Hotel Goethe, Munich **

A colleague reserved the hotel for me for two nights, because it used to be a favorite years ago with folks from Kleindienst Datentechnik and because it was relatively inexpensive, yet close to the Munich central train station.

It really is a relatively short walk (two blocks) down Goethe street, which isn’t as inundated with sex shops, etc., as some of the other streets in the area.

To make things short, I can’t really recommend the hotel, for a couple of reasons:
1) the toilet smelled - well, unclean - for my entire stay - as if it hadn’t been cleaned for a while.
2) the shower was annoying - the shower head didn’t fit properly into the holder (too loose), causing it to spray anywhere but where it was supposed to spray.
3) the heat was turned off pretty early in the evening (at least when I got in on the second day at around 10PM, it was already off). The heater in the bathroom didn’t seem to work at all.
4) there was a continuous swell of cold air “falling” from the window. Since the bed was right against the window, I needed two blankets to get halfway comfortable at night.
5) there is no elevator…
6) the fire escape stairs are fitted to rear windows in the stairway. While this is in general quite ok, here it isn’t, as the windows are more than 1m off the floor! I.e.: older folks probably would have serious difficulties getting up the window sill to get out in case of a fire, and children wouldn’t be able to open the window at all (see picture)
7) the lady at reception publicly bawled out a cleaning lady for doing a bad job cleaning the rooms (see point 1 above?) - since reception and the breakfast room are one big area, everyone in the breakfast room was party to this.
8) the hairdryer was “rigged” by running two copper wires (insulated, mind you) from the nearest outlet (see picture), which means: no connection to earth and subsequently no protection from electric shock whatsoever, should the hair dryer fail or get wet!

The hotel is run by a Turkish family, and breakfast is very much like it is in smaller hotels in Istanbul (which I thoroughly enjoy) - the only highlight in my opinion.



Hotel Topas, Frankfurt ***

The hotel is close to the side exit of Frankfurt’s central station. The lobby is like the rest of the hotel: very utilitarian and somewhat cramped. I had room 20, which faces a courtyard, so it gets no street noise.

While that was fine, the room is pretty cramped and the refrigerator sits right next to the bed, albeit in a cabinet. The fridge is completely empty but running, making low but hearable noises right next to your pillow. It can’t be turned off or unplugged. The pillow was way too fluffy, with no alternatives available.

The bathroom is ok - unfortunately, the shower doesn’t have a thermostat to control the temperature, and it took me a good two minutes to get the temperature of the water right. Also, there is a soap dispenser in the shower and an identical unit by the sink, but both are so tough to operate, that I would guess neither a child nor a normal woman would be able to get soap out of the things. Its a system I’ve never seen before - probably for a reason.

Breakfast is pretty simple, just rolls with jam / butter and a selection of cheese slices and cheap meats, yoghurt, some cereals in dispensers and extremely hardboiled eggs.

The place is ok - I would stay there again if better hotels (all in the same price range) in the area weren’t available.

I paid €55 including breakfast.

Juncker's Hotel Garni (Pension), Berlin *

Juncker’s Hotel
Grünberger Str.

While the Juncker's also has a hotel section, I stayed in the "pension" section - so this review doesn't cover the hotel.

The room was extremely reasonably priced, but barely worth the money. It was very small with a single bed, a small desk and a sink in the room. The window went to a courtyard, so I hoped for a quiet night - but alas: there seems to be a bar of some sort in the square and quite possibly (I couldn't tell), the smokers go out back. Needless to say: rest without earplugs was a no-go.

The bathroom is off the hallway and is shared by all rooms on that hallway. While there are separate toilets for men and women, the showers (2) are not separate - not sure how that works. I had to get up early, so I had no competition for the shower, but I can imagine that during rush hour, this can get quite annoying. I counted 5 rooms on the floor.

The bathroom was in general quite run-down, though it seemed clean. The only irritating thing was a hole in the wall of the men's toilet with what looked like mouse droppings around it.

I didn't bother with breakfast so I can't comment on that.

All in all,
I don't recommend the Pension part. I've stayed for even less in small hotels that offered the bathroom in the room and - while you certainly can't expect a posh room - seemed to offer more in every respect.

Hotel Kraft, Munich ****

Hotel Kraft
Schillerstr. 49

I've stayed in a number of hotels in Munich's Schillerstrasse (part of the redlight district), most of them are surrounded by bars (the kind where drinks are expensive) and other establishments. The noise level tends to be annoying.

