In part because I planned my trip to Berlin so close to departure, I had difficulty booking a single hotel for all four nights in the city. Paid nights were still available though expensive. Award nights were limited. I booked different properties with a mix of cash and points to not only reduce the overall cost but also because it’s a lot easier to provide direct comparisons when staying at hotels one after another. You’ll get three reviews, hopefully each more useful than had I made three separate visits.
I would recommend all three hotels but for different reasons, so think about your preferences as you read about them.
- Review: Hilton Berlin
- Review: Grand Hyatt Berlin
- Review: Westin Berlin
My first stay was two nights at the Hilton Berlin booked for 50,000 points per night (paid rates were about $200 plus tax). I arrived a little jet lagged at Berlin’s Tegel Airport, connecting from my Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt, and took a taxi. A car was pretty much my only option as this hotel had the least convenient transit options to the city’s main transit hubs despite the Stadtmitte U-Bahn station right out front. By contrast, the Grand Hyatt is a block from the Potsdamer Platz bahnhof (train station), and the Westin is three blocks from the Friedrichstrasse station (itself one stop on the S-Bahn from the Hauptbahnhof (main train station).
Once at the hotel, however, you’re located directly across from the Gendarmenmarkt and just a few blocks of walking or a few stops from the Stadtmitte U-Bahn station to several attractions within Berlin. Traveling long enough, the U-Bahn even took me directly to the ITB fairgrounds.
It was already late afternoon so I had no trouble checking in. The agent quickly recognized my HHonors Diamond status and provided me with information about the internet access and the complimentary club lounge on the main floor.
My room was a standard king with a view of the adjacent office building. This is a huge hotel that covers a city block and has two central courtyards. Perhaps an upgrade would have been available on another trip, but I already mentioned that most of the city was busy with the local trade show. A welcome letter from the manager was specifically addressed to ITB attendees even though I hadn’t mentioned anything of the sort when making my reservation.
I found the room to be well maintained and nicely decorated, though it was a pretty straightforward design intended for business travelers. A large desk in one corner provided plenty of working space. There was a selection of free snacks and beverages that were replaced daily (probably owing to my status), and a well-stocked minibar.
The only thing about my room I didn’t like was the bathroom. The showerhead never seemed high enough (I’m about six feet tall), and the fluorescent lights on either side of the mirror cast a harsh light. Overall the black-and-white look did not match my aesthetic taste. But these complaints are more personal than objective. Everything functioned well, and it was very clean.
Diamond members have the option of eating breakfast at the lounge or going to the main restaurant on the mezzanine. The lounge was easily enough to satisfy my hunger with some eggs, bacon, and croissants each morning. While the buffet upstairs may have been larger, the lounge was more convenient.
The lounge has several different seating areas for noisy socializing or quiet work. There’s also a small workstation and a conference room available to use by the entrance, where there were always two employees waiting to greet guests. It was one of the larger and more nicely decorated lounges I’ve visited inside a Hilton hotel, though not quite up to the standards of a Conrad.
In the main lobby there is a large bar, more mixed seating, and live music every evening. I had a good whiskey sour along with some complimentary snacks, which were served promptly. Drink selections inside the lounge appeared limited to beer and wine, although there was a much larger array of hot and cold food — almost enough to replace dinner (though not nearly as good as a plate of German sausage or schnitzel).
The hotel also has a pool, fitness center, and spa that it appears to share with private members. I didn’t have time to visit during my stay.
Though I enjoyed the Hilton Berlin, I did mention that this is only the first of three reviews during my trip to the city. I’ll review the Westin next — even though it was the last hotel I visited — and finish with the Grand Hyatt. Any of the three properties would be a good choice.
In the next review you’ll learn that I thought the Westin has a more central location for tourists, which appeared to be reflected in its clientele. The Hilton was the more affordable option and seemed more popular with business travelers. The differences were minor, and the two are just blocks apart, so the choice may come down to your personal needs and brand preferences.