Situated in Berlin's elegant mitte district, the Hotel de Rome channels history. It was built in 1889, and its ornate stone edifice originally housed the headquarters of Germany's Dresdner Bank and, following World War II, the state bank of communist East Germany (D.D.R.). Although the austere D.D.R. officials resented the building's opulence, they couldn't afford its demolition and instead boarded over its mosaic stone floors and ornate molding, inadvertently preserving them for today's luxury traveler.
Now, following a two-year, $102 million conversion, the building has been restored to its splendor and reborn as a five-star hotel. Designers cleverly converted a former cashiers' hall into a light and airy ballroom that features the original 19th century glazed roof. Underground, they created a luxurious spa by transforming the bank's jewel vault into a spectacularly lit 66-ft. (20 m) swimming pool and recasting a massive steel-and-copper money vault as a manicure parlor. (See 10 things to do in Rome.)
Each of the hotel's 146 rooms is decorated in soft shades of coral, beige and blue. Well-heeled visitors may want to splash out on the historic first-floor suites, formerly offices where socialist planners met to draft the country's economic policies. Today those rooms boast marble bathrooms, fur throws, 16-ft. (5 m) high ceilings and sweeping views of the Bebelplatz and Humboldt University. There's more behind the luxurious surface: bullets and grenade fragments from World War II remain embedded in the suites' original wood paneling. For more information, visit www.hotelderome.com.
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