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February 2010 Email this to a friend
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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 relaxed."
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 clubs.
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 cross.
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, of course.
"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.

Total independence
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 purchases.
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 you need.

Contact / Hotels

Arco Hotel
Geisbergstrasse 30
30/2351 480

Art Hotel Connection
Fuggerstrasse 33
30/21021 88-00

Axel Hotel Berlin
Lietzenburger Strasse 13/15

Kinky Tulip
Welserstrasse 24

RoB Leather Apartments
Fuggerstrasse 19

SM Apartments Berlin

Tom's Hotel
Motzstrasse 19

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
Motzstrasse 22
30/2199 7704

RoB Leather Berlin
Fuggerstrasse 19
30/2196 7400

Click Berlin for our most recent article about the city, including links to the numerous leather and fetish bars, events, and more shops.

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