Hans D. Baumeister

Hans D. Baumeister

Intercity Hotel Hamburg Altona ***

Stayed: September 2018

I don‘t have a lot of experience with Intercity Hotels, having only stayed in two before (one was in Augsburg, not sure where the other was). So far, my experience has been all good. I chose the hotel in Altona because it was just three stops away from the office I had meetings at and was centrally located right at the Altona train station.

I had a room to the street side (apparently quieter than to the train station side, which makes sense). Unfortunately, this Intercity hotel was built quite differently from the ones I‘d been in before, with the wall thickness comparable to cheapo mediterranean hotels - it sounded like they were very thin.

Having stayed in a variety of Motel One hotels with nearly soundproof windows, I can also say that soundproofing can be done better than here.

The room size was as expected (I think the rooms are all the same in this hotel chain) and it was very clean. The mattresses, however, were hard as a board - I tend to like my mattress harder rather than softer, but this was rediculous. Sure, hard mattresses last longer than soft ones, but if you don‘t sleep well, then someone in purchasing made a bad decision!

Also, despite being fitted with a thermostat control (set your temperature and it should hold it), the shower temperature had frequent hot or cold „swings“ that were so quick that you didn‘t have time to get out from under the spray.

I didn‘t have breakfast, so I can‘t judge that.

You do get a free pass for riding the local public transit (including ferries), so that is a plus.

All in all, if you don‘t mind sleeping on logs and have to take an S-Bahn to somewhere else in Hamburg, the location is great (Altona is a really nice borough). If you have an issue with hard mattresses, look elsewhere!
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Hotel International am Theater, Münster ***

Stayed: Sept. 2018

The hotel is right across from the theater (nomen est omen) and quite centrally located in the city, despite being more on the rim.
The bed was very comfortable and I don‘t remember ever having a larger television in a hotel room than here. The room seemed to have been renovated recently, everything looked quite modern and new. The bathroom was done up new as well and quite functional despite it being rather small.
 
Negative aspect here: the windows! These looked like they were from the 70‘s. I wasn‘t able to close them all the way, so they leaked in cold air and noise from outside (of which there was plenty, apparently the street the hotel on - despite being a side street - is quite popular.
 
It would have been really nice of the staff to turn on the heating, too - I came into a freezing room and was happy to find out that the heating worked quite well.
 
Breakfast was relatively simple but with plenty of choices of cold foods - no warm food, unfortunately.
 
All in all the stay - with the exception of the windows which need to be replaced quite desperately - was ok, especially for the price (€80 including breakfast).
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Mecklenburger Hof, Mirow ****

After experiencing some severe service issues in other locales in the area, we were very positively surprised about the friendly service and the excellent food at Mecklenburger Hof.

The menu is quite extensive, covering meat, fish, vegetarian, kids food, etc., and everyone should find something to eat here. The pricing was "medium" and - for the quality - appropriate. We decided to eat indoors, as it was a bit cool outside and the extreme traffic on route 198 would have been too annoyingly loud.

We had lunch here mid-July 2018.
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London Bridge Hotel - Superior Room ***

If you read my review from last week‘s stay at London Bridge Hotel, then you know that this week I stayed there again. Due to their standard rooms being booked, I took a category up, which they call „Superior Room“.
 
So I‘ll just go into the differences to the standard room - please read my review of that first.
 
The room was to the rear of the hotel and on the top (5th) floor. I‘d requested a rear room before checking out the week before, because the street noise was surprisingly high in the front.
 
This room seemed a bit larger than the standard room, but not to the point where I would call it a major upgrade. The bathroom was identical, with all the caveats - especially setting the shower to the right temperature was annoying, but I had learned form the previous week.
 
The view was of rooftops and a huge metal exhaust stack to the right (I was in room 502). I learned quickly what this exhaust is when I returned after dinner, having turned off the AC on my way out (no need to burn energy keeping it running): it is the exhaust from the restaurant. Turning off the AC apparently removed the overpressurization from the room, as it smelled of food quite badly when I returned. I ended up leaving the AC on the rest of my stay.
 
The TV was a different (likely newer) model without the glaring blue LED clock in the standard room. Good thing, too, as it was mounted on the wall and would have been difficult if not impossible to cover up at night.
 
I didn‘t have breakfast this time round either, so I can‘t comment on that.
 
