Leonardo Royal Hotel Berlin Alexanderplatz ****

Stay: Feb. 2020

At first, I was disconcerted to stay at another Leonardo hotel after my experience last year in Hamburg. However, this one is several classes better than the other - maybe that is why they slap the label „Royal“ on the name.

I‘m always infuriated by the naming of hotels after well-known landmarks, even if those are nowhere close. This is such a case - while you can seen the TV tower from the street (and likely from some of the rooms), the „Alex“ is a good 15 minutes walk away.

The hotel interior is actually quite nice, very modern but not annoyingly so. The personnel at the desk are friendly and there are three elevators serving 6 floors, though why only two of these are on the same call button is beyond me.

My room (653) was in the rear part of the hotel, in the section that is at right angles to the main part. This means taking a pretty long hallway that was built on the top of the 5th floor at some point. This ends in short stairs to the perpendicular hallway, which makes it impossible for anyone in a wheelchair (and tough on those with issues walking stairs).

The room was relatively large and the bathroom quite nice, except for the spot of mold on both back sides of the shower doors. I took part in a conference that was in the same hotel, and the facilities there are quite good. Both breakfast and the lunch provided to the conference participants was excellent, with lots of different foods to choose from.

There are tram stations not far from the hotel, so you‘re good for public transport.

All in all a good experience and a hotel I can recommend.

Motel One Potsdamer Platz, Berlin ***

Stayed: August 2017

One always happy to try something new, I opted to stay at the Motel One at Potsdamer Platz during my last Berlin visit.

This Motel One is a bit different from others I've stayed at, as only the reception area and the elevators are at the ground floor - the rest of the hotel starts on the 3rd floor. The entire reception's back wall is one huge "movie screen" made up of a matrix of multi-color LEDs. I've seen this type of "screen" at other MotelOne hotels - usually behind the bar - but never anything this huge. It really is quite impressive.

The Hotel is part of the Berlin Mall, a huge US-style shopping mall and my room was to the side of the hotel, looking over one of the main passageways in the mall. There is a large structure almost like a hallway separating the hotel rooms along this passageway and separated from it by fixed windows. You can open your window to this hallway, but it doesn't do you much good because I didn't get the feeling that there is fresh air circulating through it. There were even some painter's gear (ladder, pails, etc.) leaning against the hotel wall within this space.

Both the bar and the breakfast restaurant are also on the 3rd level. I'd kept breakfast optional when checking in and that was a good thing, as I had a look at around 8:00 AM and the place seemed solidly packed. I hadn't visited the bar the night before, so I can't comment on that.

The entire area around Potsdamer Platz was - though this likely depends on the time of year, completely overrun by tourists. You get used to tourists in Berlin, but this was rediculous. Having the mall right there probably doesn't help. Also, if you're looking for bars and restaurants that aren't tourist traps, you need to walk quite a ways out of the area.

While the room and the bathroom were typical MotelOne standard (which is just fine for me), I likely won't stay here again just to avoid the masses of people.
Subsequenly, I'm giving three stars not because the hotel isn't ok but because the area is pretty annoying (unless you're a shopaholic).

Room Tip: The rooms to the mall are - after closing hours - very quiet.


MotelOne Am Tierpark, Berlin ***

Stayed: March, 2017

Okay, there isn't usually much to report on differently with a MotelOne - they are all very similar and I've never had a problem with a room before in one.

Here, mostly consistent with my previous experiences with this chain, however there were some ups and downs.

The hotel is located on a very busy 4-lane street that is frequented 24/7. While I know from my frequent stays at the MotelOne Waidmarkt in Cologne (in 2013), sometimes with a room overlooking the Blaubach street that the soundproofing of their windows is nearly perfect, I still prefer a room away from the street if at all possible.

They offered me a room on the ground floor that faced the back of the hotel (E-19). The location was fine - it was located in a shortish run of hallway that was separated from the reception area by a glass door.

