Where: Berlin for 10 days, including two days in Dresden
When: September 2012
Located just off Ku’dam, this small hotel/pension is located on the fourth floor of a building on a quiet, leafy residential street. I spent 5 nights here and really felt like it became “my neighborhood”. There are several restaurants on the block and on Ku’dam but I didn’t partake in any of them, having researched restaurants on my own.
The hotel is run by Christian and his family and they have created a wonderful hotel experience. From the outset, Christian is very welcoming and helpful. He has maps and transit passes for purchase right there, which is a great help. Check in was fast and easy and he continued to offer suggestions during my stay.
All rooms are on one floor of the building. There is a small elevator that brings you from street level right to the floor of the pension. My room was right off the elevator and reception area, but I never heard any noise from either within my room. There is a good internal door system so things stay fairly quiet. The only noise I heard was from neighbors using the inner courtyard, but they quieted down as the night wore on. The room was comfortable, clean and good-sized, as was the bathroom. I felt completely at home and was comfortable spending time in the room at night.
Breakfast is wonderful and has many offerings. I never had trouble getting a spot for breakfast and found the other guests friendly.
There is a corner store which sells water, soda and snacks right at the top of the street. Several restaurants are nearby and Ku'dam is about a 3 minute walk. My only complaint was not related to the hotel but to the fact that it took a couple U-bahn lines to get to some sights, which was tough at the end of a long day heading back to the hotel for the night, having to walk back down Ku'dam to the hotel from the nearest U-bahn or S-bahn, which are several blocks away. But that can happen in any big city.
Probably the best part of the hotel was the room rate, which was 60 euro a night, including breakfast. I think he could easily charge more, as he offers far better accommodations than the price indicates. It is really a steal.
I booked my trip just before this opened, so got a fabulous rate including breakfast, and then was upgraded to a grand room at check-in. This was 125 euro a night, but worth every penny of my two night stay. I don’t ordinarily stay in such posh digs, but this spoiled me crazy. Turn down service (including a daily Sudoku and Toblerone), waterfall shower, pillow menu, “fill your own mini-bar”, iPod docking station, free wifi, king bed, view out over Alte Markt. The best part truly is the location. Frauenkirche is about 4 minutes on foot in one direction. The Zwinger is about 6 minutes in another direction. One of the entrances to the Green Vault is about 12 paces out the front door! This location made it easy to pop back to the hotel to use the loo, stop and put up my feet for a half hour or so, drop off belongings, etc. But do not be mistaken, the uber-central location did not mean a lot of noise. I slept with windows open both nights and only heard church bells. No traffic, no fellow guests.
Service was exceptional. On both my calls for the pillow choice and mini-bar, they were at my door within 5 minutes. Breakfast was wonderful, but maybe overpriced if it wasn’t included already.
I enjoyed this so much that I’d stay in the Swissotel in my home town for a weekend getaway. Seriously!
I ended my stay with two nights in Ackselhaus. As I’d spent the first 5 nights in former West Berlin, and two nights in Dresden, I wanted some contrast so I chose to stay in Prenzlauer Berg to experience a different neighborhood. For location, it's excellent. There are more incredible restaurants so nearby that I'd need to stay a month to try them all. And it was so easy to get to Museum Island and other sights in that part of the city.
My room was on the 5th floor, so that required the elevator to the 4th floor, then walking up a flight of stairs with luggage to the room. I had the golf-themed room, which was more masculine than my tastes but it was tastefully decorated. I wish now I had requested a particular room as they were portrayed on the website. The room was spacious, the bed was large and the bathroom good sized. Everything was very clean. The room had hardwood floors, so it made it a bit creaky and it felt cold to me. I also heard a good deal of comings and goings from other guests, as the outdoors doors and floors are creaky too. I loved having sofas and a table to use though. Free wifi was great as well.
There was some street noise as there was a pub or something nearby that lent itself to rowdy passersby, so closed the window both nights to sleep.
I am not a fan of having to go outside and down the street for breakfast, because the breakfast café is shared with another property owned by the same people, that was just a minor inconvenience. The offerings were excellent though and the staff was friendly enough.
There seems to be some confusion about whether credit cards are accepted or not both on Trip Advisor and at the hotel itself. I initially declined the reservation when told it was cash-only, but the manager reversed that decision via email to me, so I accepted. On check-out, the desk staff needed to be told that the manager said credit card was ok, and after some difficulty, the credit card charge was processed (not Visa though, only MC). I would suggest ironing out that policy one way or the other.
Ultimately, I'm not sure whether this was good value for the price for me. While I loved the location and the restaurants nearby, I stayed in two other hotels that I enjoyed much more, with lower rates and better over value that same week.
Next up: Restaurants
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Where: Berlin for 10 days, including two days in Dresden