“ Address: Bissingzeile 13, Berlin „
Picking a hotel in Berlin is not easy. Not only is it a huge city, it has no obvious centre and its attractions are spread out. We chose the Fjord Hotel on the basis of cost, (lack of) amenities (for we have no special requirements) and location and booked as part of a flights/hotel deal through Expedia. I had a look at reviews of the hotel and at the hotel's own website prior to booking and the opinions I found were mostly positive.
We flew into Tegel Airport and we found clear instruction on how to reach the hotel on their website. From Tegel we took the express bus service X9 to Zoologischer Garten and from there we had to travel a couple of stops on the U2 line to Mendelssohn-Bartholdy-Park, from there it's a five minute walk to the hotel. The directions give a slightly longer walk than is necessary but we soon found a short cut through the residential estate beside the hotel.
The surrounding area is largely residential and it's not on a main road so it was a very quiet setting. There is a small parking lot under the hotel and there are parking spaces just outside, still on the hotel grounds so drivers need have no concerns about safe parking.
Initial impressions were good though it's a rather non-descript building that could be an apartment building if you didn't know it was a hotel. Almost everything inside and outside of the hotel is painted white: the 'Glacier Hotel' might have been a better name. One thing that was immediately noticeable was that the doorways were wide and there was no step into the hotel. The floor sloped up towards the reception area. I'm not sure whether this hotel has any rooms suitable for wheelchair users, but I do hope so because the public areas certainly seem well designed for that purpose.
Another couple were checking in before us and we weren't acknowledged until it was our turn to be served which I think would have been a nice gesture. The lady who dealt with us was very businesslike and efficient, and spoke excellent English but I wouldn't describe her as friendly, in fact she pulled a face when we said we didn't have a credit card with us.
According to the hotel website there is paid for wireless internet throughout the hotel. We had brought a lap top but didn't use the hotel's wi-fi in the end as we spent so little time in the hotel it wasn't worth the charge. We learned the charge from a notice posted in the lift. (Euro1.50 per hour, Euro5 for 24 hours) The receptionist did not tell us that wi-fi was available when we checked in, in fact she told us only which number our room was and that we should use the key to access both the main hotel door and our room when there was no receptionist.
Our room was on the first floor and after a couple of dead ends we found it; it's only a small hotel but it would be helpful if there were some signs advising you of which rooms are on which corridor. Check in is from 2.00pm and we had arrived not long after 1.00pm; the rooms next to us were being serviced but ours was ready. The first thing we noticed was the unpleasant smoky smell; smoking is not permitted inside the hotel but clearly it must have been allowed fairly recently as the carpet in our room had a deep, lingering stale smell. Later when we came back to the hotel, the smell of new smoke was really strong on our corridor; someone must have been smoking on the fire escape and had probably, due to the cold, stood in the doorway to smoke, rather than going outside and closing the door behind them.
There are 3 grades of room - basic, lifestyle and two penthouses. We stayed in a basic room. The hotel website explains how the basic and lifestyle differ.
The room was quite spacious although the space wasn't necessarily where you'd want it. There was spacious built in wardrobe, a well lit desk-cum-dressing table with a large mirror behind it and two tub chairs and a two seater sofa arranged around a small coffee table, as well as a fair-sized double bed. A television that was slightly too large for the room was perched on a small cupboard; its position was really good for neither the bed nor the seating area.
The en suite was bigger than I'd expected, as was its washbasin which had (according to Himself who has a superior spatial awareness to my own) near enough the same area as the shower tray. The bathroom was spotless which it really had to be, given that it was almost entirely white; the crack in the washbasin let down the appearance of the room. There were no complimentary toiletries but there was a very pleasant smelling hand/body wash in a wall mounted dispenser. I did find the shower tricky to adjust for temperature at first but once a happy medium was found we didn't have to alter the shower again. The towels were a bit on the titchy side but they smelled very fresh and were soft.
Now, I'm allergic to feather pillows and I had made a request through Expedia to have synthetic pillow but the pillows on the bed contained feathers. The young man servicing the rooms was still next door so I asked for another one. He brought another one with feathers so thinking he has misunderstood I asked again at reception on our way out. I was told they only have pillows with feathers but that they would look for a synthetic one for me. The problem is not just the dust mites, but the actual feather itself that I am allergic too; besides I find feather pillows too soft and hate the way they bunch up around your head. When we returned there were still feather pillows on the bed. I went to reception and was shown the label that says these pillows are suitable for allergy sufferers. I was told that this pillow was all they had and that they would not be able to produce an alternative during my stay: a stiff neck for me then.
We hadn't booked breakfast when making our reservation and when we saw the price listed (again) on a notice in the lift) we remembered why not: Euro12.50 per person. We'd much rather grab something on the go and we were able to find plenty of places for a pastry and coffee a five minute walk away on Postsdamer Strasse. A lot of people appeared to have gone for the breakfast option, perhaps because of the convenience; however, when you can stay in the hotel for as little as Euro44 for a double room, Euro12.50 per person for breakfast seems silly. (Prices tend to go up at weekends and appear to rise to as much as Euro84).
The breakfast room doubles as a restaurant and bar in the evenings. It was always closed by the time we got back so I can't comment on it other to say that it wasn't the sort of hotel bar that is a source of noise late at night. There was no fridge in the room but there was a small basket of drinks and snack items that could be purchased and prices seemed to me typical for hotels in western Europe.
Hotel Fjord looks from its publicity material to be a somewhat hip and stylish place. In truth it is a clean (if not always fresh and fragrant) budget hotel that is surely one of the best deals in Berlin with permanently low prices and one that offers a higher level of comfort than you'd expect for hotels of this kind in a major European capital city. In terms of room standard it's on a par with the UK's Premier Inn or Travelodge chains; characterless but absolutely fine for tourists who are going to be out from early till late.
Some new carpets, or at least a Shake'n'vac each time the room is serviced, would make a dramatic improvement, as would the addition of a little more lighting. There are bedside lamps, a light over the desk and an overhead light over the useless piece of floor space as you enter the room. If you wanted to sit and read on the sofa, however, you'd find this a poorly lit spot.
I would rate this hotel differently depending on the type of customer. It's not so great for business travellers but great for tourists who need nothing more than a good value comfortable place to sleep.