October 15, 2022

Mission Berlin: Driving like a secret agent in a luxury Bentley Continental

There’s nothing quite like a luxury car and exclusive hotels to get your imagination running wild. Roderick Eime channels his inner secret agent on a fast-paced mission from Berlin to Copenhagen.

By Roderick Eime  |  Originally published in Luxury Travel Magazine #71, Spring 2017

My exciting instructions read like a plot for a Robert Ludlum spy thriller and I can’t help imagining myself as some Cold War operative on an undercover espionage mission.

Firstly, I deploy to Berlin and the brand new Tegel airport on what would otherwise be a regular assignment to write about luxury Bentley automobiles and premium hotels. Almost mundane, if it were not for the setting that kicks off in the former Soviet Bloc territory.

My chauffeur hands me a dossier and we chat innocuously. I flick through the pages and our planned route through the old East Germany to Denmark. In my mind, the pages are stencilled with a rough, red ‘Top Secret, Burn After Reading’.

The weather is bright and inviting as we arrive at Sammlung Boros, a WWII, above ground air raid bunker that now houses the impressive art collection of Christian Boros behind its two-metre thick concrete-reinforced walls. During a tour, I mingle with art experts inspecting works by Ai Weiwei, Thea Djordjadze, Klara Liden, Wolfgang Tillmans and Cerith Wyn Evans. 

For our ‘escape’, I’m teamed with a ‘co-agent’. Alfie (not her real name) is a petite young woman and a premium lifestyle editor from Southeast Asia in ‘real life’. With a fetching boy cut and piercing eyes, her natural smile and impeccable complexion is of the type Americans pay thousands for. 

“You clearly have no idea about art, do you?” she observes with a wry smile. Alfie is quite the handful.

We’re shuttled by plush minivan to the exclusive Design Hotels collection property, Das Stue, in Berlin’s leafy Tiergarten district. Pre-war, this palatial manor housed the Royal Danish Embassy and the new owners, with acclaimed Spanish architect and designer Patricia Urquiola, have restored the structure in a glorious homage reflecting the grandeur and pomp that once typified this exclusive diplomatic neighbourhood. 

The rooms are really over-sized suites of 70m² with five metre high ceilings. A gleaming brass bathtub sits imperiously as a centrepiece in the ample room. Suddenly an envelope slides almost silently under my door. More secret instructions!

It’s an invitation to meet the team at dinner in ‘Cinco’, Michelin-starred Catalan chef Paco Pérez’s restaurant downstairs at 8pm sharp.

We dine in amazing style with a complex degustation menu of ‘avant-garde molecular-leaning Mediterranean cuisine’. Each dish presents a culinary puzzle suitable for any cryptanalyst to ponder. 

Next morning, there is no mistaking this supreme English automobile parked in full view at the entrance of Das Stue. Bentley’s superb Continental GT (or ‘Contie’ for short) is powered by the mammoth six-litre W12 twin-turbo engine in ‘Speed’ configuration and linked to an 8-speed close-ratio transmission and an advanced All-Wheel-Drive (AWD) system. We’ll be limited to a modest 130kmh, but should the necessity arise, we could propel ourselves beyond double that speed in a matter of seconds.

I go to leap into the driver’s seat, upholstered in pure, delightfully aromatic hide and trimmed with walnut, when I my enthusiasm is interrupted. 

“Do you mind?” 

Alfie has confidently installed herself at the helm. Those eyes, framed by eyebrows that could have been etched by Da Vinci himself, clearly indicate my station.

Without a minute to lose, we’re away into the Berlin traffic, the red beast murmuring ominously at traffic lights and growling with intimidation as Alfie applies the throttle with her calf-skin boots. 

Along the expressway, we effortlessly dispatch lumbering lorries and lesser contenders. The ‘Contie’ makes 100kmh from a standing start in a smidgen over four seconds, so there’s no hanging around. 

We arrive at the imposing 220-year-old Schloss Ludwiglust, our massive 21-inch alloy wheels noisily crushing the ornamental gravel as we park in the courtyard. Once home to the Mecklenburg-Schwerin family, the palace now houses the State Museum of Schwerin/Ludwigslust/Güstrow, with paintings by Jean-Baptiste Oudry and busts by Jean Antoine Houdon forming the collection.

With an overnight at the funky East Hotel (separate rooms, thank you) in Hamburg and a lavish dinner at Clouds, 105 metres above the red-lit Reeperbahn at the top of Tanzende Türme (tower), Alfie politely keeps the conversation to topics to which she thinks I might have some insight, like power output and torque. (The W12 has, by the way, 472kW and 840Nm respectively)

We continue to run the imaginary gauntlet after coffee and cake at Schlosskeller Glucksburg before the final run into Copenhagen via Nybord. There’s champagne in Balthazar at our ultimate destination, Copenhagen’s historic Hotel d’Angleterre. Relieved at our successful avoidance of overzealous Bundespolizei, we indulge in flutes of Bollinger laced with jokes at my expense. 

Now that my ‘package’ is safely delivered, all that remains is for me to complete my undercover assignment and somehow relate this most incredible journey. Not sure where to start really.


Das Stue, Berlin

Rates start from €236 (about A$350) per night for the Stue Room. das-stue.com

East Hotel, Hamburg

Rates start from €299 (about A$442) per night for the XX-Large room. east-hamburg.de

d’Angleterre, Copenhagen

Rates start from DKK3,250 (about A$645) for a Superior Guestroom. dangleterre.com

All material (c) Copyright Traveloscopy.com unless noted otherwise.

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