Berlin hotels

Old Mar 2nd, 2005, 03:12 PM
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Berlin hotels

Hi! We are planning our first trip to Berlin in JUNE --- and need some advice:
1. What area of the city is the most interesting to stay? Not too touristy, but also close enuf to attractions, etc?
2. May want to fly home out of another nearby city --- but only can spend 3 days in other city. Any ideas of cities close by for a brief stopover?

Thanks!
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Old Mar 2nd, 2005, 08:48 PM
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To me, POTSDAMMERPLATZ is ground zero for the best hotel location. It presents Berlin as the new metropolitan and it borders both east & west Berlin.
DRESDEN is the next major city where all the major attractions are located in one large complex. It's a two hour train ride from Berlin.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2005, 10:43 PM
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Apart from Potsdamer Platz, a newly developped square in the former death strip separating East Berlin from its Western counterpart, which is very conveniently located (though a bit touristy and still slightly sterile IMO), the Mitte district would be my other choice.

On Potsdamer Platz, I have stayed at the Grand Hyatt and the fairly new Berlin Marriott recently.
There is also a Ritz Carlton and an all suite hotel called Madison Suites here.

Mitte is the area just East of the Brandenburg Gate up to Alexanderplatz. There is an abundance of hotels here. The Westin Grand is in a brilliant location at the corner of Friedrichstrasse and Unter den Linden.
The Kempinski Adlon is in that unique spot on Unter den Linden facing the Brandenburg Gate and is one (if not THE) of the poshest hotels in Germany.
The Hilton on Gendarmenmarkt is a nice location, too. Same goes for the neighboring Regent (formerly the four Seasons, which is expensive, but doesn't have its own pool, if that's important) and the Dorint Sofitel Gendarmenmarkt.
The pretty new Berlin SAS Radisson is a bit further into the direction of (ugly) Alexanderplatz facing the Berlin Dom cathedral and is convenient to the Museum Island and the quite attractivly urban area around Hackescher Markt. It is a slightly minimalist modern hotel sporting a huge aquarium in its lobby and gets usually good reviews. I liked it, too.

Apart from that, the Grand Hyatt IMO is a perfect hotel combining modern decor with efficient and very friendly service and an aboslutely magnificent rooftop pool, spa and fitness club with views over Western Berlin.

I agree with DAX that, lovely Dresden would be an option.
Apart from that Hamburg (disclosure: I live here), jumps to mind, being only 90 minutes by ICE express train away. June would be a perfect time of year for sightseeing this city which is dominated by water. Lots of activities here - and you would have seen the two biggest German cities on one trip. Excursions to the Baltic Sea from either Berlin or Hamburg would also be feasible.

If you'd post some of your specific interests, I'd be glad to help if I can.

Enjoy planning
hsv
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Old Mar 3rd, 2005, 12:54 AM
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If you want to spend three days in another city that is worth, IMO, three WHOLE days, then take the 5.5 hour rail journey from Berlin to Prague and stay there. Dresden is interesting but I think Prague is much more so.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2005, 02:20 AM
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hsv, we are staying next month at the Maritim proArte hotel. Can you tell me anything about it ? (We didn't book it ourselves, we are going on a package organised by the Friends of Scottish Opera.) From the brief look at maps I've had so far it looks quite central, & it sounds quite funky, with artworks & designer furnishings. It gets quite good write-ups in the 3 entries it has on Trip Advisor.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2005, 02:59 AM
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caroline,

the Maritim proArte is indeed in a very good location. It is also on Friedrichstrasse not far from the train station of the same name and only aboout one block to Unter den Linden Blvd.

Apart from that, I have no experience with the hotel. I seem to remember that the German Maritim chain used to operate what's now the Westin Grand after the re-unification of Germany. After that management contract was cancelled, they started the proArte which was newly built, probably 5 to 6 years ago, I should think.
As the name suggests, they gave it a modern design and they have a pool, too, which is a feature that I usually appreciate on a city trip because I find it very relaxing to swim a few laps after a day out on town.
For some reason the proArte does not receive much notoriety around here (Germany, Hamburg in particular), whether that's for good or bad, I don't know. However when passing it about two weeks ago, I noticed a few tour buses outside, so I guess that and a few conferences is what they mainly are drawing their clientele from.

