This story first appeared in the Feb. 8 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Ever since Berlin wine merchant and restaurateur Lorenz Adlon convinced Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1907 to let him build a luxury hotel next to the Brandenburg Gate, the city's history has been inextricably linked with Hotel Adlon. Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford stayed there, as did Roosevelt and Rockefeller.
The Adlon survived the war mostly unscathed, but Soviet soldiers, drunk on looted wine, accidentally torched it in May 1945. Part of the hotel remained in operation, but it was a shell of its former glory. Finally, in 1984, the East German government tore it down. The Adlon wasn't rebuilt until after German reunification, but it quickly regained its mythic appeal.
It's where presidential candidate Barack Obama came after wowing a Berlin crowd and where Michael Jackson infamously dangled his 9-month-old son from a fourth-floor balcony in 2002. With rooms starting at $350 a night (you'll pay $20,000 for the Royal Suite), the Adlon is the hotel of choice for Hollywood's A-list at the Berlin International Film Festival, including Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Renee Zellweger and Penelope Cruz. In 2009, Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore re-created Jackson's infamous balcony-baby scene with a doll.