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As the bartender in Monbijou Hotel’s brand-new bar concocted my nightcap, I reclined in an ultra-soft leather chair and listened to soulful sounds coming from the speakers. The Bar Bijou was dimly lit, just soft enough to flatter any face, and the gentlemen to my left smiled in my direction as they shared a Cuban cigar from the hotel’s humidor.
“Enjoy this,” said the bartender as he placed a drink before me. “This is the best Dark ‘n Stormy cocktail that you will ever have.”
Such hyperbole did not come unwarranted. The hotel bar, which opened on April 11, is one of two bars in Germany with a cask of Gosling’s Black Seal Rum (the company responsible for trademarking the Dark ‘N Stormy highball). Naturally, Gosling’s Ginger Beer, which was created expressly for Dark ‘n Stormy cocktails, is used to top off and balance the rich liquor. As an added touch, the bartender chilled my highball glass to 5 degrees below zero to help keep the cocktail ice cold.
He was right. The drink was unforgettably good.
This was my introduction to Monbijou Hotel, located in the heart of Berlin’s upscale Mitte neighborhood — and, without hesitation, the rest of my stay lived up to the expectations.
Monbijou takes its name from neighboring Monbijou Park and is a short walk from Museum Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The boutique hotel opened in April with 101 guestrooms and suites, some offering unobstructed views of the Berliner Dom.
My single guestroom was small but adequate with a desk and seating area in one corner of the room. The room also offered Wi-Fi access, a flat-screen television and an iPod docking station. Bathrooms feature organic Molton & Brown bath products and a rain shower outfitted with Craquele tiles. Oddly, the hardwood floors, rectangular windows and contemporary decor made me feel almost as if I were staying in an apartment in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. My favorite part of the room, however, had to be the blackout curtains, which allowed me to balance out my jetlag with an afternoon nap.
Breakfast at the on-site restaurant was included in the cost of my room, and it proved to be one of the highlights of my stay. Guests have the option of ordering a hot breakfast off the menu — including pancakes and fancy omelets — and them helping themselves to a generous buffet. Cappuccinos and a selection of loose-leaf teas are included as well.
Buttery croissants were well worth the calories and best enjoyed with the restaurant’s homemade cherry, apricot or strawberry marmalade. A selection of natural yogurts and cream cheese, served with smoked salmon, is also made in-house. According to the chef, even the restaurant’s honey is made on site — it doesn’t get much more local than that.
Guestrooms start at approximately $115 per night for a single room and $130 per night for a double room.