Forget Amsterdam and London. In the last few years, Berlin has become
Europe's headquarters for the leather and rubber scenes. Although
leather bars and SM clubs can be found all around the city, the highest
concentration is in the Schoeneberg district. No wonder that
Folsom Europe, the continent's largest leather and fetish event, takes place here.
Berlin has no shortage of gay-friendly lodgings. But more and
more are catering to the leather community, adding playrooms, equipment
and other attractions.
Even Berlin's recently opened Axel Hotel, a boutique hotel known
for its sophisticated modern design, has made it clear that it likes
things rough. In 2009 the gay hotel was one of the sponsors of Folsom
Europe, and it hosted a barbecue called "Carne Cruda" ("Raw Meat").
Axel Hotel manager Oliver Bohme says Folsom Europe is his
favorite of the city's annual gay events. He likes the vibe and the
people: "They are more down to earth and not so posh -- and much more
During Folsom Europe, almost all the patrons at the Axel Hotel
are dressed in leather from head to toe. Axel Hotel is on Lietzenburger
Strasse, near the entrance of Folsom Europe. Visitors can pop out of
the hotel and find themselves in the middle of the action.
When guests ask Tim Baum of Tom's Hotel for the way to the
leather scene, he tells them: "Two steps from here." The hotel is
located on Motzstrasse, in the heart of the Schoneberg neighborhood.
Guests here enjoy many perks. During Folsom Europe and other
leather and fetish events, they receive a free beer at many leather
bars, and they also get reduced or free entrance in many saunas and
Rolf Osterloh of the nearby Arco Hotel also books heavily with men attending Folsom Europe, although his is normally a more mixed general crowd. He's always happy to steer you true, to all local leather bars, stores, and events.
In the Village
Schoeneberg has plenty of other lodgings competing for your euros. On
Fuggerstrasse you'll find Art Hotel Connection, which has 17 rooms on
the third floor of an art-nouveau building. The small, private hotel
offers two special rooms at the end of the corridor.
"Here you can do wonderful things," says manager Hauke Petersen.
Room 2, for example, has two different-sized cages and a bathroom
with jailhouse-style bars. There's also a sling and a St Andrew's
If your nocturnal activities run into the next day, don't worry.
Breakfast is served from 8 am to 4 pm.
"We can be highly flexible, because we are a small hotel,"
explains Hauke. "We take time for our guests and give them information
about bars and parties. They can ask us everything."
If you want more seclusion, Art Hotel Connection also rents a
private apartment with its own playroom containing a sling, stocks,
chains, handcuffs and ropes.
In the same building as Art Hotel Connection, but with a separate
entrance on Welserstrasse, is the Kinky Tulip. The guesthouse's five
rooms are furnished with slings, cages and bondage walls. There are
also old-fashioned hospital-style beds -- decked out in black leather,
"These special beds really give you a lot of possibilities,"
promises Frank Losch, who helps run the property.
There is a locker room style shower facility, which gives you
plenty of opportunities for cruising. After the action you can relax in
the huge hot tub or in the spacious living room. There's also a kitchen
where you can make breakfast any time of day.
"Our guests love to be flexible," says Losch.
The owners of the guesthouse are well connected, so they're happy
to fill you in on the local scene.
If you need more privacy, there are several apartments in the
Schoeneberg district. SM Apartments Berlin offers four different units,
each with a big playroom. The Black Apartment, for example, is perfect
for those who enjoy a variety of toys. It has a block and tackle,
sling, cross, gynecology chair and body bags in both leather and
rubber. (Rubber, or "gummi," is very popular in Germany.)
"It is important for us that our guests don't need to carry a lot
of baggage on their flights," explains Ephraim Ritter, owner of SM
Apartments Berlin. "Leather and especially steel are heavy."
The Red Apartment was created especially for fisting fans and has
a lot of comfortable places to play. The Chrome Apartment has a
playroom with mirrored walls. The showpiece of SM Apartments Berlin is
the SM Suite, set in a stylish older building. It's very spacious and
has a living room that can accommodate two additional guests.
In the middle of Fuggerstrasse you will find RoB, the Berlin
outpost of Amsterdam's legendary RoB International Gallery. Owners
Oswin Struik and Dirk Bensmann are specialists in leather, rubber and
other gear. Just behind the store, with separate entrances through a
typical Berlin courtyard, you reach the two RoB Leather Apartments,
each with bedroom, kitchenette and private playroom.
Studio L, the larger of the two, has inspiring Tom of Finland
drawings on the walls. Metal features prominently in the suite; besides
the metal bed, the room features open metal closets.
"Our guests love it, because they want to show off their boots
and garments," says Bensmann.
The playroom is equipped with a huge sling, a St Andrew's cross,
cages and a variety of special gear like whips, masks, gags, harnesses,
straitjackets and body bags. If you need something else, you can easily
go to the RoB store, where guests get a 10 percent discount on all cash
As for the kitchenette, it's so clean it shines.
"Our staff cleans the sink with a toothbrush," Bensmann explains.
Berlin's leather and rubber scene is expanding, which may explain
why more and more lodgings are competing for this market.
Struik, of RoB Leather Apartments, lived for years in Amsterdam
and also knows the scene in London, Paris and New York. He says Berlin
is eclipsing them all.
"Someone said that Berlin will be the Paris of the 21st century,"
says Struik. "Tourists are attracted by the atmosphere. For the
visitors, Berlin is sex. And I believe that Europeans have more kinky
fantasies than Americans. This is what they like." At RoB Leather Apartments, each suite has a bedroom, kitchenette
and private playroom with everything
Contact / Hotels
Art Hotel Connection
Axel Hotel Berlin
Lietzenburger Strasse 13/15
RoB Leather Apartments
SM Apartments Berlin
Contact / Stores
Wim Bos of Mr. B is too much a part of Folsom Europe to leave out, even without accommodations. As with RoB they have an excellent Berlin store in addition to those in Amsterdam, and each of these retail heavyweights sponsors major leather and fetish events.
Mr. B Berlin
RoB Leather Berlin
Berlin for our most recent article about the city, including links to the numerous leather and fetish bars, events, and more shops.