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Bleibtreu is locted only a couple blocks from the bustling Kurfürstendamm, but far removed from it sound-wise, as its hidden behind a peaceful air airy courtyard and floral shop. As a medium-sized hotel lacking any corporate feel, the service seems more personable and down to earth. The atmosphere is charming and intimate, and it seems appropriate that there's a reading room, adding to the hotel's turn-of-the-century feel. Through their 'Literaturraum' project, they invite international artists and writers to spend a few weeks at the hotel, in a writer's retreat of sorts.
The rooms lend themselves to longer stays, as they are cute and comfortable, and feel homey, as though you're staying at a bed and breakfast rather than central hotel. There's also a cute deli affixed to the hotel, but unfortunately it's closed for the time being.
Elegantly but simply decorated, the Ellington is one of those timeless hotels that feels like it could exist in any time period -- minus the anachronistic hi-speed wi-fi and modern conference rooms throughout the building. The service is friendly from the moment you walk through the door. There were several sunlit spots for eating and drinking, from the partially outside Sommergarten, the breakfast room, the wine shelf laced Restaurant Duke and, this being Germany, the special Smokers Lounge and Bar. Located in walking distance to the famous Ku'damm and a plethora of shops, I found the price for the grandiose comfort the Ellington offers, including spacious yet cozy rooms, to be very reasonable.
As homage to modern design with German-made funky furniture equipping the lobby and rooms, Ku'Damm 101 is a surprisingly affordable hotel at a central location. It's not by any particularly noteworthy sites (unless you count one of the largest shopping centers in Berlin, KaDeWe) but is closely linked to many public transit lines. The breakfast buffet there is a refreshingly light change from the classic hearty cheese and bread typical German offers: it offers fruit juices, miso soup and a couscous salad. Business travelers will be pleased that there's free and ubiquitous wifi throughout the hotels, and a number of meeting rooms. It's a fresh and funky hotel, and remains quiet inside despite the bustle of the main drag outside.
The Arcotel offers grandiose comfort, including giant rocking chairs in honor of its namesake. Situated within easy walking distance to the big Berlin attractions and reasonably priced, it's ideal for tourists as well as business travelers. For the latter, there is free, fast-paced w-fi in the rooms -- a rarity for even the fanciest of German hotels. Yet despite its central location, I found the inside of the hotel calm and quiet. The service, which greets you as you walk in, was friendly and helpful. As a plus, the hotel also offers special rooms for disabled travelers.
The Grand Hotel Esplanade, whose towering reflection is mirrored in the scenic spree, is ideal for both business and recreational travelers. I found the rooms to be large and comfortable, and for very reasonable prices. There's also many amenities such as a dimly-lit stylish bar, large gym, and restaurant which serves a daily breakfast. Despite the hotel's large size, which made walking inside feel like entering a shopping mall, the staff were welcoming and friendly.
The Berlin Mark Hotel was simple yet elegant, with classy (and classic) rooms and an airy, sun-lit restaurant. I found the service to be friendly and efficient, and was greeted the second I walked through the door. You can't go wrong with the location, which is just a few blocks away from Kurfuerstendamm, a bustling area filled with shops, museums, theaters and nearby the zoo. That's why I was surprised to learn that the prices at the Berlin Mark are quite low for its location and amenities, which also include free parking and internet. Business travels will also be happy to find a handful of meeting rooms equipped with projectors.
nhow Berlin is creative and funky without being tacky. Billed as a "music and lifestyle" hotel, it offers several unique amenities for musicians, such as guitar and keyboard room service and a silent recording studio overlooking the Spree. While there are a number of waterside Berlin hotels, nhow has a particularly ideal spot, within an easy walk to the colorful East Side Gallery and eclectic heart of Kreuzberg. While every individually artfully color doused room feels like a museum itself, there's also not surprisingly a fun gallery filled with paintings, sculptures and photography.
With light perpetually oozing in the windows, this charming cafe offers a variety of dishes for all times of the day. They take the German breakfast to a hearty extreme, serving their hard boiled eggs with an eclectic and tasty range of meats and cheeses. For vegans, the "egg salad" sandwich served on a baguette is heavenly. The coffee is strong yet smooth, and the fresh squeezed orange juice is so refreshing you'll be tempted to order another a few minutes later. The cafe was also one of the first in Berlin to accept bitcoin, so far the only way I've paid for my meals there.
