Where: Berlin, Germany
Long story short: A triumph of online marketing.
Short story long: I fancied a luxurious weekend by myself in one of the coolest cities on earth. Where else but to head, then, but a hotel “located in the pulsating heart of Berlin’s Mitte” and “a favourite of Berlin’s creative scene”. I want that, I thought. I am cool. I have a beret. The website showed whites so bright my Sazeroni was getting too warm and I had to turn the screen down. I couldn’t wait.
A few weeks later, after missing my stop and taking a not altogether
unpleasant walk through the museum district, I rocked up at the hotel.
Took me a while to find, I’ll be frank. There I was looking for this grand, imposing, white edifice and, silly me, what I should have been looking for was a slightly shabby building that wasn’t quite sure whether it was open or not. After peering through a couple of windows I found a door that looked as unlike its online picture as half of my Facebook friends’ and went inside.
Enter the lobby, however, and all becomes clear. If you couldn’t see it was a hotel you could smell it. Or hear it. The overwhelmingly 90s style pink and black stylings are sound and smell-tracked with an overpowering scent (think Red Bull mixed with celebrity-range perfume) and loud nightclub-style music. Not quite the luxurious entrance I had in mind. In fact the hotel has taken a few liberties with the word “lux”.
The floor in the lobby is a bit grimy, with the wooden desk edges unfinished and behind the reception desk a large photograph displays a glassy-eyed couple whose heydey was at least a good decade ago. However, service was friendly and pleasant, when I eventually got seen (a bit of a wait but not endless) and each time I returned I was met with smiles, if slightly confusing information about the wifi each time.
While the hotel’s lobby and stairs might leave a lot to be desired, the rooms are better. The premier rooms have two balconies, a large and comfortable double bed, a lounge area and kitchenette. One balcony overlooks the busy(ish) street with cafes and boutiques and the other some high-rise residential flats, not pretty but not awful.
My roomwas clean and smelt of the overpowering scent (which I later learned is part of the hotel’s “offer”) (I could have purchased one of the
enormous stinky shampoo or shower gels. I didn’t). Despite the room’s
overall cleanliness, I did notice a small Tupperware pot with a pube in it. Naturally I took a picture of it, Tweeted it and ignored it, certain it would be removed during cleaning the following day. It wasn’t. They clearly believed it to be mine. (It was not; mine are longer and curlier).
There were two DVD players, both of which worked but were fairly outdated. The rain shower was great, complete with spotlight, but I would have loved a luxurious bath in a room that size (I tried to make the plug stay in but it either wouldn’t or couldn’t).
Gripes aside, Lux 11 is in a really good location on the edge of Mitte (the main bit of Berlin). It’s very close to the Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz U-Bahn, which makes it easy to get pretty much anywhere. It’s also a pleasant walk to the museum district and a hop, skip and a jump from Alexanderplatz. In fact, it’s in an ideal spot. The minibar was well-stocked and not ludicrously priced. A bottle of wine was available on arrival. The kitchenette had plenty of cutlery and crockery and there was a coffee maker and kettle.
Available to purchase are a Hangover Kit (with essential oil and vitamin fixes) and a Love Box, an intimacy kit containing massage oils and sex toys. The
latter could be a quirky European touch in the right place but in this seedy, and slightly grubby, location it was just a wee bit stomach-turning. Also, I Didn’t See A Single Soul the whole time I was there, apart from a slightly cross-looking couple when I was checking in.
There is so much room for improvement here. A lick of paint, bringing the lobby away from nineties neon pink club culture would be a start. Turning the incessant loud music down which blares at you on entry would be another. Berlin is so full of amazing hotels with great design sensibilities that it really needs to up its game if it’s going to compete in any way.
However, the really, really weird thing is that, try as I might, on my return from Berlin I couldn’t find a single photograph or review online which truly reflected my experience. If the effort that’s gone into reputation management could only be spent on paint, then this hotel would be a winner.
Champagne tastes: The 73 rooms and suites range in size from 30 to 160
m2 in six categories. The top floor boasts a vast penthouse suite with
two bedrooms and a view of the TV Tower. That’ll set you back €795 per
Shandy Pockets: The rooms have kitchenettes so if you want to nip to
Aldi and stock up on cheap soup then you can live like a pauper in
Fly from Manchester to Berlin with Easyjet (www.easyjet.com) from £43.
Review by Hazel Davis.
The Great Northern Hotel : Right tracks