At a time when wealth was being funneled into an even larger demonstration of elaborate grandiosity, luxury hotels, slowly but surely, starting popping up all over the world. In America, the first luxury hotel was the Waldorf Astoria. Typically, hotels were just for staying the night, but the Waldorf Astoria was a game changer. A luxury hotel became a place for all things decadent: a place to host large parties or balls, a place to smoke cigars, have coffee or dinner. It became a one-size-fits-all (or more accurately the one percent) for lavishness.
After the US had created the paradigm for luxury hotels, Paris and London were soon to follow suit. Then in the early 20th century, Lorenz Adlon decided it was time for Berlin to catch up to speed. Adlon, from Mainz, was an affluent wine merchant and a proprietor of many successful businesses in the Hauptstadt. He convinced Kaiser Wilhelm II of his idea, but first, Karl Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s Palais Redern had to be demolished. The Neo-Renaissance building was soon turned into a pile of rubble for the new Hotel Adlon, which would sport a Neo-Baroque aesthetic.
No expense was spared for this hotel, with its endless rooms which included a cigar lounge, ladies lounge, barber shop, library, palm court, restaurant and much more, totaling up to be around 20 million gold marks. It became the epicenter of Berlin’s elite. After WWI, Lorenz Adlon died. The hotel is located right in front of the Brandenburg Gate, which only the Kaiser could go through. Even when there was no longer a monarchy, Adlon refused to accept this, and when he would cross the street, he would never look for cars. He was hit on two separate occasions and died in 1918.
The hotel largely survived WWII except for when the red army got drunk in the wine cellar and accidentally started a fire which destroyed the building. After WWII, the GDR left it in ruins until it eventually demolished the building. Then during the reunification, and as a part of rebuilding Germany, it was reconstructed in its original vain in 1997 by Rainer Michael Klotz of Patzschke Klotz & Partners.