Slightly annoying were the two gigantic and artistically pleasing lamps that sat on the grass, as they stayed on all night (why??), causing a bright streak of light to shine over the ceiling. Also odd was that the AC only ran while actually heating, so no fresh air otherwise. Lastly, the air evacuation from the bathroom didn't work.

On the flip side, the personnel in the bar were very attentive and friendly - definite thumbs up for these two guys. The choice of "pub grub" was quite restricted - more so than I remember from MotelOne hotels, but it was ok.

Another caveat is the poor connectivity to public transit. With other MotelOne hotels in Berlin, you're either right on or very near a U or S-Bahn station. Not here - you have a good walk of about 500m to the next station. With luggage a real chore.

All in all, ok to stay in, though I have other MotelOne hotels in Berlin I prefer.

Enoteca L'Angolino, Berlin****

Knesebeckstr. 92, Berlin

Great little Enoteca, very good selection of offered foods, comfortable seating and small enough to be cozy.
Great value on lunch offers.

Sausalitos, Berlin **

When you’re used to the Tex-Mex quality of a Chi-Chi’s, a visit to Sausalitos will leave you hanging a bit. Since it was „happy hour“, we ordered a Mai Tai and a Mojito and were very surprised to have these delivered with a stick in them on top of which were a marshmellow and some sort of gummy fruit piece. 
When we asked the waiter what that was all about, he said that they used to make them the regular way, with a lime for the Mojito and a pineapple for the Mai Tai, but management had decided to „standardize“ the garnish to save cost. Wow! Considering the regular cost for the drink is 14€, I’m not sure if this is the right way to go.

I’d ordered a Cesar’s Salad with Chicken. What came was no Cesar’s salad. It was a bowl filled with coarsely cut iceberg lettuce absolutely drenched in some white dressing with two pieces of soggy bread that was supposed to be garlic bread (but just tasted like toasted white bread). The salad was garnished with five pieces of chicken, no larger than about two by one inches. To finalize my disgust, there were a few pieces of salad stalk mixed in that the prep cook hadn’t bothered to get out.
My colleague indicated that his ordered dish (taco chips with meat and cheese) didn't make the grade, either.

Add to that the loud main street right next to your table (if you sit outside) and you’ll have a dinner you won’t forget.

Food and drink are very expensive, which would be just OK if the quality was excellent. This restaurant is absolutely not to be recommended!

Hotel Savoy, Berlin**

The location of the hotel is excellent, as you’re not far from the Kurfürstendamm as well as lots of restaurants and bars you can walk to within a short distance. The Berlin Zoo trainstation is close enough to walk, even with light baggage.

Fasanenstrasse is currently blocked off at the northern end due to a major construction site, so the street is relatively quiet. My room was to the rear of the hotel - usually a good thing as far as noise goes, however the hotel sports a rather large restaurant that has seating in the rear, so you’ll get lots of noise when the outside seating is open, until about 11PM. 

You can tell that the hotel used to be quite posh (and probably quite a bit more expensive), but despite some renovation, the run-down feeling doesn’t leave the place. For example, in the bathroom has new tiles and sink area, but it looks like they used the old sink as this is stained and cracked. Behind the shower curtain there is a tiny tub and a shower that has the most finicky tap I’ve used (move it just a hair and it goes from yucky cold to scalding hot) and a window that is quite obviously an „original“ - there are two windows, both single-paned, right after one another (a construction used in the early 20th century), one of which is intransparent. This window leads to a sort of inner vent that goes along the entire hight of the building and is open to the top. If you open the top of the window, you’ll hear all sorts of noised from all the other bathrooms that also open up to this „vent“.

The room window is of the same construction, albeit see-through and wider. I’m going to guess that in the winter, you can probably get pretty ice flowers on the inside, as the insulating value of dual single-pane glass windows is pretty low.

The bed was quite comfortable and there was enough closet space. There were no power outlets to be found along the entire desk, even power cables of the TV (to the left of the desk) and desk lamp go to a hidden area below, where there is some sort of outlet. That tends to be really annoying if you’re trying to work on a laptop that doesn’t have enough battery power left. 

I didn’t bother with breakfast on either of the days I stayed. At 20€ per person, this just seemed completely unreasonable to me.

