has rejoiced in its past and present splendor and fame.


Hotel Adlon today…

When entering the Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin, you feel an atmosphere inspired by an illustrious past and a dynamic modernity.

More photos of the restored Hotel Adlon.

All facilities, from the Restaurant Quarré, the Gourmet Restaurant Lorenz Adlon and the Lobby Lounge & Bar to the guest rooms and suites, meet the most exacting demands for comfort, luxury and service. Hospitality in the best Hotel Adlon tradition has been reborn.

Contact the Hotel Adlon for information and reservations by clicking here.

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