A good hotel provides travelers with access to nearby attractions. A great hotel makes travelers want to skip the attractions altogether. When visitors check into these 20 hotels, which ran the gamut from luxurious to anarchic, they never want to leave. The reasons range from glorious views to glorious linens, but there are a few universals. Each of the hotels is a self-contained world entirely apart from reality defined by a set of unwritten laws that maids, bellboys, and, yes, guests, seem to innately understand. These hotels are someone else's fantasies, but they seem, on second glance, as though they might be your own.
Das Stue Hotel, Berlin
Das Stue is a recent addition to Berlin's already bustling scene, and is quickly gaining a rep as the city's coolest new hotel. Taking its name from the Danish word for living room, the hotel is a playful mix of discreet and sexy, grown-up but still fun. Its 80 rooms are housed in a stately, limestone-bedecked building that was formerly an embassy (to the Royal Danish, naturally), occupying a rare leafy corner next to Berlin's Tiergarten. It's perfectly and centrally located.
Das Stue has been updated with a modernist new wing and complete renovation by local architects Axthelm Architekten. Spanish designer Patrica Urquiola waved her tasteful wand over the interiors, creating just the right mix of vintage, modern, and eclectic, all with a playful sense of elegance. For instance, the museum-like entrance hall features gigantic, life-size crocodile head sculpture front and center. Suspended above is a dramatic lighting installation of hundreds of tiny hanging lightbulbs in the shape of a wave. You'll find a few more animal sculptures – a wink to the hotel's neighbor, the Berlin Zoo – in the cozy chic lobby, which is a spacious room with parquet floors, theatrical lighting, quilted modernist chairs, and deep couches. At night, the space doubles as a cocktail bar conceived by the city's nattily dressed nightlife impresario, Till Harter (of Tausend and many an 1990s-era underground party).
The whole scene-within-a-hotel trend has yet to take off in Berlin, but Das Stue offers a close approximation with a welcoming low-key vibe, cozy nooks, and excellent cocktails from award-winning mixologist Michael Frohnwieser (formally of the Savoy in London and the Soho House Berlin) that draws an insidery crowd. Those regulars are often found at one of the hotel's two restaurants, The Casual and Cinco, which are overseen by Michelin-starred Spanish chef Paco Perez. The Casual, located in an intimate room with views into the kitchen and an installation of lights that resemble copper pots, is Perez's mind-blowing, 24-course ode to molecular tapas. In contrast, Cinco serves up simple but beautifully prepared international comfort food, like Spanish arroz (rice) dishes and a bison burger.
The rooms are each unique and come kitted out with every convenience you could need, including Bose speakers and an Apple TV and free WiFi – and a copious supply of hangover helpers in the mini bar. If you can splurge for a suite ask for 303 or 403, spacious corner rooms with views over the ostriches next door. The bed is a little on the hard side, but hey, you're in Berlin. Who's sleeping anyway? [From $230/night; das-stue.com]