The average Berliner has a healthy scepticism towards anything ‘private’ or ‘exclusive’, so eyebrows were raised when Soho House opened its branch in the German capital in summer 2010. But even the toughest critic would have to admit that the building and its history are too unique to be dismissed out of hand. The imposing Bauhaus structure has an incredible back story: it initially housed a Jewish-owned department store before it was taken over first by the Nazis, then by the communist regime. These days, Soho House occupies eight floors, and has installed one of their excellent Cowshed spas, a library and its own cinema. In the rooms, beautiful old wooden floors and 1920s furniture play off the raw concrete walls. There’s a touch of Britishness too, with a kettle and biscuits in each room (unusual in Germany), which together with the artfully selected furniture and warm atmosphere gives Soho House Berlin a much greater sense of Gemütlichkeit (cosy homeliness) than its rivals. A swim in the rooftop pool overlooking east Berlin rounds off the experience.
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