The free wifi is completely unusable - very slow and with lots of connection issues.

All in all, it is a hotel you can stay at, but it has a lower comfort level than some of the other, more modern hotels in the area (that you can get for about the same price).

Hotel Otto, Berlin ***

The hotel is located in a part of Charlottenburg that is chock full of restaurants, bars and small stores, so you’ll always find someplace close for lunch or dinner. Also, you’re in walking distance of Bahnhof Zoo. If you’re not keen on walking there, you have just a few minutes to the next bus station.

The hotel itself is a nice albeit older hotel. The rooms were apparently renovated in 2008 (believable) and are nice enough. The only criticism I have about the room are the windows, which probably predate my birth by 10 years. They are ancient, badly closing and offer very little noise abatement (I was on the 5th floor towards the street - it was relatively loud). They probably transmit heat better than titanium due to their dual single-pane construction. Expect these to „radiate“ cold into the room during the winter.

Also, if you’re unable to drag luggage up or down stairs you need to know that the elevator stops at half-levels, i.e. there is a stop between the 4th and 5th floor and between the 5th and 6th, so you’ll always be walking half a staircase to get to your floor. On the other hand, it pipes birdsong (instead of Muzak) and has a „surprise“ button. Obviously, I’m not going to reveal the surprise here - you’ll just have to try it out.

I don’t recall A/C in the room, though to be fair at this time of the year I wasn’t looking for it.

Breakfast is on the top floor and offers about 1/5 outdoor seating, so if you’re lucky to get a table and the weather is good, you’ll have a nice view of Berlin roofs while eating. Breakfast is excellent, with superior service. It costs 15€ - normally I wouldn’t spend that amount on breakfast, but here it really is worth it.

All in all a hotel I would recommend (with the two caveats I mentioned) and will be staying in again.

Hotel Indigo Ku'damm, Berlin ***

Stayed: September, 2014

Here, Nomen non est Omen, clearly. The hotel isn’t on the Kurfürstendamm (“Ku’damm”) in Berlin - it isn’t even in a sidestreet. It is on Hardenbergstrasse 15, which is northwest of the “Zoo” train station, and a good 800m from the Ku’damm on foot.

I was excited at first; the
Indigo brand is part of the InterContinental Hotel Group, so that, combined with the price, left me with high expectations - after all, I was to “live” here for a workweek. Unfortunately, my expectations weren’t met - perhaps they were set too high, once again.

For one thing: for a hotel at this nightly rate in Berlin (where I’ve stayed in hotels costing €27 a night
including breakfast and lived to talk about it!), you get a pretty small room! The room (503) was decorated along “modern lines”, but that doesn’t necessarily help much.

For one thing, the desk (it’s actually a board held up by two trestles) sports not a single power outlet anywhere near it. Damn the architect! In fact, the bathroom boasts a plethora of outlets - some in bizarre locations (above the toilet... what am I going to plug in here?) while the rest of the room has them hidden in areas that makes you think the designer found them to be dirty, disgusting holes in the wall.

In order to “submerge” the TV (from under which protrude two plastic tabs that probably serve to hold it to the wall - very pretty), a huge, framed panel section was screwed against the entire width of the wall at the foot end of the bed, wasting a good 18cm of badly needed room. Turn 90° and you will inadvertently slam your foot into the base of the chair, which sticks out so far that it leaves barely 10cm space to the bed.

The chair fits the “everything is a designer piece” image and, while it is actually quite comfortable, it can’t be pushed under the “desk” to make more room due to its height. I ended up swapping it with a low, backless “sitting box” that had been placed just after the door.

There is A/C, but even at the lowest fan setting, I felt an uncomfortable breeze across my face as I lay in bed (that’s asking for an earache in the morning), so I ended up turning it off. You can only tip the windows open; i.e. they are locked at the bottom and can’t be opened completely. Even tipped open, you get the full blast of noise from the largish construction site that is situated right in front of the hotel. The acoustics are such that even on the 5th floor, it sounds like they are working right outside your window, but at least it gives you some fresh air in the room.

