Many sights of Berlin allude back to the city’s East German history. Visiting the East Side Gallery, the Brandenburg Gate, and Alexanderplatz TV Tower will give you a taste of what Communist Germany was like. Details such as the ‘Ample Man’ on the traffic lights and Trevant cars driving around (it is possible to hire them!) make you feel as though the past is still very much alive.
Why not immerse yourself in this fascinating era completely, by staying in an historical building, now converted into a wonderful hotel? There are many such hotels to choose from, and here is a selection of different types for different price ranges.
Perfectly located near the Ostbahnhof, this hostel building was originally a GDR (German Democratic Republic- ‘DDR’ in German) ‘‘Platten’’building: typical Socialist concrete architecture. Stepping inside transports the visitor back to the 70s and 80s with classic furniture and retro colourful wallpaper.
Quirky details such as mirrors, lampshades and old radios add to the extraordinary atmosphere. Portraits hang on the walls of Socialist personalities, such as Erich Honecker. Each room has unique décor, reminiscent of the GDR times, when improvisation was a virtue.
Despite communist associations, the hostel does not skimp on comfort. The beds and linen are comfortable, the bathrooms are fully equipped and clean, and there are modern radios and TVs.
There are single and double rooms available, as well as holiday apartments for up to four people. The price for a standard double room is €39.
Das Anderhaus VIII
The fascinating history to ‘The Other house 8’ begins in 1876, when the complex was constructed as a ‘workhouse’ for rehabilitating ex-convicts and vagrants. During the National-Socialist era, the building was increasingly used as a prison and labour camp for ‘undesirable and inferior people’. This function continued through Communist times, when the cells were bugged and locked with heavy iron doors. The cells were extremely dark and conditions were harsh. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, SED politicians such as Erich Honecker were held there for a short time.
Now renovated into a modern hotel, the building has seen many changes. The small windows have been extended, the rooms now filled with light. Each has a colour that refers to the room, rather than room numbers. Each room has its own WC and shower, and modern equipment.
In the vault there is a ‘room of silence’ for those wishing to reflect on the incredible history of the house. There is a high vaulted hall for relaxing and reading, and a kitchenette equipped with refreshments.
A double room is priced at €75 and children’s beds can be added to rooms. The house is located in Rummelsburg Bay with views across the water to the peninsula Stralau. Close by is Treptower Park, which boasts a huge Socialist monument.
A luxury hotel in the Mitte district, near the TV Tower, Lux 11 is in the perfect location for exploring Communist history. The building was originally a 19th century stately residence, which later became a Stasi office space under communism.
Completely renovated in a trendy and minimalist style, Lux 11 now reflects Berlin’s movement into the modern era. All the suites and apartments feature a fully equipped kitchen, bathroom with rain shower, and even complimentary slippers.
A value apartment is priced at €76 per night based on two people sharing.
Honigmond Restaurant Hotel (there is also the Honigmond Garden Hotel) is a listed building, constructed in 1895, decorated in colonial style with frescos and stucco details. The historic charm of the place is truly enchanting, and each room is a work of art.
While not technically a Socialist era building or style, Honigmond does have an interesting history. The ‘Restaurant’ Hotel was originally a tavern used by GDR resistance. The resistance movement came in the form of artists, writers and intellectuals, who gathered together here at the tavern, to discuss their views and plans. They became known as ‘the opposition’. The tavern was closed down towards the end of the Communist period, and was reopened as a restaurant in 1995.
The relaxed historic atmosphere makes it enjoyable to imagine those historical figures, who may have walked the hundred year old floors. Did the East German expatriate and singer-songwriter Wolf Biermann once sit where you are sitting now?
Located in central Berlin, just North of Museum Island, Honigmond Hotel is close to several U-bahn and S-bahn stations. Rooms are priced from €127 per night, based on two adults sharing.
This 5 star hotel, close to Alexanderplatz, is a historic building of Bauhaus architecture. Literally meaning ‘house of construction’, Bauhaus was an art school operating from 1919 until 1933. The school was closed under pressure from the Nazi government, who believed it held communist sensitivities.
The Soho Berlin building was originally opened as a Jonass & Co department store in 1928, was closed by wartime government, and was occupied by the communist regime until 1956. During this time, the huge space housed the Central Committee’s Historical Institution of Marxist-Leninism and the Central Party Archive. The Politburo used the building for meetings; this was the executive committee for several communist parties.
The hotel shows Bauhaus symmetrical architecture in all its glory, and furnishes the rooms with simple, nostalgic design and features from the Communist era.
Soho Berlin boasts an outdoor swimming pool and terrace on the top floor, with panoramic views; The Club bar, with a lounge area; a gym, cinema and library. Bedrooms are in all shapes and sizes from Tiny to Extra Large. The Tiny rooms are priced from €110 to €250 per night.