and Photos By Stephen Ashton
Adlon was the founder of the most famous hotel and restaurant
in Europe that catered to Kaiser Wilhelm, the Tzar of Russia,
Edison, Ford, Rockefeller, President Taft and Albert Einstein.
Charlie Chaplin was stripped of his trouser-buttons when raucous
crowds swarmed him on the Adlon steps after the Berlin premier
of City Lights and Marlene Dietrich, discovered at the Adlon,
uttered her famous line & I want to be alone.
on Images for Captions
from humble French roots (our name was originally Adelón,
great grandson Percy Adlon says, before my forefathers settled
in Mainz, Germany), Lorenz Adlon started his career life as an
apprentice to an amazing builder/designer and in short order became
a master carpenter. Adlon became an avid wine aficionado and returned
to his family's Medoc region in France to study and refine his
palate. He moved to Berlin and soon was known as a fine restaurateur
and wine purveyor with millions of bottles cellared in Berlin.
By chance Lorenz
Adlon encountered Germany's emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II and proposed
an extraordinary new hotel, to be the most progressive hotel in
all of Europe. It would be right in front of the Brandenburg Gate,
amid the great buildings of state near the venerable Reichestag.
The Kaiser was impressed with this self-made man and offered his
When the Hotel
Adlon opened in 1907 it amazed even the most skeptical with its
advanced features (like its own electric plant, freezers for foods
and advanced communications) and particularly, its beauty: Golden
Cloudy Marble from Sienna and Red Marble from Verona for floors
and stairs; Wainscotting of Cuban Mahogany, painted Sycamore wood,
frescoed stucco ceilings and silk and damask dressed the expansive
lobbies and rooms. Paintings and busts, ivory inlays, Louis VI
and Queen Anne furniture all drew praise from the Kaiser, himself.
From that day on
the Hotel Adlon was an unbridled success & the place to be
and the place to be seen. Wilhelm II took refuge in the warmth
and excitement of the Hotel to avoid the drafty rooms of the royal
palace. Other noble families moved into the Hotel's suites and
sold their winter houses and it was the favorite haunt of Enrico
Caruso, Mary Pickford and Rudolf Valentino, Richard Strauss and
Although the Hotel
building managed to survive WWII's devastation of Berlin, most
of it burned and only a small part was maintained as a Hotel under
socialist rule in the then East Berlin.
The fall of the
Berlin Wall and the subsequent reunification of Germany in the
1990's led to truly revolutionary architectural possibilities:
futuristic and modern architectural wonders in the no-man's land
of Potsdammerplatz and elsewhere in East Berlin; and the construction
of a new Adlon Hotel on the very site of the original Adlon not
as a new modern expression but in the style of the original Adlon!
It would use the finest materials, would keep the exterior just
the way it was, and create the atmosphere of the original grand
scale. It would pay homage to a time gone by. It would go against
common belief that it is impossible to build it like they used
us on this journey of discovery however is, after all...