When: April 2016
Where: Berlin, Germany
Length of stay: 3 nights
Room booked: King Junior Suite
Price per night: 230€
Travel companions: Fiancée, my parents, my big brother, his wife and their 0,5 year-old daughter
Status / collaboration: HHonors Gold / no collaboration
I visited Berlin for the first time in April 2016, when we arranged a surprise trip for my father in honor of his retirement. Because I wanted to take the reigns regarding the actual arrangements, it’s no surprise that I chose a hotel that seemed like one of the best ones in Berlin. Actually I realized that Berlin is full of great hotels with relatively low prices, but as it usually is with these things, I got more and more excited browsing the hotels, so the final price wasn’t the cheapest possible.
The silhuette of the hotel can be seen far away, when arriving, because it’s one of the tallest buildings in the area. The impressive towerlike structure of the Waldorf Astoria Berlin soars all the way to the 31st floor right next to a zoo. Once we arrived at the front of the hotel with our driver I immediately saw an army of tophatted employees circle the car. All of our bags had been taken out of the car and out of sight before our entourage had even gotten out ourselves.
I have visited nice hotels before, but I realized this was luxury I hadn’t experienced before. I was pretty sure I had made the right choice on the hotel. At this moment a slight thought occured in my mind that maybe I might be a little underdressed, but somehow the peaceful ambience of the hotel’s main lobby evaporated that thought. The hall was stylishly subdued, but also luxurious at the same time with comfy sofas and a wall full of fresh flowers.
Unfortunately our rooms weren’t ready yet (it was 10am), so we left our luggage there and headed out. I was informed that because of my HHonors Gold membership two of our three rooms would be upgraded to the next room category. This is a nice bonus for Gold members, but the only slight problem I had with this was the fact that they ”only” upgraded us to a Junior Suite with View –room.
The thing is that it was literally exactly the same room than what we had booked, but it only offered a better view, because it was higher up in the building. The third un-upgraded room was on the same floor, which was of course nice, but just showed that the upgrades weren’t really proper ones – only the name had been changed in my opinion.
I think the Waldorf Astoria Berlin could have just upgraded us to the next Corner Suite room category, which would have made a great impression on us on our special trip. I actually gave them feedback on this later, because it wouldn’t have been a big deal for the hotel to do so. They apologized and assured me they would take this into consideration in the future. We are going back again this August, so we shall see what the situation is this time. And I want to stress out that this isn’t a big deal, but it would just be better businesswise to upgrade to a higher room, when they are just sitting empty.
During the first day of our visit I noticed something small, but significant, which I’m not used to in hotels. Everyone knew me by name and room number from the beginning. They even knew the number of our new room the next morning when we had to change it during the evening after the first night (more about this later). Maybe some people take this for granted and others don’t think it’s such a big deal, but for me it made me feel like a celebrity inside the hotel. It was great! The customer service was excellent in other areas as well. Even though the Waldorf Astoria Berlin is a luxury hotel, the service didn’t feel too pompous or hard to approach. I talked with a bunch of employees during our stay, so I think I have a pretty good understanding on the level of their customer service. For example we had a ”slight” misshap, when we realized our father hadn’t taken his drivers license with him, because he didn’t know we were going to be taking him to a Porsche race track, where one is required. We had to somehow solve the problem by calling to our friends and family in Finland and also by communicating with Porsche, which was a lot easier through the employees of the hotel. All in all it ended well and everyone was pleased with the results.
I also was surprised in a positive way each time I asked for a restaurant recommendation around the area. Normally the concierge would just guide us to a restaurant they have made obvious deals with, but not here. On three different occasions we got three very different restaurants and they were far from luxurious, because we wanted it that way. Still they were perfect for what we had asked for.
The most important aspect of a hotel, when choosing one, is the room and especially bathroom quality. If I find a nice 5 star hotel with outdated rooms, I skip it. If I find one with nice rooms, but somehow outdated or just not that nice bathrooms, I skip it. But when it comes to the Waldorf Astoria, even the cheapest rooms looked absolutely fantastic and inviting, so I knew I didn’t need to worry about anything. I particularly liked the design of the marble bathrooms and the lightfixture found in them.
We chose Junior Suite rooms, which had 50 m2 (540 ft2) of space and lots of light thanks to the floor-to-ceiling windows. Our room just had one problem – we couldn’t get any cold water from the tap. When turned to cold it just poured even hotter water than from the warm side. It was difficult to work with just hot water, because for example we couldn’t brush our teeth with it and it burned our hands when trying to wash them, so something had to be done.
I thought that a hotel of this caliber would pass a ”test” like this with flying colours, but it really didn’t go down that smoothly. I told them about our problem in the morning after the first night and they promised to fix it. After we returned to the hotel after a day out on the town we noticed the problem persisted. After asking about it from the front desk, they asked me: ”Was it that you are not getting any warm water?” So apparently they had got it wrong and had to check it out again.
I went to inquire about the situation after our dinner and they explained it couldn’t be fixed while we are staying in the room, so we would have to move. I thought that maybe we would be getting an upgrade for all the trouble, but that wasn’t the case. They offered us the same room type from a lower floor and of course a bellman to take our suitcases there. I wasn’t that impressed at this point. I was thinking that seriously it’s not the best approach to ”downgrade” us because of a problem they are having.