Following the trend, your bed is completely covered in pillows of various kinds (my room had a queen-sized bed and sported no less than 8 pillows!), as well as something I call the “suitcase cover”. There is no other place than the bed to lay down your suitcase as you pack or unpack it - and to keep the sheets from getting dirty, I put it on this blanket. Apparently, though, it serves as some sort of decoration, as room service ardently puts it back on the bed when they make it up.
Ah yes, that brings me back to available space: there isn’t any place other than the floor for all those pillows and the “suitcase cover” when you’re ready to go to sleep. Personally, that irks me, because I’m going to presume the floor to be dirtier than the bed, but who knows.

Available space is also an issue when you try to hang up / shelve your clothes. If you’re only here for one night, it isn’t going to be an issue, but if you’re here for a week like I was, it is: there aren’t enough hangers in the tiny closet (I asked for more, it took three tries) and one of the two drawers is completely filled with a blanket. Also, they give you four hangers for pants, but you’ll not be able to squeeze more than three into the narrow “deep end” of the closet. The rest is so small that you’ll have issues with longer shirts hitting bottom.

The bathroom is the next painful experience from an ergonomic standpoint. It closes with a sliding door (there would be no room to have a regular one!), but because it has under-cabinet LED lighting that you can’t turn off, you’ll be annoyed by wide swaths of light at night. Said LED lighting is necessary, because the light switch is
inside on the far wall of the bathroom (wanna bet it was the same designer that also put a power outlet above the toilet?).
The shower is weird - I’ve never seen one like it, and I’ve been to a lot of different hotels in my time: the shimmering tiles on the back wall are, surely, a matter of taste (yuck!) but the “floor” of the shower is special: half of it is at a felt 30° angle down to the drain, the other half is completely flat. Water won’t flow away from it - every time I showered, I was afraid I would douse the bathroom. It really is a lot of water up there; I ended up trying to get most of it down the “ramp” with my feet...

There are two elevators, one you face when you walk in from the main entrance, and one “tucked” in to the left of it, which is considerably smaller. As soon as you hit your floor button, you are innundated with “feel good” instrumental music, which is a tick too loud and annoying. When you reach your floor, a squeaky female voice asks you the floor number (the tonality makes the “statement” into a question), which continually serves to amuse me. Less amusing, perhaps, is the loud *crack* you hear between the ground and first floor every time you take the “little” elevator up.

Breakfast is actually quite okay, with most things you’ll be looking for, albeit the medium-sized restaurant gets really crowded during peak times.

All in all, I can’t shake the feeling that IHG is trying to position the Indigo brand against Radisson’s BLU. This is an utter fail, however; don’t even try to make the comparison.

I would stay here again if I couldn’t find another hotel.


Motel One Hauptbahnhof, Berlin ****

So far, I’ve found Motel One hotels to be quite similar in many ways all over the country. Its a fair deal, I sleep well there.

As with other Motel One’s I’ve visited, the room is very clean both visually and olfactoraly. The room isn’t large, but big enough for one person to stay a night or two. The fireplace-video that pops on the TV when you enter the room is a nice twist (the one in Hamburg had an aquarium video).

I’ve stayed at this particular Motel One before, and while I didn’t sign up for the breakfast this time, I did the last time I stayed. Breakfast was completely overrun, like a beehive, at primetime (when, unfortunately, I needed to be down there as well). A number of tables were empty but not cleared away and some of the food items were “sold out” and not replenished.

I’m not sure if that was because of some major event in town or if that is normal for this particular Motel One, but it made it easy for me to make the decision to eat somewhere else this time.

Other than that, the room is fine, as is the bathroom, no complaints. One exception: there isn’t an outlet anywhere near the desk, so if you have an aging laptop battery like I do with the need to plug in, you’ll be doing your work from the bed (which has outlets next to it).

All in all, I would recommend the place and will stay there again - you can’t beat the location, just kitty-corner across from the central train station. Maybe I’ll try breakfast again next time...