All in all, the comfort level - even in the superior room - just doesn‘t match the very high cost of this hotel.
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London Bridge Hotel - London ***

Stayed: June 2018

The hotel is located right in the vicinity of both London Bridge Station and the Tube station by the same name. It isn‘t very far from the Thames. The vicinity to the train and tube stations has a negative aspect: you do get train noise, at least if you have a room towards the front (as I did).

The room was a standard room but was still quite comfortable with a queen size bed and a large screen TV. The bathroom was on the smallish side - definitively only for one person at a time.
Unfortunately, despite the price of the room (259 GBP standard - I paid a corporate rate), all wasn‘t as expected or hoped for.
 
The hotel advertises free Wifi, but this comes at a price: you have to set up a profile with your name and email address. As a tip: if you don‘t care about resetting your password, you can enter just about any legal email address - you don‘t have to verify it at any point; had I known, I would have done just that. It‘ll be interesting to see how many emails I get in the future addressed to a Mr. Noneof Yourbusiness! What was really annoying is the wait for the login screen to come up after connecting to the Wifi using iOS devices - since my PC was much quicker, it must me some compatibility issue. Wifi speed was ok but not spectacular.
 
The second annoyance was the faucet in the bathtub/shower. I‘d read in some reviews on this hotel that people had issues getting warm water. This was the case on my first morning as well, until I turned the temperature dial of the thermostat all the way up - then, the water turned tepid. No hot showers here!
 
The thermostat for the AC only gives you a scale from -3 to +3 … something. There is a „K“ at the bottom, maybe it‘s in Kelvin, I don‘t know. You‘ll have to experiment, „0“ was too cold for me.
 
You get a surprising amount of noise from the street below if you‘re to the front - anything from yelling people to cars screeching their tires or with their radios turned all the way up. Considering that the road is simply a drop-off road for the train station, this was surprising and annoying.
 
Even more annoying was the silly noises coming from the room above me (at least that is what it sounded like) on both nights at right around 23:30h. It sounded like someone was dragging furniture around - not sure if there was a storage room above me or what, but I can‘t recommend room 117 for that reason!
 
The bed was completely inundated with pillows, each side had two regular white pillows, a large rough-covered one and a small decorative pillow. I‘m absolutely not a fan of this trend to „lux up“ rooms by dumping pillows on the bed - I only need one, anything more is too much. The issue is: where do you put them at night?
 
The TV was a pain, as well. For one thing, it had a bright blue LED digital clock that was just completely too bright. I found that the small pillows were just the right size to cover it up at night. Also, there was a complete column of pixels that was black - almost down the center of the picture.
 
For the positive, the closet hat plenty of hangers (though not so much space for longer clothes) and an iron with board (didn‘t need it).
 
I didn‘t have breakfast at the hotel, so I can‘t comment on that.
 
I will stay here again next week, so look for an update on this review as I‘m in a superior room (regular rooms were booked). I‘ll likely have breakfast on one of the two mornings as well.
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relexa hotel Bellevue, Hamburg ***

Stayed: June 2018

This is a very rustic and historic hotel on the Alster not too far from the Kennedy bridge and with the bar and restaurant section of St. Georg just behind it. It is about 15 minutes walk from the central train station, but there is no public transport (at least none I could see) very near it.
 
My room seemed ancient. I have no idea when the building was constructed (1800‘s?) but the floor seemed original. It creaked with every step and I felt very sorry for the people below me, especially after getting in quite late one night.
 
The room looked over the Alster (well mostly over trees in front of the Alster) and the windows were really well soundproofed - the street between the hotel and the Alster is very busy, but it wasn‘t a problem. What was a problem was the lack of A/C, so unless the room service shut the drapes against the afternoon sun (they didn‘t!) it was baking. The windows had insect screening, so getting fresh air in wasn’t a problem - just not over night.
 
Breakfast was quite good but extremely full on both days - on the first day my colleague and I actually had to request for a second dining room to be opened, as the regular one was overfilled with guests.
 
