With almost as many staff as there are rooms, Berlin-set Gorki Apartments are designed to ensure that everything is just-so: Tom Dixon lights, RPL Parfums room spray, Wood Wood-designed uniforms… It’s a sophisticate’s fantasy, where rooms are expensively styled with a whimsical, roughed-up charm – an exposed brick wall here, a hand-carved table there. Gorki may be exclusive but it’s also well-placed for action – situated in the Berlin-Mitte, you’re within strolling distance of the coolest shops, bars and restaurants (and trust us, Gorki’s concierge is on first-name terms with them all).
Get this when you book through us:
A glass of champagne, wine or beer for each guest during check-in and free late check-out until 1pm
Noon. Earliest check-in, 3pm. Both are flexible, subject to availability.
Double rooms from £157.50 (€185), including tax at 12 per cent.
An à la carte breakfast at one of two neighbouring cafés (Gorki Park and Daluma) can be added to your bill for €13.50 daily.
Gorki is about as hygge as you’ll get outside Scandinavia itself: from the staff uniforms (designed by Danish fashion giant Wood Wood) to the Finnish-made Pelago bikes available to hire, it’s straight out of a Nordic drama – but without the murder mystery. The whole hotel is scented with Copenhagen-based RPL Parfums’ heady signature fragrance (don’t forget to buy a bottle from reception).
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout and a laundry service. In rooms: a TV, Bose sound system, fridge stocked with white wine (and bottles of red on the side), free bottled water, Dr Bronner’s bath products. In-room kitchenettes have a kettle, Nespresso coffee machine, Berlin-based Paper & Tea luxury teas, dishwasher, microwave (on request), toaster (on request). Penthouses also have an oven, a washing machine and a dryer.
Our favourite rooms
The rooms are organised into ‘categorkis’ (see what they did there?), with numbers and letters denoting their size and level of luxuriousness. We’ve fallen hard for 2B with its biscuits-and-cream colour palette, freestanding bath tub and exposed-brick walls; when the sun sets behind the floor-to-ceiling French windows, Tom Dixon lamps bathe the room in a soft glow. The Penthouses are jaw-droppingly impressive: each one is a full-fledged flat, sleeping between four and eight people. On a couples’ holiday and feeling cheeky? Go for 2C, where the shower and bedroom are separated by a glass partition – only exhibitionists need apply…
Imagine yourself as a bohemian artist, living it up in central Berlin with only your paintbrushes and tortured soul for company: go for black polo necks, sunglasses and a trendy haircut.
Categorki 3 rooms (at the back of the building) are suitable for guests with mobility issues, but the hotel’s common areas aren’t accessible to wheelchair users.
Gorki welcomes little Smiths of all ages and rooms are kitted out with mini robes and slippers. Extra beds can be added to Categorki 1 rooms for €30 a child, a night and the hotel can provide baby bedlinen, changing mats and highchairs.
Each apartment has separate bins for paper, plastic and compost recycling. Fairtrade products (biodegradable paper cups, glass bottles for water) are used wherever possible.
Both Penthouses have access to the hottest ticket in Berlin: a private, rooftop dining terrace, for alfresco meals under the stars.
Silky PJs and cosy cashmere for lounging around in your room. (Burgers in bed? Don’t mind if we do…)
There’s no bar or restaurant on site, but Gorki guests benefit from the insider knowledge of the hip staff: they have the best connections with local restaurants, from new openings to well-loved institutions. If you can’t bear to leave your room (and honestly, when they’re this gorgeous, we wouldn’t blame you), use Deliveroo to order food straight to your door, or take advantage of the hotel’s fridge-filling service to create your own in-room feasts.
Gorki doesn't have a bar, but the hotel can organise for wine to be sent up to your room. If you fancy picking something out yourself, Weinerei on nearby Veteranenstraße (a five-minute walk frok Gorki) has a wide selection of European and international bottles.
Situated off the trendy Torstraße in Berlin-Mitte, Gorki couldn’t be more central – it’s minutes away from Rosenthaler Platz underground station, several parks and the leafy Weinbergsweg, home to shops, bars and restaurants aplenty.
