Find the real Berlin at Hotel Art Nouveau just off the Ku'damm in the Charlottenburg, where the shopping and restaurants surpass what you'll find in the somewhat sterile, rebuilt Mitte. The city's most fashionable shops—Gucci, Bvlgari, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Hermès, Swarovski, etc.—are only a couple of blocks from Art Nouveau's front door on Leibnizstrasse, and, for my money, Berlin's best collection of restaurants—a wildly diverse group—is scattered throughout the streets of the Savigny Platz district.

At this point, perhaps I should confess that I have lost all objectivity when it comes to the Art Nouveau. A few years ago this supposedly unbiased 20-plus-years veteran hotel reviewer succumbed to the charms of the hotel's owners, Christine and Gerd Schlenzka. I let them take me to unforgettable off-the-beaten-track places like Rogacki, the marvelous little Tavola Calda, and Ali Baba on Bleibtreustrasse, where a hefty slice of pizza is still only one euro. I can't imagine any concierge more up-to-date on the city's cultural offerings—especially art, architecture, food, and the hidden places tourists never find—than the Schlenzkas. Except when traveling, you'll find them mornings in the breakfast room helping guests plan their days. Ask for the Gemütlichkeit discount.