Hotel Tiergarten, Berlin **

The hotel is on Alt Moabit and only about 100m away from the bus stop “Kleiner Tiergarten” where the TXL bus (Airport Tegel to Alexanderplatz via Central Train Station) also stops - very convenient.

I had room 47, which is to the rear and at the very end of the corridor (and on the 2nd, not the 4th floor), so I was expecting a pretty quiet stay. Unfortunately, there is a relatively large gap around the door, so noise from the hallway comes in undamped, and the walls seem to be thinner than I would expect, so noise from next door was also quite prominent.

The room, which isn’t huge but big enough, has old-style double windows (not double-pane) which makes for nasty cold drafts due to the horrible insulation. I ended up sleeping “the wrong way” in the single bed to avoid getting the chills over night, with cold air literally pouring over my face (despite drawn curtains). The heating was on but not very hot, which made my room colder than even I like (and I prefer a cool room in the winter). The extremely high ceiling (estimate: 4.5m!) doesn’t help in keeping the heat where the people are.

To top it off, the water temperature in the shower varied widely, causing me to stop every 10 seconds or so to readjust. That is, after taking a felt 5 minutes just to get the hot water up to the second floor. I ended up stopping my shower short.

Breakfast is quite spectacular, especially for such a small hotel, with every kind of meat and a good selection of cheeses available, as well as different types of yoghurt, etc., rolls, bread, cake. Also, varied fruit including Mango and Rasberry. Excellent and completely unexpected. It certainly compensated some of the negative aspects of the room.

All in all, the location is a bit off the beaten path and considering the quality of the room, I felt the room rate to be too high.

Hotel Park Inn, Berlin **

Since I was just in Berlin again, staying in two different places, I wanted to make sure I put a review of the Park Inn at Alexanderplatz in here.

I stayed at the place twice, and each time my colleague and I had some very interesting experiences. To be quite clear up front: unless it is exceptionally cheap, I will not book a room in this hotel again. Read on.

Via a friend of my colleague, we were able to get rooms at the Park Inn for €75 including breakfast, which is really quite attractive from a pricing aspect.

I will say this: the rooms are really quite nice, breakfast is fantastic. But that is where it stops.

For one thing, you will rarely see the reception desk without a huge line waiting before it. Why is beyond me, there are usually plenty of people at the desk (which is quite large, obviously, to accommodate everyone). Don’t plan on getting checked out and out the door with bill in hand within the time you expect from a „normal” hotel. Very annoying.

The first room I had at the hotel was somewhere on the 23rd floor. Again, nicely renovated, spacious, nice bathroom, large bed, clean. Normally: a joy. Except for that high-pitched noise that kept coming on and going off, coming on and going off. At first I thought something in the room was making it, like the minibar refrigerator or the smoke detector. Not so - I followed the sound out the door into the hallway. Just so you understand: this was a sound that will not let any normal person sleep or even work in a concentrated way.

It turned out to be the motor driving one of the elevators. My guess is that its mounting isolated so poorly, that the high-frequency vibrations, probably from its modulation, went across a cement beam running over my room. Whatever, I asked to change the room.

Apparently, my request to change the room was so bizarre to the girl at reception that while she complied with my request, she apparently felt it was necessary to talk to her colleague about it right in front of me. Folks, if a guest wishes to change his room, then he has a reason for it - if you think it’s worth joking about to your colleagues, do so without the guest hearing - just a thought.

The next time we stayed there, we not only received different restaurant cards for breakfast (even though we’d booked at the same time), but apparently, there was a technical issue with the elevators in the section where my colleague had his room. Only one of the elevators ran, causing us to be about half an hour late for our appointment. He actually phoned me, to ask that I tell reception about it, but the guy at reception said that the elevators certainly were running („you stupid guest”). They weren’t though. While waiting for my colleague to finally arrive, I watched a bank of three elevators in that section of the hotel (not all the elevators go to all the floors). All three didn’t budge in the 15 minutes I stood there.

If you’re in Berlin, try to find a hotel that is smaller than the Park Inn. There are much better places to stay, also from a location perspective, for similar or lower pricing.