All in all, I felt the price of the room was too high for what you get (around 160€ per night).
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Hotel Alsterblick, Hamburg **

Stayed: June 2018

The room was booked via HRS for two nights - about 1/2 hour after booking, I received an email from the hotel (in German) to the effect that „as I had been informed on the booking platform, there was some construction going on at the hotel, but only between 7AM and 5PM“. Surprised, I re-checked HRS and was able to confirm that no such notice had been posted in hotel entry there.
The entire hotel is encased in scaffolding - both on the street side as well as in the back. The front is so closed up you feel like you‘re walking into a cave.
 
My room, No. 6, was on the „ground“ floor (this is several steps up from the street) in the back. It was a very small room, with a tiny closet and an even tinier bathroom. The bed was comfortable, so I slept well, but luckily I spent most of my time outside the room.
The bathroom was a tiny thing off the side, with no door to keep any smells out of the sleeping area. No A/C was available, by the way, but this wasn‘t much of a problem despite high temperatures outside during the day.
 
The sink in the bathroom was likely the smallest sink I have seen in my life, even smaller than the tiny thing we have in the guest toilet in our house. Using it was a bit of a challenge. Even more of a challenge was the toilet, as the TP holder had been positioned (unnecessarily) exactly in knee height, which made straight sitting on it impossible. The ultimately rediculous instrument was the shower.  It was a corner thing (see picture) flattened at the front, which left a triangle of about 70x70cm to stand in. The rather large mixing battery stuck straight in my back, so „adjusting“ the handle both in water quantity and temperature was unavoidable. To make matters worse, the soap dispenser had - for whatever bizarre reason - been mounted exactly in head height… anyone with more than 20kg too much on their ribs will not be taking a shower here.
Also, while the entire back of the room was taken up by ceiling-high windows, with a nice view into the rather large park behind the building (and the not-so-nice scaffolding attached to it) it also meant that you absolutely needed to let down the inside window covering to prevent prying eyes from watching you.
 
Enough complaining about the room, especially because I was told that it would be completely rebuilt, taking a part of the hallway leading to it to create a larger double room.
 
Breakfast was quite nice with yoghurt, fruit, cereal, rolls, meats/cheese, some hot foods, etc. Nothing missing there, except for spoons which I had to request on both mornings.
 
The hotel is not located close to anything relevant, unless you‘re willing to do some walking. „Downtown“ is quite some distance away - even St. Georg is a trek. I didn‘t have my car in Hamburg, so I don‘t know if they offer parking somewhere, but likely not. You‘ll probably be taking a lot of taxis if you stay here.
 
I‘m unable to comment on the other - probably quite a bit bigger - rooms, but they are likely as ancient looking as the one I stayed in. The door to my room was probably as old as the house (1800‘s?) - optically nice, of course, but just not very practical. I did notice while re-checking for the supposed construction warning that regular rooms were quite expensive (around 140€ per night), which I find to be too much for what you get. Yes, you are right across the (busy) street from the Alster, but so what?
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Hotel Andra, Munich ****

The hotel is three blocks from the Munich central train station, so if you are good on foot, you can walk there in approximately 12-15 minutes. The advantage of the location is the relative lower level of traffic as compared to the first two blocks of Goethe street.
 
Reception is one floor up from the ground, but there is an elevator that covers all four floors of the hotel. Staff is very friendly and I was very happy to have a room to the back, as this is usually quieter than the street side. The room is mid-size with a desk and chair combination and - in this particular room (45) - two separate single beds.
 
The bathroom was clean but - considering the hotel was apparently renovated in 2010 - rather bland. The shower tap, unfortunately, was pretty much a nightmare as the right temperature was impossible to find and just nudging over the handle would give you either scalding hot or freezing cold.
 
The room had no A/C and, since it doesn't have an external shutter either, probably gets quite warm in the summer. The bed wasn't great as far as comfort goes, but bearable. The desk didn't have a lamp on it, which I found strange, making work and especially Facetime pretty gloomy.
 
The Wifi is spotty - sometimes it was quite fast and sometimes nothing seemed to move. After about an hour of YouTube streaming, they apparently cut me off (since neither available access point gave me any traffic, yet my iPhone still worked). Not very nice.
 
Breakfast was quite an amazing sight - likely the largest and most varied breakfast buffet I've ever seen in a hotel this size. They even had Weisswurst with Pretzel and sweet mustard, a Bavarian specialty. Very impressive.
 
All in all this is certainly a hotel you can book, though no guarantees on the room temperature in the summer. It isn't anywhere near a tram or S-Bahn station, so you'll need to walk about 15 minutes either direction to get on public transport.
 