Fly to Tegel Airport – most major carriers (including British Airways; www.britishairways.com) have direct European flights. Gorki is a 25-minute drive away; the hotel can arrange transfers (from €66 one-way). Budget airlines such as EasyJet and Ryanair fly to Schönefeld Airport, which is a 45-minute drive from Gorki (www.easyjet.com; www.ryanair.com). Hotel transfers cost €84 one-way.
Berlin’s Hauptbahnhof is a 10-minute drive from the hotel. It’s Berlin’s largest railway station, running ICE, IC and RE services all over the country from cities including Cologne, Hamburg and Frankfurt (www.bahnhof.de).
You’re best off walking, cycling and hopping on the S-Bahn or U-Bahn (Berlin’s underground) to get around this notoriously busy city. If you insist on driving, hire a car at either airport and take Seestraße (from Tegel) or the B96 (from Schönefeld) to the hotel. There's garage parking nearby (€15 a day, depending on availability; on-street parking for €5 a day).
Like many European cities, Berlin has a comprehensive tram network – they’re greener than buses and a nippy way of getting around (www.bvg.de).
Worth getting out of bed for
You’re spoilt for choice in Berlin, a city synonymous with both culture and cool. Start off by visiting the usual suspects – Checkpoint Charlie, the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall – to warm you up, culture-wise. Architecture fans should hit the Pergamon Museum on Museum Island: its exterior is Messel- and Hoffmann-designed, and it houses monumental buildings – Russian doll-style – such as the Pergamon Altar, the Ishtar Gate of Babylon, and the Market Gate of Miletus. While you’re there, pop into the Alte Nationalgalerie. If your tastes run towards the contemporary, make your way to the Bauhaus-Archiv and Berlinische Galerie, both of which celebrate the city’s reputation as a modernist hub. The German Museum of Technology is also worth a visit. Consider buying a Welcome Card, which gives significant discounts at museums, theatres and other attractions – it gets you onto public transport, too.
However, you needn’t go to museums to see culture in Berlin – the lively street-art scene (operating mainly around eastern Kreuzberg and Boxhagener Platz) features famous artists such as Blu, Pure Evil and Os Gemeos, alongside local talent such as El Bocho. While on your makeshift tour, have a rummage through the renowned flea markets. On your way back to the hotel, stroll through the Hackescher Höfe in the Mitte: a warren of eight restored courtyards, now a hive of shops, restaurants and quirky fashion and design.
There’s a restaurant every few feet in Berlin, so you’ll never be short of somewhere to cosy up with a kartoffelpuffer (deep-fried potato pancake – don’t knock it till you’ve tried it). For something fancier, try Katz Orange on Bergstraße, a light and airy bistro with rustic wooden furniture, white-painted walls and exposed brick here and there. You’ll find smoked mackerel, spare ribs and poppy seed strudel on the menu. If you really want to push the boat out, go to Scandi-style Lokalon Linienstraße, where the menu changes daily (make sure you book in advance). Hugos, Grill Royal and Der Goldene Hahn are also must-visits while you’re in town.
Daluma – right by the hotel – is our top pick for breakfast; their coffee is top-notch. A five-minute walk away on Alte Schönhauser Straße is Zeit für Brot, a bakery selling lip-smackingly good rolls and cinnamon buns. For a classic German pretzel or bratwurst, locals rave about the street vendors, who always have the freshest ’dogs.
Berlin is better-known for its burgeoning social scene than almost anything else. The cutting-edge crowd hang out at Soho House, Berghain and Chalet, but only the very hippest should attempt to wangle their way in. For something more manageable (and with less techno music), try Tausend on Schiffbauerdamm – a grown-up bar with wasabi cocktails, industrial decor and 3D light installations. The entrance is unmarked, so look for the iron door under the train overpass. Poke your nose into Newton Bar on Charlottenstraße; named after Helmut Newton, the walls are adorned with massive reprints of his photographs. For table football and very drinkable cocktails, Ä on Weserstraße is a fun weeknight option. The more laid-back locals favour kneipen (the German version of a pub) for a stein of beer and a pretzel: Prater and Bei Schlawinchen (+49 30 693 2015) (on Kastanienallee and Schönleinstraße respectively) are firm favourites.
From the street, Gorki Apartments gives very little away; an unassuming if-slightly-oversized doorway sandwiched between two busy cafés, with no visible reception. The word 'Gorki' hovering in neon is the only clue that we’ve arrived. As former residents of Berlin, we feel an immediate affinity with such a low-key approach – conspicuous ostentation is a tawdry act in these parts.