The Kraft Hotel is all the way down Schillerstrasse, in a really and surprisingly quiet section. Okay, it is a bit of a hike to the central train station, but if you're good on foot, that isn't an issue.

The room I had was spacious, the bathroom quite ok, possibly with the exception of the shower doors which are a bit annoying - they go all the way down to the floor (there is no tub) and somewhat difficult to adjust.

The room was decorated with very nice, old furniture and the bed was spacious and comfortable.

Had the breakfast included more than just factory rolls and the usual toppings, with cereal and yoghurt, I probably would have given the place 5 stars. I like a good breakfast and while this was ok, it was just that: ok.

All in all a very good value and to be recommended.
Not sure about parking (I travel by train), but that did look a bit difficult.

Sebastianushof, Bad Godesberg **

The hotel is quite a ways up the hill from the town center of Bonn-Bad Godesberg.
I picked it because of an event at the Godesburg, which is about 5 minutes walk from the hotel.

The hotel is right across the road from a major construction site fitted with a huge crane, where they seem to be building a new house. Subsequently, the noise level starts to go up quite drastically at around 7AM. Throughout the night, noise from the street was relatively minor (not a lot of traffic).

The window however, looks just like the ones my grandmother had in her house, and those were from the 70’s. The noise abatement from the window is close to nil.

The bed is comfortable enough and you’re supplied a full-size and a half-size pillow, which is nice (I happen to be a fan of half-size pillows).

The bathroom is functional (no more!), though the drain in the shower was stopped up and quite obviously, no one had filled the siphon of the floor drain in a while, as the room reeked of sewage gas. Two glasses of water in the siphon and all was well. I always wonder just why on earth the guests always have to take care of something like that.

Breakfast is quite ok, with scrambled eggs as the “hot food”.

All in all, an ok place to stay, but at €75 (+€8 for breakfast) a couple of notches too expensive for the quality and the location.


International am Theater, Muenster**

The reviews for the hotel seemed to indicate a good place to stay. As it seemed to be in a decent location for getting into the old part of the city, I booked it.

First impression from the outside: wow, what an ugly building. That partially has to do with the eminent architecture in the north of Germany: brick. If you’re not used to it and the masons didn’t put some twists into the design (i.e. Amsterdam style), brick buildings are all ugly. And: an ugly building doesn’t say anything about the hotel on the inside.

The location is quite decent - a short walk will take you to all the major sights in the old part of the city.

The gentleman at reception was nice enough, explaining everything and even proactively asking if one would like some tips on going for food - which, strangely enough, is pretty rare amongst hotel receptionists worldwide.

The room that was to be mine for the night (no. 27) was quite small, with a single bed. It smelled like spring cleaning of a college latrine, a smell that got worse when I went into the bathroom (which really could use renovation). The culprit was a huge dose of cleaning liquid on the “pan” of the toilet. Yep - you know, the type of toilet that lets you measure your success - with a ruler if necessary. The type of toilet I completely abhor. Mainly, because I never carry a ruler on travels.
Oh, and: shampoo from paper packages? Give me a break! Is it that expensive to put a soap thingie in the shower?

The window was difficult to open, mainly because the latch works differently than about 99% of all windows in Germany. The window is huge and looks quite old (I ventured a guess: 1970), but turned out to be from 1994, at least going by the date stamped on the metal between the two sheets of glass.

The area is relatively quiet - an advantage, as the closed window doesn’t seem to abate any noise from outside whatsoever.

Wifi is free for guests - unfortunately, I wasn’t able to connect at all: “Connection timeout”, no matter what I tried.

Breakfast was simple, with fruit salad from a can, some yoghurt, rolls, bread, jam, various sausage / meats and cheese. Unfortunately, the sausage / meats weren’t cooled, so even though we were quite early for breakfast, things were already starting to “cloud over”. No warm foods except for boiled eggs.

All in all ok for a night, though I don’t plan on staying here again.

Ramada Hotel Kassel City Centre ***

The Hotel is quite close to the high-speed train station (Kassel Wilhelmshoehe): 3 Tram stops.
The room is okay in size, clean and relatively modern. I had a room with two single beds that apparently were made for pushing together if desired.

Absolute highlight was breakfast. While quite pricy at €16, the buffet lacks almost nothing except perhaps a better selection of fresh (not canned) fruit. Excellent.

Less excellent was the shower - the fixture was impossible to operate to a decent temperature, it turned out either too hot or too cold, even when moving the lever only a few millimeters. Also, the showerhead didn’t stick properly in its holder, so it would turn to the side spontaneously (turn down the water pressure to reduce this problem).

