The founder of the hotel was Lorenz Adlon, the son of a shoemaker from the city of Mainz. His professional career, however, did not begin with the hotel trade.
In 1872 he finished his first apprenticeship as a carpenter.
His master was the wellknown manufacturer Bembé, who later made the interior of the Hotel Adlon. During his apprenticeship as a carpenter, Lorenz Adlon had already begun to work in the catering trade. He had his first experience catering for a large crowd in 1876, during festivities such as the marksman festival. By 1888 his reputation had grown to the point where he was put in charge of the catering for the Worlds Fair of 1888 in Amsterdam. For the first time the name “Adlon” gained international recognition.
Meanwhile Lorenz Adlon had moved to Berlin, where in 1880 he acquired the famous restaurant “Hiller” at 55 Unter den Linden. (Where now the Cafe Einstein is located.) In 1885 he expanded and purchased the “Zoo-Terrassen” in the Berlin Zoo. In 1889 Adlon bought his first hotel, the “Mille Colonnes” in Amsterdam, and a few months later the Hotel “Continental” in Berlin. On the occasion of the “Gewerbeausstellung” in 1896 he ran the “Hauptrestaurant von Adlon und Dressel” at the Neuen See. The second side of Lorenz Adlon’s business was his wine trade. More than a million bottles of wine were stored in his cellars in Berlin.
Lorenz Adlon carefully invested the profit he made from his various business ventures, and was finally able to fulfill his lifelong dream, the building of his own hotel.
1907: On October 24, the Vossische Zeitung in Berlin reported: “Yesterday, His Majesty the Kaiser, Her Majesty the Kaiserin, the Princesses and the Princes visited the impressive building of the Hotel Adlon and paid their tribute to that site.”
From this day on the history of the Hotel Adlon began - the history of a hotel which was built with the support of Kaiser Wilhelm II, and which within three years would become the most beautiful and most luxurious hotel in the world.
It took the architects Carl Gause and Robert Leibnitz only two years to complete the new “Hotel Adlon”, located at 1 Unter den Linden, next to the Brandenburg Gate. On October 24, 1907, the “Vossische Zeitung” wrote: “There is no doubt that the new hotel is a great achievement for a modern city, both in construction and the interior. To run such a building requires not only a great owner, but also the cooperation of architects, artists, artisans and technicians and a capital stock of 15. Million.”
Families of the nobility sold their winter residences in Berlin to live in the suites of the Hotel Adlon. Wilhelm II fled from the drafty rooms of his palace to the warmth of the Hotel Adlon. The Foreign Office also liked to use the hotel as its unofficial guesthouse, as they did not have a guesthouse of their own to house foreign guests. Hidden behind the classic-conservative walls was a unique collection of technical equipment. Electricity as well as hot and cold running water were standard features of the new hotel.
1920s-30s: Headed by Lorenz Adlon, the Hotel Adlon soon became a place to see, but perhaps more importantly, a place to be seen. In 1929 the Berliner Morgenpost wrote “In the foyer of the Hotel you can hear the languages of all civilized countries.”
Between 1925 and 1930 between 1.5 and 1.7 million guests per year visited Berlin. Not surprisingly, a large number of them chose the Adlon.
1931: Ten years after Lorenz’ son Louis Adlon became the director of the hotel, he became sole owner of the Hotel Adlon. His sister had already sold her share back to the hotel. Lorenz Adlon was easily able to afford the amount due to the good turn over and occupancy. The Griebens travel guide called the Hotel Adlon a first-class-hotel, Kiesslings Reiseführer, predecessor of the Baedecker guide, also praised the wine restaurant as highly noble.
1935-45: In the years of political and economical upheaval the Hotel Adlon became a location of political and diplomatic decisions. During the political welter of the pre war period and the Third Reich, the Hotel Adlon was called “little Switzerland in Germany.” The SS preferred the Hotel Kaiserhof in Wilhelmstraße. In 1936 the Olympic Games conferred pomp upon its “official Hotel”. Only Adolf Hitler avoided the Hotel - he only visited it once. Luckily, the Hotel managed to survive the war without any extreme damage. In 1945, the rooms of the hotel was no longer filled with luxury seeking guests but with moans of victims of the war, the nearly undamged hotel having been transformed into a military hospital. At this point, the only major noticeable scars from the war were the walled up windows on the first floor.
1945: On the night of May 2nd, a fire tragically demolished parts of the glamorous building. Nevertheless, the former GDR reopened the surviving lateral wing as a hotel. Despite the socialist climate, a guest at the hotel could still find page-boys and bellhops - dressed in the original uniforms of the hotel.
1964: The building was even renovated and the facade was redone.
1970s: However, the doors of the original Hotel Adlon closed forever. The most luxurious hotel of the Golden Twenties was to become a lodging house for apprentices.
1984: The building itself disappeared, torn down to make way for new construction.
1997: With the reunification of Germany, the world was finally able to witness the rebirth of the grand Hotel Adlon. On August 23, 1997 the president of the Federal Republic of Germany opened the new Hotel Adlon, a Kempinski hotel, rebuilt on the same location as the original hotel, directly opposite the Brandenburg gate, reviving the high standards of luxury and service that had made the original hotel so famous.
2002: After five successful years, the Hotel Adlon is proud to present the new annex - the Adlon Palais.
It is situated between “Akademie der Künste” and the Hotel Adlon Kempinski.
The Adlon Palais is a spacious and sophisticated new building, enlarging the hotel’s capacity for top ranking events. The Palais will also house the exclusive members-only China Club, located on the top two floors and has its own roof terrace.