We enter into a subtly opulent, sympathetically restored ‘alt-bau’ corridor of generous proportions. The walls of plaster and wooden panelling display a tastefully exposed and preserved patina in muted, earthy tones; at our feet, a floor of diagonal mosaic tiles.
The corridor gives way to an open courtyard where, at the far end, our host, Anna, emerges, greeting us warmly and beckoning us to follow. The tranquil courtyard is worlds apart from the bustling Weinbergsweg outside: a street which has become a real hotspot in Mitte over the last five years. Here the air is still and gently fragranced by greenery exploding with springtime life. A couple sip tea and read in the corner and, as we breeze though, we notice a Hunde bar for watering four-legged friends – as dog enthusiasts (but alas, without our little cocker spaniel for this trip), we felt it bade well.
We take a load off in the comforting armchairs of Gorki’s informal and welcoming reception, snacking on delicious homemade cookies with fresh coffee whilst our gracious host introduces to their concierge service, accessed from your smartphone – there are no distracting landlines in these tranquil apartments.
It may not have a restaurant or bar but we don’t miss it; everything you need is on your Weinbergsweg doorstep: cafés, bars, restaurants, ice-cream parlours (yes, more than one), boutique magazine stores…
Each apartment is fully equipped with cooking facilities and, at breakfast, guests can buy a voucher from reception for some of the excellent cafés on the street – at just €13.50 per head, it’s great value for money.
On our first morning, the sunlight pours in through the enormous windows, the Grateful Dead plays on the Bose Soundlink speaker, the balcony doors are flung open and the sounds of the city float in as I settle in for a long bath with the Dr Hauschka products.
Sitting in cosy Gorki robes and slippers on the balcony, Mr Smith suggests a coffee from the Nespresso machine and is pleased to see that Anna has popped a cute little vintage jug of milk in the fridge – a nice touch, as is the extra supply of home-made cookies on the king-size bed.
Finally it’s time to go out. As lovers of two-wheel exploration, we’re delighted by the Pelago bikes we can rent from Gorki for €10 a day. Berlin is a cycle-friendly city with few hills and is best discovered with the balmy summer breeze on one’s face. Visit Mitte’s Galleries, stop for a rosé schorle at one of the street wine bars (we recommend Hackbarth), zip off and visit museums (Bode, Pergamom, Berlinische Galerie), stop for a picnic in the Tiergarten, then down to Kreuzberg and dip into an ‘open air’ (casual, fun, outdoor parties raves which casually pop up out of nowhere) for a few hours – and all before dinner. We take ours back ‘at home’ in our apartment, happily cooking with friends, balcony doors open listening to the street sounds and playing music.
Weinbergsweg runs down the east side of the Volkspark am Weinberg. The park itself is a romantic spot for all seasons – a magnet for dog walkers, lazy lovers and sun-worshippers. There’s a peaceful rose garden at one end and a spacious kids’ climbing areas at the other. Perched at the top overlooking the entire park is the Swiss restaurant, Nolas. In the summer, you can relax on deck chairs and watch the park scenes play out. In the winter, cosy up inside where you’ll find a surprising ski-lodge vibe and taste the most indulgent hot chocolate.
Looking from our cute little balcony, our eyes fix on a Brazilian cafe called Galao: a neighbourhood fixture for almost two decades now. It’s a casual over-the-counter joint serving pastries, grilled sandwiches and the best coffee in town.
A little down the hill towards the U-Bahn, you’ll find one of Berlin’s most popular Spätkaufs, which at any given moment must have had no less than 60 youngsters on benches chatting, flirting and imbibing all evening long giving the street its buzz. The street has a popular tram route which leads to Rosenthaler Platz U-bahn on the U8 which is the main vein running from north to south giving excellent access to all Berlin has to offer. If you’re here for early nights and long lie-ins then request a room on the back courtyard as the sound of the street does carry.
We’ve chosen this place for its location, though – to feel right in the thick of it. We feel more like residents than guests, and to be left alone is a real luxury.a At Gorki, the service is so discreet, their concierge service is only ever a text away.
Such a home-from-home experience lets us blend effortlessly back into Berlin life. You can look down from your balcony and take it all in and decide to go out and explore, or opt out and just stay home… City breaks don’t get more relaxing than this.