The Maritim chain has hotels of very inconsistent quality IMO. Their goal, I presume, is to operate in the 4 star segment of the market and their newer properties (of which the proArte is one) usually do perform up to that standard.
They also have a few properties that appear to have served as "cash-cows" over decades, i.e. that used to be far above average but due to lack of investment and renovations are simply outdated and worn nowadays (I am thinking of their Baltic Coast properties in Travemuende, Timmendorf and Kiel). This is one reason why I usually don't care too much for them. They also seem to have a focus on financing the real estate and operating the hotels for them might basically srve just as a by-product in order to retain the real-eastate market value (but this includes a good bit of speculation by myself).

What it comes down to: The proArte should be a more than decent hotel in a great location. And Berlin is a vibrant city these days (even though it's awfully cold currently, I hear). You should be fine!
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Old Mar 4th, 2005, 01:32 AM
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I agree with hsv, Hamburg is indeed a great destination if you want to experience a truly sophisticated german city. It's really like the Boston of Germany. Judging from your Scandinavian questions, it may make sense to stop in Hamburg on your way to Berlin. Hotel prices in Hamburg are also comparatively a bargain.
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Old Mar 4th, 2005, 01:38 AM
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hsv, thanks very much for your very helpful & interesting reply. I hadn't heard of Maritim before so thought it must be a German chain. We are looking forward to our stay even more now. Watch this space - I expect I'll be posting questions of my own soon !

Joe, sorry to butt in on your thread but maybe it has provided useful advice for you too.
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Old Mar 4th, 2005, 02:12 AM
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caroline,

you're welcome. You might want to start a new thread for your own questions, which I shall be happy to answer if possible.

I guess this hi-jacking of Joe's thread was legitimate in the way that the Maritim might indeed be an alternative for him, although I would rather stick to my reecommendations of before.

To make one thing clear that was probably not worded that well before:
The Radisson SAS is not on (ugly) Alexanderplatz, but rather a few hundred yards away, just steps from Unter den Linden Blvd., on Karl-Liebknecht-Str.

DAX,
funny that you were comparing Hamburg to Boston. When posting yesterday, I had felt tempted to draw such an anology myself, but shyed away from it, as I thought Boston was truly a great city. I do think Hamburg is, too, but then I evidently felt prejudiced, so I refrained to do that. All the more am I glad that you came up with it!

Cheers to everyone and have a great weekend!
hsv
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Old Mar 4th, 2005, 02:14 AM
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And in order to get the grammar straight: It should have read "I refrained from doing that."
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Old Mar 4th, 2005, 08:48 AM
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That comparison came easily knowing Joe is from Boston. I find both cities to be comfortable cities to visit. I am looking forward to the waterfront Hafen City when they finish building in Hamburg someday. It has a very cool website.

Back to Berlin, the Mitte would be my second choice mainly because I am not too crazy about Friedrichstrasse. It has too many boring shops. The worst hotel for me was the Westin, their rooms are screaming for renovation. I dislike the Regent(ex Four Seasons) which is over the top dripping with gold & glitter just like the staff. Absolutely nice bedrooms (for $300 when euro was cheap) but to me the hotel just doesn't belong in Berlin. Hotel Adlon on Unter den Linden seems to be the hotel to stay in the Mitte but I've been stuck to Potsdamerplatz ever since.
I still stand behind Pottsdamerplatz, both the Grand Hyatt and the Madison are business hotels so it's not touristy at all. The all suite Madison (135-250 euros)is a step above the Grand Hyatt for the same price or less. The larger suites are awesome without being pretentious. They get you any newspaper, rental bikes, or anything you wish from the supermarket. It's my kids favorite hotel in Germany.
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Old Mar 4th, 2005, 12:48 PM
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DAX,

I absolutely agree with you about the Regent and its by far too "bombastic" interiors. I basically mentioned it because its location is prime.
About the same is true for the Hilton. I am not too crazy for the hotel (its not that flamboyant, though), but its location is very nice indeed.
And even if you don't like Friedrichstrasse, there is still Unter den Linden Blvd. which has become "the" center of Berlin and has sort of surpassed Kurfuerstendamm in former Western Berlin.

Apart from that, if I had to choose between the Grand Hyatt (whose interior is pleasantly modern without being too sterile or minimalist) and the Madison, I'd still opt for the Grand Hyatt, if only for its rooftop spa, although I will admit that at a price difference of € 100.- I would opt for the Madison, too.