I asked them kindly if they happened to have higher room categories available where they could put us. The employee discussed it with someone and told us she could offer us the next room category Corner Suite for free or the one after that Tower Suite, if we agreed to pay 75€ per night more. She was very nice and agreed to come and show us both rooms, so that we could make our decision. The first one was nice, but when we arrived at the Tower Suite I just knew we were home.
All in all they could have turned a small negative into a huge positive by agreeing to upgrade us without even asking (as a hotel like this should), so hopefully they will take this into consideration with their other guests in the future.
Our new suite was huge! This whole 85 m2 (915 ft2) apartment was ours! And I say apartment, because it actually had a fully equipped kitchen (with a minibar and a proper refrigerator), dining area, livingroom, separate bedroom, a small working space and even our own balcony. The windows were of course from floor to ceiling. The living room had a proper soundsystem, big TV and a comfy sofa set.
The bathroom was the same than in our previous room, but only with a little different layout and a slightly bigger shower. The only small negative about the balcony was the fact that we got a wiff of cigarette smoke from some of the cracks at one point, but thankfully it wasn’t that bad (we hate the smell of smoke). Through the huge windows we could see all over Berlin’s rooftops, including the famous landmark TV-tower and even the zoo next to the hotel. We actually saw elephants in the middle of Berlin from our livingroom’s windows.
I just had to smile when I was looking at the city lights from our 26th floor suite and enjoying life. There would have been a small bottle of Ruinart champagne in the fridge, but we decided not to celebrate with a 75€ bottle, even though it was tempting.
One thing you need to know about me and my wife-to-be is that breakfast is the ”make it or break it” –moment in our hotel stays. We love hotel breakfasts! You could compare it to a great dinner. If you’ve just eaten a fantastic meal, but the night ends with a mediocre dessert, you are left with a bad aftertaste no matter what the waguy steak tasted like before. So I kinda had high expectations on Waldorf Astoria Berlin’s breakfast. All I can say that I wasn’t dissapointed in any way. This was the best breakfast I’ve ever had!
When we arrived to the breakfast restaurant after the first night, we were immediately recognized and shown to the table where the rest of our party was already sitting. This person hadn’t seen all of us together yet and actually we had agreed with our family that everyone will go to breakfast at their own time to make things easier. We just happened to be there at the same time and this very nice lady knew who we were with. They made this table ”our table”, where we had breakfast each morning.
On the second day they had actually brought a highchair ready for my niece even though me and Tiia were the first ones there. Also I would like to add that even though luxury hotels aren’t perhaps the places where you would expect any special attention to children, I have to say that Waldorf Astoria was really accommodating and kind to my niece. They even brought her a small teddybear as a gift to keep her entertained while us adults enjoyed our breakfast.
Do you know what I hate at breakfast? Those almost empty containers with just one piece of bacon or just two croissants in the basket. It just looks so used. I never want to take the last ones, because they’re not that enticing to look at. In Waldorf Astoria Berlin there was no such problem. The containers and tables kept being filled all the time, so they always looked pretty much untouched and serene.
The same kind of mentality applied to the table where we ate at, because every time a glass or plate was empty, it was whisked away promptly, but not so that it would feel hasty. This was a good thing, because the table was pretty full of all the delicious foods and drinks we had gathered there. All of the food was very well made and I haven’t even got anything constructive to say about it.
The breakfast spread was vast, but perfect quality, so of course they had the normal things like bacon, scrambled eggs, bread and pastries, but also unique juices, water with fruits in it, smoothies, bubbly Riesling (didn’t even know about this before) with strawberries and even their own honeycomb. If this wasn’t enough for you, you could also order different kinds of omelets and waffles from the chef.
I also liked the fact that the green tea we ordered was served properly and some thought had put into it. A lot of times when you order green tea it’s just too hot, which makes it taste bitter. In Waldorf Astoria Berlin they brought the tea in silver tea pots for each individual, the green tea was brought separately (to be dipped inside the pot) and they also gave us a 3 minute hourglass to tell us when the tea was ready. If I have to say that there was something missing from this breakfast, I would only say that a view would have been nice (no view at all in there), but seriously everything was perfect.
I’ve just stayed at this one hotel in Berlin, but I can still say without a doubt that it’s absolutely one of the best hotels in the city, at least for me. The prices aren’t that astronomical either when compared to the other hotels of this caliber in the world. Normally you would have to pay 500€ just to step a foot inside one of these, but in Waldorf Astoria Berlin you can get a room for under 200€ per night.
Even the “standard” King Deluxe room will be enough for travellers who prefer a bit of luxury in their lives, but of course you can go all out and choose the Tower Suite, which we had or even the Presidential Suite, which I still want to experience one of these days. We actually liked to hotel so much that we decided to go back there in August with our friends. Let’s hope that the Tower Suite or even something better is waiting for us.
I will gladly answer questions regarding this hotel, if something comes to your mind. But what do you think about Waldorf Astoria Berlin? Have you visited there or would you want to after this? Comments are always welcome!
Ps. Thank you Tiia, for most of the pictures for this post (the better ones)!
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