The moment I walked into Hotel Artist Riverside, I was greeted by warm, smiling service. Situated on the Spree, the hotel interior is decorated with ornate, borderline-gaudy gold decor, a theme that stretches into the spacious rooms with water beds. There's also a soothing spa with massages and a variety of hot tubs, including one where guests are completely encased in a giant shell. For all the amenities and the central and scenic location, I didn't find the price so bad -- unless you're stuck in one of the rooms facing the noisy street. I also liked the adjacent Austrian-style restaurant that serves hearty portions. The hotel was a bit too fancy for me personally, but I'd recommend it for those looking to live it up in an extravagant atmosphere for a couple of days.
baxpax Kreuzberg is located in my favorite part of Berlin: a bustling area filled with funky and colorful cafes, bars, ethnic restaurants, and a famous market hall. A sign at the neighboring train station (Görlitzer Bahnhof) directs guests to the entrance, which is hard to spot from the street otherwise. Yet despite its central location, the hostel is in a courtyard, hidden from street noises. Still, known to be the "party hostel" the space itself can get pretty crowded with chatter -- which is good and bad depending on what experience you're looking for. Weekends are humming with live music from the many guitarists and signers that stay and play there. Boasting of its "sleepless nights", the hostel also doesn't have a curfew or lock-outs.
Die Fabrik (which receives its German name from being housed in a former factory) is a charming and cozy place to stay. I spent one night in this spacious hostel, and was struck by how quiet it is, despite being near the heart of ever-happening Kreuzberg. The staff were friendly and didn't flinch at me checking in at after 10 pm, or checking out after the official 11 a.m. check out. The beds were incredibly comfortable by hostel-bed standards, even if the pillow was a bit lumpy. The large seven-bed room, which overlooked a courtyard, stayed warm in the winter night, but not sauna-esque. The rooms also are equipped with large lockers to store belongings at no extra cost. The wi-fi is free throughout the hotel but sometimes spotty.
Breakfast is not included, but there's a cute cafe next door which serves several hearty dishes, from the typical German bread and cheese breakfast to scrambles of all sorts. It also serves traditional German food like spaetzle for lunch and dinner at reasonable prices. I'd definitely recommend this place to budget travelers who want to stay at an unique and central location, but also relax and sleep with peace and quiet.
The Schlosshotel presents a different side of Berlin than I'm used to, being situated in a neighborhood lined with regal manors and leafy green streets so quiet that the only noise is the chirping of birds. Walking inside didn't feel like visiting a hotel, but rather stepping back in time into a palace with ornate chandeliers, elegant red carpets and cushy oversized furniture. Even with anachronistic pop music lightly playing, I felt like a character in a Charles' Dickens novel, minus the miserly characters. The service was warm and friendly, as I was greeted the instant I walked through the door. The restaurant, bar and cigar lounge also captured an old-school charm. It's a bit of a trek to get to the more touristy parts of Berlin from the hotel, but worth staying at for those looking for a quieter area connected to nature and, luckily, still good public transit.
Originally from San Francisco, I felt like I was back in the famous Castro district when I stepped into this funky hotel, adorned with rainbow flags and photographs of shirtless muscular men. Catering, not surprisingly, to the gay crowd, the built-in restaurant I ate in was friendly and welcoming to all guests. (Their website proclaims the hotel to be 'heterofriendly'). The restaurant had every imaginable array of burger, served below bright web walls and pop art. In addition to being in close vicinity to nightlife, it's a nightlife destination itself, with a swanky skyline bar that hosts parties. It's appropriate, then, that the check-out time isn't until 2 pm. It's also a spacious and comfortable place to snag some zzzs.
The centrally located Casa Camper is an uniquely Berlin hotel, and it showed right away when I walked in and saw a row of bikes available for guests. The colorful aesthetic is as flavorful as the Spanish cuisine in the attached restaurant, which is open 24/7. The top of the hotel also boasts a patio with sweeping views of Berlin. The price may be a little steep (basic rooms around 130 euros a night) but at least (unlike many German hotels) that includes free and ubiquitous wifi, and most uniquely free drinks and snacks throughout the day.
Berlin has many unique hotels full of a distinct character. In my mind, the Radisson Blu is not one of them, but it does offer very comfortable rooms, a central location and friendly and efficient service. It's within walking distance to all of Berlin's biggest attractions, such as Museum Island, the DDR Museum, and the Bundestag. It's ideal for family travelers in town for just a few days. I also enjoyed resting my feet by the giant aquarium.