And last but not least, I am far from saying that Potsdamer Platz would be the wrong location to stay ( on my last two stays in Berlin, I had lodging there, too). One of its big advantages for instance is that its located conveniently to both centers - the Western Kurfuerstendamm area and the Eastern Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg.

However, if JoeBoston would like to stay anywhere else, the Radisson might be worth considering, as it is conveniently located for the hip area around Hackescher Markt and is in closer proximity to Prenzlauer Berg district than Potsdamer Platz. In its favor there is to say that they offer bargain rates of € 99.- for a double if booked 5 days or more in advance (prepaid, though).
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Old Mar 4th, 2005, 01:10 PM
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I liked Potsdamer Platz for its energy and for the contrast between old and new architecture. I also liked the new Marriott there for $55 USD/night/double though Priceline in October 2004.
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Old Mar 4th, 2005, 01:33 PM
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Hello hsv:
Haeckescher Markt/Rosenthalerstrasse made me think of London or Barcelona, definitely a must do. Having a low cost brunch on the square near Anna Kollwitscherstrasse(incorrect spelling) in Prenzlauerberg is also fun for people watching and getting some sun. I'll definitely check out the new Radisson on my next trip to Berlin in October.
I agree, the view from the Grand Hyatt spa is worth a lot. It's too bad that you can't enjoy it from the pool, you have to walk out to the bare empty terrace to enjoy it. Somebody should suggest to Hyatt to move the lounge up there during the warmer months.
The Madison feels more private and is my kids favorite hotel in Germany, but I also enjoy having the multiple rooms to spread plus the customized services they do.
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Old Mar 4th, 2005, 01:50 PM
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WOW Betsy $55 for the new Marriott, that's like hitting a jackpot! From what I understand Priceline is sort of like gambling because you can't specify which hotel. I guess I had the wrong idea that you can't book a 5 star hotel with Priceline. The question that comes to mind is how the staff treat Priceline guests, did you notice anything different? I have yet to try using Expedia, a few times I was close to it but changed my mind at the last minute.
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Old Mar 4th, 2005, 01:58 PM
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DAX,

the Marriott is indeed a gamble on Priceline. They list it as a 3-star, which it definitely isn't.
You might end up with another 3-star more in the Western parts, though, I believe the Savoy.
I did like the Marriott, too, but thought that service could be improved. E.g. they did not offer to help with the luggage upon check-in.
Their pool in the basement is a bit too small, too, for my taste.

Remembering that you once also mentioned that you liked a rustic dinner at Gugelhof in Prenzlauer Berg, we appear to have similar tastes in lodging, dining and seeing cities in general!
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Old Mar 4th, 2005, 03:28 PM
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HSV,

Yup, I notice that too but I figure people naturally flock toward the great/fun places. So we must have been hitting the right places. It looks like I may have to go to Berlin on my own for 3 nights after a London tradeshow in October. Please let me know if you find any new fun places to go/do. I'm thinking of catching a good play that's not too heavy.
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Old Mar 4th, 2005, 04:06 PM
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According to BiddingforTravel (bidding for travel.com), these are the hotels you'd be highly likely to be bidding for in the various areas of Berlin. If you'd be OK with any hotel in the category/area, there's no risk other than PL may be using an additional hotel that hasn't yet been reported at BFT. A quick check for recent bids at the three-star level indicates the Marriott is currently going for the low 70 USD range.

Tiergarten - Kufuerstendamm
5 Star
Swissotel
Intercontinental (another possible hotel; not reported yet)

4 Star
Crowne Plaza
Ramada Plaza Berlin
Top Alsterhof Hotel

3 Star
Top Concept Hotel
Marriott

Kreuzberg
4 Star
Moevenpick Hotel Berlin

East
4 Star
Park Plaza Berlin
Westin Grand Berlin
Derag Hotel Grosser Kurfürst

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Old Mar 4th, 2005, 04:12 PM
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Ooops! The correct address is www.biddingfortravel.com (no spaces--duh). I suggest you familiarize yourself with the bidding process as explained at BFT before trying to use PL. No, I'm not affiliated with either site in any way, other than as a happy customer.
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Old Mar 4th, 2005, 04:17 PM
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Another risk is being "upgraded" if you bid for a 3*. Then you are likely to get the Alsterhof, which is perversely rated 4*. I think it's reasonably likely a new hotel could come up - several have been added to the BFT list for Berlin in the past year or so and these were surprises to those who got them.
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