Be aware that at my time of stay, there was a giant construction site that looks like they tore down half a block just on the other side of the hotel (about 50m away). They start work pretty early (7:00h).
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Max Garni Düsseldorf****

This is a great little hotel within walking distance of Düsseldorf's main train station (about 7 minutes walk, not counting traffic lights). It is on a street crossing, but since I had a room to the rear of the building, I had no noise issues at night. I don't think the streets the hotel is on are very busy at night anyway, so you'll probably be ok in front as well.

Very clean, nice and modern room. Personnel is very friendly. Didn't check for A/C, unfortunately. Price/Value absolutely top level.

Breakfast is pretty limited in selection, though they offer to make you eggs to order.

The only negative thing that I remember is the front door: the automatic closer apparently has an issue as it doesn't restrain the door in the last few centimeters, causing it to slam (loudly) every time someone comes in. That is a real issue at night, as you will wake up from it. Luckily, the hotel wasn't booked while I was there, so I only woke up once.

I would go stay here again!

Stayed: March, 2018
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Schweizer Stubb, Kaiserslautern *

Stayed: March 2018

The hotel is right across the way from a huge shopping center (K-Center) and not so far from the main shopping streets of Kaiserslautern. While that might sound enticing to those not willing to walk far, be warned!
 
For one thing, the hotel doesn't have an elevator. I was put in a room at the very top, so that meant going up three levels of stairs. This room (number 8) seemed to be straight out of the 80's, with no renovation having taken place whatsoever. A/C is non-existent - I was there when it was cold out, so I can't say anything about how well the place is insolated, but I'm pretty sure it gets mighty warm up there in the summer.
 
To be fair, everything was very clean. This didn't help the flair of the room or the bathroom any, though. It just screamed "old" at you. The closet was missing a key, so to keep the doors from opening on their own you would have to switch back and forth with the single remaining key between the doors.
 
The bathroom had a reverse-flush toilet (that were popular back then), so you get to both admire and olfactorily process whatever you leave in it. There are holes in the tiles in many locations, from things that were fixed there previously. The tiles, however, are so hideous that the holes in them actually better their look. Ah, and apparently, some time (likely in the 90's) one of the valves of the tap on the sink had to be replaced. Now, both valves have a red dot, so you can only guess which is cold and which is hot. Tap with a mixer? Nope - not for the sink nor for the shower.
 
The bed (two single beds on each side of the room) was comfortable enough. Unfortunately, you can't close the drapes all the way, so you get spillage of some massive lighting from across the street (remember: there is a shopping mall there) into the room. If you need complete darkness to sleep properly, you're SOL.
 
Also, starting around 5:30 AM, delivery trucks start arriving. As the roof beneath the window flattened out, I wasn't able to see the street, but it sounded like they were right below me. Ear plugs are in order here.
 
Breakfast is simple but nice and the owners offer you different types of eggs to go with your breakfast.
 
To top things off, there is a price list in a glass case just outside the door to the hotel, advertising a much lower rate than I paid when booking via HRS. That took it from two to one star for me.
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Hotel Expo Verona ****

The room was clean and modern, even the window opened a slit to let air in (unusual for a large hotel like this). The AC worked fine, the bed was comfortable.
One really annoying thing was the location of the water tap for the shower (see picture): this was - at least for me - exactly in knee hight so that I kept tapping against it accidentally, turning the water hotter. Not a good thing and for me worth taking half a star off the rating.

The only other thing that bothered me was that while breakfast had a pretty good selection, the scrambled eggs were so soggy that I didn't even bother putting them on my plate - quite clearly not cooked through. Another half star (I love scrambled eggs).

A bit odd was the elevator arrangement. There were three elevators next to one another - exactly evenly spaced. The right one, as it turned out, was for "personnel only" (something that you'll usually find at a different location in most hotels). The only thing that told me this was a small sign next to the elevator; the call button looked exactly like the one between the other two doors and it took me a while to figure out that even though I'd pressed the call button, the elevator wouldn't be coming for me. Ergonomics gone out the window.

Since I didn't pay for the room (nor even found out what it cost), I can't comment on the price/performance ratio, but I can certainly recommend the hotel based on a qualitative decision.
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