All in all quite pricy (probably because the Documenta 13 is going on) but certainly comfortable and quiet.

Internet access via Telekom access point (great if you have an account, like I do).


Thermenhotel, Bad Soden/Taunus *

The hotel had relatively good reviews on HRS, and there aren’t that many hotels available in the area, so I booked it.

I had room 8, which I absolutely CANNOT recommend. There seems to be the compressor/condenser unit bolted to the outside wall of the room, which makes the wall vibrate at a continuously changing, low-frequency pitch. For me, that meant sleeping with ear plugs, though which the noise was still slightly audible!

The bathroom seems to be a relict of the 60’s, in a rather negative way. The window in the bathroom is a single-pane job, which means that it will likely be extremely uncomfortable on a cold, winter day.

The window of the room (to the street) was dual-pane but imprinted with a manufacturing date of 1992 - subsequently, noise from the rather busy street (even late at night) is only slightly abated.

The carpet in the room seemed to be from the same year as the window - while it wasn’t particularly dirty, it gave off an extremely used sheen, especially around the door.

Breakfast was okay, but the room was much too expensive.

Rooms to the back are likely quieter.

Arora Park Hotel Slough ***

The hotel is very near to Heathrow airport and extremely close to BancTec’s UK headquarters (just around the corner).

The area around the hotel is mostly apartment buildings and some industry. There is a pub with Thai food across the road and an Italian restaurant down the road. I’ve eaten twice at the pub - the food is quite good, though the term “haute cuisine” comes to mind when looking at the size of the portions.

Being so close to the airport, the overhead traffic is ridiculous, the nearer runway brings 747s and A380s thundering an estimated 200 meters right over the street. Despite this, the noise level in the room (my room was towards the road) is extremely abated, thanks to double windows. Unfortunately, the windows can’t be opened because of this, but during the airport’s operating hours, this isn’t to be recommended anyway.

The room was clean and quite spacious, with a handy clothes iron in a flat cabinet against one wall. As with many hotels, the availability of electrical outlets is a negative point. While there are outlets on the floor under the small desk (get on all fours, please), there are none at all on either side of the bed.

The bathroom is ok, the bathtub has a shower curtain (which I can’t stand), though to be fair, it was quite clean and not as clingy as some I’ve encountered.

Breakfast is pretty much a joke measured by continental Europe standards, but may be standard in the UK at this time. It is labelled “continental breakfast” which consists of bread (a toaster is supplied - but only one), some packaged cereals, some (fat-free) yoghurt, fruit and little packets of jam to spread on the bread. Some prepackaged muffins and croissant are also available, as well as (very strong) coffee. We were the only guests in the “restaurant”.

Parkhotel Kerpen *

Two things really annoyed me about this hotel:
1) they don’t have non-smoking rooms
2) nomen non est omen - not sure if there ever was a park anywhere in the vicinity - there certainly isn’t now. The hotel is in a commercial area that has all the flair you can expect from concrete buildings with colorful advertising signs.

Regarding the missing non-smoking rooms, this is the plakard they likely have in every room:


What the heck does that solve? Keep your smoking to a minimum?

I had a chat with the lady at reception about it - after beating around the bush with exclamations like “what do you think smokers would do in a non-smoking room, not smoke?”, she admitted that they had no non-smoking rooms at all.

On the plus side, they put a high-tech looking ionization device in my stinky room for about half an hour after I left, which seemed to help quite a bit. And, luckily, no one to the left or right of me smoked at night (which tends to stink worse than when it happens in the same room).

Still, I cannot recommend this hotel to any non-smokers out there.

The bathroom was ok, with a thermostat in the shower. Even though the room faced the rather busy road, the windows did a fair job of keeping the noise out.

The next olfactory assault came about the next morning, when I distinctly smelled bacon and eggs - from bed!
That smell turned obnoxious as soon as I got to the hallway; apparently, the kitchen smells from breakfast drift straight up the stairs (I was on the 3rd and final floor), unimpeded by the fire doors as these were kept wide open, to collect in a smelly dinge at the very top of the building - which happened to be my hallway. Yikes!

Hotel Jakoberhof, Augsburg *

There were three events going on in Augsburg, and I was unable to get a room in one of the hotels I usually stay in. The Jakoberhof was the last hotel in the city that had a room available on HRS.

