â Address: Leipziger StraÃe 21 // 10117 Berlin // Germany // Tel: +49 30 930290 â
Our recent short break in Berlin gave us an opportunity to discover a city we had not previously visited. Consequently we had no idea where would be a good place to base ourselves. Our visit was originally intended to have been combined with a training course my wife was running in nearby Potsdam but, as it turned out, our German hosts screwed up the arrangements and so our short break turned out to be all play and no work.
Our hosts had, however, recommended us a suitable hotel and, checking it out on Tripadvisor, it seemed that it would be a not unpleasant experience. At a discount rate of Euro87.50 a night plus Euro7.50 for breakfast, it would not be an expensive one, for a city centre hotel. But how would it rate otherwise?
Hotel Kubrat Berlin Mitte, to give it its full name is located, as the "Mitte" bit of the name suggests, pretty much in the centre of Berlin. In fact it is located close to the junction of Leipziger Strasse and Freidrichstrasse, and just around the corner from the world-famous site of Checkpoint Charlie. This part of Berlin was in East Berlin, before the Berlin Wall came down, back in 1989.
Leipziger Strasse runs East/West, parallel to Unter den Linden, which is just 1km North, up Freidrichstrasse, an easy walk of about 10/15 minutes. The Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag building can be easily reached on foot in 30 minutes or in around 10 minutes on Berlin's excellent train system. The Gendarmenmarkt, famous for its restaurants, is just across the road. For location, the hotel could hardly be much better.
The hotel is unspectacular from the outside, victim, undoubtedly, to the unimaginative building style imposed on East Berlin by its Russian masters when Berlin was reconstructed from the devastation of WWII. The addition of a conservatory style extension on the front, extending to the edge of the pavement, is the only distinguishing feature. This houses the hotel's restaurant in which you take breakfast. Alongside is an open-air patio for those who have not yet given up the weed. The hotel is no-smoking.
We were made to feel most welcome; all of the staff with whom we dealt spoke good English. Our room (204) was on the first floor and overlooked the central courtyard, enclosed on all sides by the hotel and other buildings. Here, there was no traffic noise from the busy roads indeed, little noise at all, even with the windows open. The courtyard does contain car parking spaces for those arriving by car.
Our first impressions of our room were mixed. The room was more a suite than a room: the entrance lobby was divided from the sleeping area by another door and where was to be found all of the storage; the bathroom opened off this lobby as well; yet another, a shower room, also opens off of the lobby. This latter is strange: the space is actually larger than the bathroom but contains nothing more than a standard sized shower in the far corner, plus a table for toiletries, and a footstool!
Opening up the clothes storage, a very limited number of hangers were provided and, stranger even than this, most of the shelves were missing! However, there were adequate drawers.
On entering the sleeping area, an unpleasant stale sweat smell was evident. It gave the impression that the room had not been aired for some time. However, after a few hours with the windows open whilst we went out to explore Berlin, the smell had dissipated, not to return during our stay.
Our room was a twin rather than the double, with a large unit between the beds, preventing them being brought together. All of the furniture, save for a sofa, was made from white finished chipboard, even the bed bases, which had clearly seen better days. However, the whole suite was very clean so the issue was really just one of appearance. There was also a free-standing fan though no air-conditioning. Heating was by way of substantial cast-iron radiators with thermostatic valves, but the one in the bathroom didn't work! In the shower room there was just an electric wall heater.
Entertainment was provided by the usual TV but no English language channels were available, not even the ubiquitous CNN! Fortunately we didn't have to rely upon this as the weather, whilst cold, did not prevent us getting out in to Berlin during our stay.
Breakfast is provided in the conservatory at the front of the hotel and consists of the usual continental fare, cereals, cold meats, cheese and salads. Bread consists only of rolls so, no opportunity to have toast. However, you can tear the rolls up and have them with butter, margarine and jams. Fruit juices are available, as well as coffee and tea.
So, how did we enjoy our stay? Well, first of all, let's confirm that for a city-centre hotel, value for money cannot be questioned. The hotel itself was comfortable and the staff could not have been more welcoming or helpful. However, let's be honest, the atmosphere does seem to reflect its location in what was the former East Berlin. It gives the impression that it is struggling to throw off the influences of the former Russian masters of this part of Germany but has yet to entirely succeed. Having said that, were we to return to Berlin, and that is entirely possible, I would have no qualms about staying here again.