I visited Berlin for the first time ever in early March 2013 to attend ITB, Europe’s largest travel exhibition. I had a little bit more time than I anticipated to explore the city and I must say: I was very impressed with what I saw. Which obviously means I need to go back with Mr. O and get to know the city better.
During my stay in the city, I tried 2 hotels – the last one being the Sofitel Berlin Gendarmenmarkt, centrally located in East Berlin. And I have good things to report indeed.
– Was there any pre-arrival communication by the hotel with myself via email or social media?
– Did I try to engage the hotel via Twitter? Did the hotel interact with me and made me feel welcome/special?
I did try a tweet or two, but the hotel’s twitter account is inactive.
– Has the hotel tried to gather any personal information (e.g. preferences) prior to my stay?
– The wow factor! What was the hotel decor style?
Very modern and sleek. The decor of the lobby areas was very nice. It isn’t a “huge” hotel, and quite compact, but whoever designed it, tried to maximise space.
– How quick and efficient was the hotel check-in?
Very good. There was no queue, which obviously helps and the ladies at reception were lovely.
– Was I addressed by name once reservation has been located? (it is all about the small details, some others are outstanding with this, and I love it, like I do when I board an airplane)
Everytime, Ms O’Reilly this, Ms. O’Reilly that – and with great smiles. Was quite impressed.
– Did I get an upgrade from my confirmed pre-booked room type?
No. I was confirmed a superior double and that is what I got.
– Did I feel genuinely welcomed by the hotel staff?
Overall, yes – I also noticed that most staff members were female, which is quite different than usual. I did see a gentleman at some point.
– Luggage – how many people did I have to tip before the luggage made it safely to my room? This is cultural, I know
I only had my carry-on luggage as was “able” to get to the room by myself.
– WiFi – was I told anything about it? Was there a charge?
WiFi is free for all guests, and I was given the respective codes at check-in.
– First impressions – décor, size and wow factor
The room wasn’t huge, quite compact indeed, but had everything I needed. Modern decor and a great view of Gendarmenmarkt square!
– Welcome amenity
The standard Sofitel bottle of Evian and some fruit. Nothing particularly special.
– The bed
I love Sofitel’s “My Bed” and slept really well. Actually difficult to get out of bed the next day. Love the pillows.
– Closet/Wardrobe – proper hangers or those annoying ones where you need a PhD to get them out one by one? This is a personal pet peeve of mine. I can’t stand them.
All as needed. Had lots of hangers, and of various types.
Sadly, no. But had Bose sound system/alarm clock. For a second I thought I was going to be able to charge my phone!
– Bathrobes and slippers
Yes, as standard.
– Coffee and Tea
No in-room facilities – I did have a look as I know many of you appreciate them. I honestly never use them.
– Free bottled water?
– Magazine selection – had some nice surprises and doesn’t happen often enough!
Nothing in particular.
– Power sockets in useful places – we have more and more devices and we know where we want them! By the bed, by the working area.
There were some plugs by the bed, which is good for phone etc. But needed a few more!
– First impressions – décor, size and wow factor
Really modern and actually very nice. I love “dark” bathrooms and this one combined black and white very well. The main door doubled as the toilet door (I can’t say loo or half the world won’t understand me!), which was tricky at times, but nothing to worry about.
– Bath, shower and taps – I am looking for Duravits and Hansgrohes (or other fab brands) around the world. How fab was the shower? And a little pet peeve.. was I able to operate the shower without asking Mr. O for help?
Yes yes yes, all fab. The shower room was really quite nice. And we were in the land of Duravit!
– Towels – yes, please! How many and how soft and lovely?
They were quite good, soft and fluffy. I had two sets which was great (as staying on my own).
– Toiletries – own brand, super brand, baby ones or proper ones?
I was expecting Hermés, but got baby Lanvin instead, which was a very nice surprise. Very good quality products. I love the whole “French brand thing” that the Sofitel has as a concept.
– Amenity kit – I don’t want more sewing kits thank you very much, but I will need a shower cap.
It was very cleverly disguised inside a box, which was actually a very good idea. Space saving and also made the whole experience more luxurious and discrete.
– Hairdryer – is it a human one, or just something stuck to a wall that only makes noise?
It was easy to find but I didn’t need to use it.
– Décor of breakfast room
Breakfast was served until 12pm (Saturday and Sunday), which I took full advantage of (obviously!). It was large room but a little bit soulless, in my opinion.
– The spread (inc yumminess)
Very nice – I love Sofitel’s range of juices (always more than the usual orange, apple and grapefruit). I had strawberry and mango (not together!). Always fab bread and viennoiserie and local delicacies (cured meats, cheese, etc).
There is no bar as such, but this is surely a reflection of the size of the property – I think this Sofitel could almost be classified like a boutique hotel. The hotel’s very cool restaurant, Aigner, has a bar, but it gets too busy as many people wait there for their tables. I enjoyed a Gin & Tonic, which was very nice, at €14.
– How good and reliable was the wi-fi?
To be honest, I ended up not using it as my mobile phone has a European data package and I didn’t need to. Please note that wi-fi is free in this Sofitel, which is great news.
Unbeatable, if you are or want to be in East Berlin. As you can see from the images, the hotel is bang on Gendarmenmarkt and just around the corner from Friedrichstraße, aka shopping heaven in this part of town. A visit to Galleries Lafayette is a must (which I confess I wasn’t expecting in Berlin, of all places!).
– Cost – rooms starting from…
Standard rooms cost from €130, which is very good value for money.
– Would I recommend it to my best friend?
Absolutely, it is a good 5 star hotel with all the amenities you need.
– Would I stay again?
Without a problem.
I enjoyed my stay at the Sofitel Berlin Gendarmenmarkt and have no problem recommending it. However, due to the layout of the hotel, one is not invited to spend a lot of time in it – I do like using the bar, doing some work in the lounge, i.e. get away from the room, and this isn’t possible as common areas aren’t huge. One thing that annoyed me? Having the housekeeping staff talk in the corridor first thing in the morning (from 8am), which did interrupt what I hoped it would be a nice Saturday lie-in – this still happens a lot in many hotels, and I know it may not be easy to manage, but it is a point I would like to make. On another hand, I noticed a lot of female staff (which is quite rare – I think I only saw 3 men, vs 10-12 women) and it felt very safe and female-friendly, something that matters to me when I am travelling alone for business, which was the case.
Have you visited this hotel? What were your thoughts?
Disclaimer: I was a guest of Sofitel during this stay, but hopefully you will see that this has not influenced my thoughts about the property. For more information about the hotel, visit its official website.