I am a hotel whore.
No, not that kind of hotel whore. But in my years on the road, I’ve noticed that there are two types of travelers. Some people don’t care where they lay their heads, preferring to spend all of their time and money on activities, food and souvenirs. And others want to bed down with a little more luxury, even if they’re afraid to voice it to their more austere companions.
I’m in the latter camp. I want my hotel to be a sanctuary, a place where I can return and rest comfortably after a hard day of sightseeing. I want to walk in and be dazzled by the extras that remind me that I’m far from my more modest home. I want fluffy towels, high-end bath products, the latest in electronic wizardry. I want chocolate on the pillowcase, damn it.
I don’t always get my way. My husband is a stickler for getting the best deal, which is why I comb Priceline, Hotwire, Skyauction and other websites to get value for our money. I can still have my so-called luxe life. I just need to pay half price, with a maximum of $250 a night. I know many of you have similar limits.
On my recent Germany trip, I had a chance to sample a few hotels that met the standard. The good thing about Berlin is that it’s relatively cheap compared to other major European cities, so you get more for your Euro than you would in, say, Paris, London or Rome.
(These hotels did comp me for my stay. But judging by the prices that I’m finding for them on various websites, they are still good deals and fit my $250 limit).
Sofitel Berlin Gendarmenmarkt – We absolutely loved the location of this hotel, run by the French company Accor. Right across from the Gendarmenmarkt, with its elegant German and French Doms, the hotel far enough from the noisy Unten der Linden boulevard, but still within walking distance of many Mitte sights. Ask for a room on the Charlottestrasse and you’ll get a view like the one above.
We liked the main bathroom’s double sinks, Hermes bath products and the adorable rubber ducky waiting for us in the shower. I also appreciated the sauna on the top floor, as I needed to sweat out my wicked cold. Rooms with a single queen bed are going for $161 on Expedia.com, or you can pay $232 for a junior suite like the one we enjoyed (and believe me, I would).
Hotel Concorde Berlin: We weren’t as fond of the Ku’damm – the former center of West Berlin – as we were of the charming Mitte, in the former East Berlin. But I loved the lobby, with its minimalist lines and contemporary art, designed by renowned Berlin architect Jan Kleihues with a first-class lobby bar (a hotel without a lobby bar is…somewhere I don’t want to stay).
And I give props to the Concorde for coming up with a feature that I didn’t think I needed: Built-in speakers automatically piped sound from the TV in the bedroom into the bathroom’s separate toilet. Now I wish I had that in my home. The hotel’s rooms are known for being immense by European standards. I only know that our suite was bigger than the studio I was renting in Seattle. Hotels.com has regular rooms for $191 (while we loved the suite, the $310 price tag would receive a veto from my husband).
Adina Apartment Hotel Checkpoint Charlie – Our final resting spot was more along the lines of the places that I seek out on my own. The Berlin Tourism Office sent me to Adina, a chain of boutique “apartment hotels” as an example of affordable chic lodgings that have sprung up all over the city. While definitely not as luxe as the previous hotels (no Hermes bath products, sniff sniff), our room at the Adina here qualified as a full suite, with a full kitchen, a stackable washer/dryer unit in the bathroom and a massive separate bedroom. We often travel with friends, and we could have easily put up another couple on the pullout sofa (this would also be a great place for a family with children that needs more space). We loved the clean urban style of the furnishings, as well as the price: around $157 per night (as with all these hotels, prices vary depending on date).
We ended up spending more time in our room at Adina, mostly because the weather had turned rainy and my cold was in full force. But we loved the location, within walking distance of Checkpoint Charlie and the Mitte without veering into tourist-land. Adina has an attached restaurant/bar with reasonably priced food, although the wiener schnitzel I ordered was a tad soggy in the middle.
Do luxe hotel extras matter to you? How much are you willing to pay?