“Never say no when a client asks for something, even if it is the moon. You can always try, and anyhow there is plenty of time afterwards to explain that it was not possible.”

César Ritz (23 February 1850 – 24 October 1918) the famous Swiss hotelier and founder of several hotels, most famously the Hôtel Ritz, in Paris and The Ritz Hotel in London. His nickname was “king of hoteliers, and hotelier to kings,” and it is from his name and that of his hotels that the term ritzy derives. His legacy lives on with the Ritz-Carlton Hotels Chain.

HAPPY NEW YEAR – 2010 Choice: The best hotel in Berlin: the Ritz-Carlton.

Happy New Year from Cruising The Past —- We begin 2010 by confirming our choice for the best hotel in Berlin – the Ritz Carlton.

Celebrating a Berlin New Year, we are staying at the Ritz-Carlton.  This is a great way to relieve the grand manner of five star service once found on the great German trans-Atlantic liners… operated by North German Lloyd and the Hamburg-America Line.

Berlin’s Ritz-Carlton is under the superb and meticulous direction of  General Manager Robert Petrovic. This deluxe hotel is located near what was formerly a section of The Berlin Wall.  It is in the center of the new Berlin.  It is also the choice of world famous celebrities.  The five star plus hotel offers 303 rooms, 40 suites, and The Ritz-Carlton Apartment as well as The Ritz-Carlton Club.  Besides providing the utmost in comfort – the Ritz offers the kind of elegant service and cuisine that is so rare today.  Trip Advisor gives the hotel a very high rating – one of the best in Berlin.

The staff exhibits the service once found in the great palace hotels of Europe and the fabulous Trans-Atlantic German liners of the 1930s.  The TS Bremen and TS Europa were Germany’s fabulous ocean liners built for the Norddeutscher Lloyd line (NDL) in 1929 for the transatlantic passenger service.  These fabulous German ships offered great service from New York to Europe.  They also featured a unique a la carte restaurants operated by César Ritz.

What Mr. Petrovic and his excellent staff provide at his wonderful Berlin hotel is a tradition of this great service found aboard these great ships.  Real service – in the finest great European Palace hotel tradition.  This kind of service that is a rare memory in the world today – but available at the Ritz-Carlton in Berlin.

(Left – (1) Bistro Desbrosses at the Ritz-Carlton Berlin New Year’s Eve 2010: (2) A million Berliners celebrated the New Year at the Brandenberg Gate) The Berlin Ritz-Carlton’s wonderful features are exhibited in the French Brasserie Desbrosses which dates back to 1875.   The food, decor and service are impressive – all excellent.  This is a restaurant that is a museum – moved from Paris to Berlin – in itself with cuisine to match the finest in France and service in the great tradition of German perfection.

From Executive Chef Joergen Sodermann, to his able staff – including expert personal service by Michael Starke at breakfast, Tristan Missner at New Year’s Eve dinner and Robert Skala New Year’s Day.  The excellent bistro is beautifully managed by Marcus Scharon – making the Desbrosses one of the top restaurants in Berlin.

The original location of this elaborate cafe, erected in 1875, had been a quiet French village Macon. Then piece by piece it was transported to Berlin and assembled with a scrupulous precision. Every detail there is authentic – chairs, art deco lamps and mirrors.

Edith Gerhardt, Hotel Manager, does an excellent job of assisting the guest’s many wishes – staff members such as Henriette Dobler help make this possible.

Built on the Berlin Wall’s site, the Ritz-Carlton is the center of a vibrant and modern lifestyle.   The hotel’s excellent location is widely seen as one of the hottest, most exciting building sites in Europe, and the subject of much debate amongst architects and planners. If Berlin needed to re-establish itself on the world stage, then Potsdamer Platz is the key area for the  the city to express itself. More than just a building site, Potsdamer Platz is a statement of intent and change.  It is one of the places to be in Berlin.  The Berlin International Film Festival (February) is a one of the great institutions making its home in the Potsdamer Platz.  A nearby chic bar – Billy Wilder’s – honors the famous American (German) film director.

The Ritz-Carlton has many hotels in its chain but without a doubt the Ritz-Carlton in Berlin is carrying on the traditions established by César Ritz.   I mentioned many of the staff members because this hotel must be where many young people training to be part of the hospitality business careers are launched.

The Boston Ritz-Carlton, along with the Ritz in Montreal, were the forerunners of the Ritz-Carlton chain.  Both were two of the finest hotels in the USA and the world – in the grand tradition of great luxury hotels.

(Left – A Ritz-Carlton a la carte restaurant aboard a German Liner during the 1920s and 1930s) Cruising The Past will be doing a series on other world hotels that provide a link to the past.   Reviewing the great luxury hotels of the world that maintain a tradition of elegance and luxury.

The Ritz-Carlton Berlin makes our list of top hotels and more reviews will come in the New Year.

Happy New Year from Berlin!

History of surrounding East Berlin…

A very unusual color Propaganda film of Berlin in 1936 made by the Nazi’s for the Olympic Games.   This is an outstanding portrait of daily life in Berlin in this rare, well preserved film, with the magical feeling of the pastel colors of Agfachrome.  Strangely, it appears that parts of this documentary were filmed in 1939, after the Siegessäule was moved to it’s new location.  Original soundtrack. No subtitles.

Der Potsdamer Platz  in 1919 – destroyed during WW 2.  Unfortunately, the Russians occupied this area of Berlin which meant the dreariness of bureaucratic directives and the ugliness of Communism – until Germany was unified.

A 1988 view of the site of Potsdamer Platz (site of the new Ritz-Carlton) at the Berlin Wall.  Under the Russians – Germany was dominated on the Eastern side.  Nothing could be done until the Wall came down.  The grim past now totally changed.

In an area totally rebuilt from no-man’s land as seen in the above photo – we see the remnants of the Wall. A young German (dressed in a military uniform) issuing souvenir visas that were used during the occupation of Berlin.

Potsdamer Platz today with Ritz-Carlton in the background.

For additional information on the TS Bremen and an elaborate lunch menu from the Bremen – click here.

For another view of the TS Bremen – during the late 1930s – with the many film stars that sailed aboard her – click here.

Liner BREMEN in the 1930s.