Dresden, Germany

Photo: Govisity.com via flickr

Dresden used to be called the Florence of the North. The Kings of Saxony lived in the Zwinger, a palatial palace along the Elbe. The Frauenkirche, a church with one of the largest domes in Europe, dominated the skyline. Baroque and Rococo buildings lined the Altstadt (Old Town), the heart of the city. The Semperoper, a grand opera house, was one of them. They were all filled with art. Dresden was grand. Then it was bombed.

The Allies bombed Dresden toward the end of World War II. The center of the city was destroyed. Thousands of civilians lost their lives. In the aftermath, a huge collection of artwork was stolen. The Jewel Box of Germany was left in ruins.

Dresden is still being rebuilt today. The Zwinger was reconstructed in the 1960s. The Semperoper was completed in 1985. The Frauenkirche was reconsecrated in 2005. Other buildings in the Altstadt still haven’t been completed. Meanwhile, other parts of the city are emerging as hip alternatives to the elegant core.

Photo: Motel One

The Innere Neustadt is one of those alternatives. The Inner New City lies across the Elbe from the Altstadt. Four bridges, including the historic Augustus Bridge, connect the two neighborhoods. Though within Dresden’s original fortifications, the area was spared the extensive destruction that occurred on the other side of the river. Baroque townhouses still line the streets. Some of them have been turned into museums. Others now house cute restaurants, trendy bars, and funky shops. While colorful art decorates the sides of the buildings.

Chic hotels are in the Innere Neustadt, too. Across from the Japanisches Palais, which now holds three museums, you’ll find Motel One Dresden-Palaisplatz. The design hotel occupies a four-story, glass-and-concrete building. Its ground floor is an open lounge dotted with colorful Fritz Hansen chairs. That’s where an organic, urban bio breakfast is served in the morning, snacks are available all day, and the bar—featuring 50 handpicked gins—never closes. It also leads to an outdoor terrace, which is decorated with wide columns and huge overhead balls of light.

When you head upstairs, you’ll find streamlined rooms with soundproof windows, Breckle mattresses, Mühldorfer duvets, and Artemide lamps. Large granite bathrooms include rainfall showers and organic linden flower soap. You can also borrow an iPad for the room.

The most surprising part of your stay will arrive at the end. It comes in the form of a bill. In a city that’s notoriously expensive, Motel One Dresden-Palaisplatz is surprisingly affordable. Some would call it a budget hotel. You think it’s just grand.

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