It is an old hotel near the Fuggerei (but a ways from city center) that consists of a main building and two side buildings.
I was in building “37”, with the room facing the main building via the courtyard, but also the rather busy Pilgerhausstrasse, making for anything but the promised “quiet room”.

The room is ok in size, the furnishings are Ikea-quality, the bathroom seems refurbished within the last few years, and is seemingly clean. On second look, it shows its age, with this relic from the 70’s:
Pasted Graphic

Also, this “hack” was the only way to sleep:
Pasted Graphic 1

The door was so loose, that it clacked back and forth very loudly anytime someone opened or closed the front door.
Most likely, the door gasket was hardened, as the door also let through any and all noise from the corridor.

Breakfast was ok, they even had fresh fruit.


Hotel Riegele, Augsburg **

Sometime late 2010, I stayed in this hotel before, and seem to remember not being very happy with the choice.
This time, I’ve decided to document the stay immediately as a reminder to myself…

The hotel is located straight across from the train station, and subsequently very near our Augsburg offices. So far so good.
It also has a restaurant in the same building (run by the same company) that serves up very high quality German food.

Due to its vicinity to the train station and two very busy roads (that intersection very near the hotel), a room to the front is absolutely not to be recommended unless you are hard of hearing. Even to the back, the road noise is prevalent, mainly due to the ancient, no: antique windows. These are 1950’s style: two separate single-pane windows in separate frames, which are put together in a single unit. Needless to say, they don’t just keep noise out very badly, they are also an insulation nightmare.

The room I’m in is actually quite nice: number 401, top floor, under the roof. The bathroom contains everything you need, but quite clearly in dire need of renovation: tiles are cracked and pitted, the shower is “old-school” (a good 8” off the ground). The entire bathroom is lit by a single lamp above the sink. The grouting and silicon in the shower itself is ill-fitting or missing, which gives it a bit of a yuck-factor. The ultimate disaster in the bathroom has to be the shower tap, however. I personally prefer a thermostatic system, where you give it a temperature with one knob and vary the water volume with the other. While these are still relatively rare, the usual system is one with a ceramic cartridge where you vary volume and temperature by moving a lever up-down and left-right. The one in this bathroom must have been from 1940: just two knobs. One for hot, one for cold. To make things even worse, they opened in opposite directions! Imagine my confusion while desperately trying to make the cold shower warmer without setting it to scaldingly hot!

Also, there are no electrical outlets anywhere near the bed. If you want to charge your smartphone overnight and use it as an alarm, you’ll need to plug it into the outlet at the desk and get set to walk across the room to silence it. Wait: there are no free outlets at the desk! There is a 3-outlet strip floppily laying on top, but all three outlets are used (Refrigerator, TV, Lamp). Out go the fridge and TV to make room for the laptop and mobile phone chargers…

Wifi isn’t free, by the way, but it only costs €2 for 24 hours. Unfortunately, something was wrong with the internet connection when I stayed - while the connection to the hotspot (with a password for the network AND a password for the hotspot!) worked fine, there was nearly no traffic in or out.

Breakfast, included in the roomrate, is okay. Fresh fruit salad, yoghurt, various rolls, meats, cheese, scrambled egg, bacon, etc. Everything is there.

All in all, the room is okay, assuming you can get one to the back of the building in order to keep roadnoise to a minimum. However, the room rate is absolutely too much (€85 with breakfast) for what you get. If they offered the room for, say, €55, then I would come back. For the current rate, I will go elsewhere.

Hilton Westend, Budapest***

BancTec held the 2012 EMEA sales conference at this hotel in the center of Budapest, right around the corner of the Westend trainstation on the Pest side of the Donau.

The hotel is directly connected to the large Westend City Center (basically a huge shopping mall) - you can enter the center straight through the hotel’s “back door”.

The room was large enough and nicely appointed, however:
1) my room faced Vaci street, a very busy thoroughfare. Apparently, there is a hospital somewhere near, as the sound of ambulances passing was relatively frequent. Unfortunately, the windows are anything but sound blocking, which gives you a constant noise level throughout the night.

2) there was a distinct sewage smell in the bathroom. I tried getting rid of it by putting some water in all three siphons that might be dried out: sink, bathtub and shower - but to no avail. The smell stayed with me my entire stay. To be fair, I didn’t bother telling reception about it until I checked out, perhaps they would have fixed it immediately.

3) the shower door was distorted (I’m completely at a loss at how something like that can happen), leaving a large gap through which water got onto the floor. Not my problem, but annoying anyhow.

Also, while I did not have that issue in my room, some colleagues complained that they were unable to turn the heating off in their room. The term “sauna” fell more than once.

The conference area is nice enough, no complaints there. Breakfast is fantastic, we had one dinner on-site which was ok as well.

I have stayed in other hotels in Budapest (such as the Mariott) that are nicer and better “in shape”, but the Hilton is nice enough to get a recommendation.

Mind you, it is imperative to mention “Westend” multiple times to anyone wanting to visit you, as there is another Hilton on the Buda side that apparently is much better known to locals than the one I was at...

Intercity-Hotel Augsburg ****

The Intercity Hotel in Augsburg is right around the corner from the central train station.
The building complex isn’t what you would call attractive, but when you’re inside, all is well.
For some reason, this hotel is only rated 7.2 by people that booked via HRS and stayed here. I’m not really sure why. The rooms are large enough and quite clean. Yes, the bathroom fixtures probably should be renovated - I’ve had rooms with cracks in the sink, and most of the rooms I’ve had really needed a new shower head, but these little issues haven’t kept me from coming back.

Breakfast is really quite good, though it gets extremely hectic when there is a trade fair in Augsburg. Wether it is worth €14 to you is a personal decision, I’ve had certainly had similar breakfast buffets at a lower cost.

The hotel can be had for attractive rates when booking early - due to the prime location near the train station (and subsequently, not far from Munich, should the hotels in that city be full due to Oktoberfest or a trade fair). If you try to book it just a couple of days ahead, then it will generally cost more than €100. When I stay, I’m usually in the price range of €65-75.

While it is very close to the train station and subsequently, very close to my employer’s Augsburg office, it is a strong walk away from city center. A fast walker will make it there in 10-15 minutes on foot.

With your room key, you get a pass that allows you to use Augsburg-city public transport for free - and since the tram station is right in front of the entrance, this should alleviate the inconvenience of location for most people.

The street in front of the hotel is a main thoroughfare, subsequently I recommend you get a room to the back, if possible.

Hotel Ost am Kö, Augsburg **

(Updates below)

A really pleasant hotel in the heart of Augsburg “downtown”. Clean and quaint. Very friendly front desk staff.

The breakfast is great, with a large selection of different foods.

I’ve had the luck so far to have a room towards the back - it is quite possible that the rooms to the front are a bit loud, as the hotel is on a main thoroughfare with quite a bit of car and tram traffic.

It takes about 5 minutes of quick walking to get to the train station and only about 3 minutes to get to the Rathausplatz.

I have booked the hotel via HRS as well as the hotel website.

The hotel has “regular” and “premium” rooms. I’ve had both (a free “Christmas gift” upgrade - thank you!) - the premium rooms are larger, other than that the regular rooms are just fine.

There is Wifi in the entire hotel, but it is run by T-Online, which means it isn’t free (unless you’re a member). There is free internet on a computer in the hotel lobby.

The hotel has a sauna, but I haven’t used it so far.

------------- Update March 20, 2012 ----------------

Stayed in the hotel again March 19-20 - this time I had a room to the front (room 20). While the noise level from the main street outside is actually acceptable (the windows seem to be noise abating), the condition of the room definitely was not. The bathroom could have used a bit more cleaning and the room itself was in a run-down state. The shower didn’t close properly (leaving a gap of nearly two cm), which ended up flooding a portion of the floor while showering.
It annoyed me so much, that I’ve taken the hotel from a 4* to a 3* rating.

Also, beware: the entire area around the hotel is a huge construction site. The Königsplatz is being torn apart, it is my understanding that the tram tracks will be put underground. When they work a section, they also do so at night, so you run the risk of having a major construction going on outside the hotel all night long.

------------ Update August 21, 2012 ----------------

Last night, I stayed at the Ost am Kö again, this time I had room 21 (right next to the one described in the update of March 20). Here, the window, while also triple-pane, certainly did not qualify for a noise-abating rating - and the Irish pub across the street (which, for a reason I can’t fathom, seems to have been open until 1AM), perhaps the frame was damaged and leaked sound. Also, the wall to room 20 was either quite thin or the guy next door had the TV blaring, for I could almost make out the program.
The worst, however, was the temperature - there is no A/C in these rooms (not sure if there is A/C anywhere in the hotel) and the room was blaringly hot.
Since I had to put my Fireplugs into my ears anyway, I opened up the window to let some air in; the desk fan just didn’t cut it. Taking the hotel down to two stars!
Not sure I’ll stay here again unless I can be guaranteed a room to the back.