“ Sterneckstrasse 20 / 5020 Salzburg / Austria / Tel: +43662 882031 „
Salzburg has lots of hotels but there is very little budget accommodation close to the centre; the hostels I looked at on-line were too far out of the centre to be worth considering and even if we resigned ourselves to being based further out, they were still pretty expensive with limited availability.
A timely email from Accor hotels offered a possible solution and we found a reasonable deal for £142 for two nights at the Mercure Kapuzinerberg, billed as a four star hotel and situated about ten minutes walk from the Mirabelle Gardens and Linzer Gasse, with another five minutes strolling time to the main touristic area. We booked through Accor earning A-Club points but went first through topcashback.co.uk earning almost £15 back in cash.
I'm guessing most visitors would take a taxi to the hotel from the train station or the airport (visitors to Salzburg seem to be rather well heeled for the most part) but according to our map it should only have been a ten minute walk at most from the train station and so we set off on foot on a sweltering September afternoon, hauling our rucksacks. As the station is uindergoing massive renovation work it took some time to locate the temporary footbridge which would mean we didn't have to go miles out of our way.
There are two Mercure hotels in fairly close proximity; the Kapuzinerberg, so-called because it stands just under the Kapuzinerberg, is situated on a fairly busy main road, though in the evenings and during the night there was minimal traffic. The hotel is housed in a modern building that has little kerb appeal and not much in the way of an welcoming entrance. It's only slightly set back from the pavement and has a narrow forecourt between the doors and the pavement.
The ground floor space contains the reception area, a small bar and lots of funky white seating, much of it low level - I can imagine my parents trying to sit on these chairs and trying to get up again! The restaurant/breakfast room is just off the main foyer, with a view of the road in front of the hotel. It's funny that the cleverly taken publicity shots of the hotel give the impression that the hotel enjoys some leafy location and while rooms at the rear do kind of look out onto the Kapuzinerberg, if you look down you'll see the horrible back "garden" of the hotel which looks terrible.
At this point I should mention that our initial contact with the staff was positive. I was a little disappointed that my attempts to check in speaking German were returned with English even though my German wasn't bad at all but all the staff we encountered spoke excellent English and no doubt wanted to show it off. It was only later, when a couple of issues arose, that we found that the staff weren't hugely proactive or helpful.
Our room was on the first floor at the end of the corridor furtherest from the lift which suited me as it means that nobody has to walk past your room. As we exited the lift and made our way to the room we noticed lots of lighter patches on the carpet that looked a bit like bleach had been spilt; there were also lots of marks on the walls. The light immediately outside our room flickered incesantly and as ours was the only room that had a fanlight above the door I did think that we'd be kept awake at night but what we found on the other side persuaded me that this would not be the case. Immediately inside there was first a large room, empty but for a wardrobe and a place to stand luggage. The main part of the room was beyond this.
My initial reaction was that the room was dark; this was partly due to the fact that the room was at the rear of the building and so the mountain did block out a lot of the light on a gloriously sunny day. There's no denying, though, that the room was fairly gloomy anyway. Whether the from the one now perched on a table that was far too small for it, or some other television set, there was a horrible griny line on the wall and other marks from bumps and bashes in lots of places on all of the walls. As there was no air conditioning (which surprised me given that it's meant to be a fou star hotel) there was a free standing electric fan placed in an rather silly place right in front of the window.
The bathroom was also disappointing. It was clean and it was by no means small but the tiles really needed to be regrouted and one of the ceiling tiles had not been properly replaced so, as a result, the shower curtain rail was touching it and the curtain could not be easily pulled along. There was a shower over the bath which worked perfectly well but both of us (and HImself is six feet two) felt that the side of the bath was quite high and this could be a problem for some guests.
There were four pillows on the bed, two synthetic and two feather-filled. As the pillows were quite plump we discarded the ones with feathers (which I am allergic to and Himself just doesn't like) and made do with the synthetic ones.
After a quick wash we went out to see the sights of Salzburg and returned around ten p.m. I wanted to check some things for the following two days and having changed into night attire, I fired up the netbook only to find that I could not connect to the hotel's wi-fi. A leaflet gave instructions but I still could not connect. I picked up the telephone to contact reception but there were no numbers by the phone, nor in the infomation folder. I guessed at zero but this was not right so Himself re-dressed and went to enquire at reception.
"Oh yes" he was told "your room is on the corner of the hotel where there is no connection. But you can come and use the connection in the foyer if you like". Actually we didn't like' we'd been chilling down our own beers in the minibar all evening and we wanted to surf the net in comfort enjoying a cold beer. The seating in the foyer really wasn't comfortable looking and it would be a real pain to try to use the netbook there. The receptionist suggested using our computer in the outer room but this was not really practical either as there was no desk in there. The only way you could use it would be to lie on the floor or to kneel on the floor with the netbook on the suitcase shelf. A request for an alternative room was refused on the grounds that all the rooms were full that night but that we could be moved the following day.
The next morning we packed our bags and went to reception to request our room change. Although a room would not be ready till later, we left our bags with the receptionist and we told when the room would be ready. We explained that we would not come back until much later as we didn't wish to trail back to the hotel in the middle of our only full day in the city.
On our return towards the end of the afternoon we were issued with new swipecards and advised that our luggage was in the new room. This room was almost directly opposite the lift which was disappointing but we resolved to be happy with the room change. This time there was no big "ante room" and the sleeping area seemed to be smaller but the room was certainly better presented. Then we realised that our luggage was not there; this news surprised the receptionist we called down to but ten minutes later there was a knock at the door and we were reunited with our bags.
In this room there were only two pillows and no spares stashed away. Of course, both contained feathers and so too did the quilts. I started to make my way to reception but found on of the reception staff in the corridor just outside our room and she said she would ask the housekeeper to find snythetic quilts and pillows. Half an hour later we were ready to go out for the evening and as we had heard nothing about the bedding I asked again. The young woman I'd spoken too looked a little sheepish and told me that they couldn't do anything as I had not told them in advance of my stay. I pointed out that the hotel did have these items as I'd had them the night before and asked very politely for her to do her best to find those items for me before we came back in a few hours time. She didn't look confident but we had what we'd requested when we got back.
Quite how this how this hotel gets its four star status is beyond me; perhaps I'd have been more inclined to believe it had it not been quite so down at heel. There were several threadbare patches on carpet on the stairs (two of which could have been dangerous) and since most customers were using the lift it seems odd that the stair carpet should be so damaged.
The reception staff were young and I feel they'd have benefitted from the inclusion of someone more mature in their team who would have been better able to deal with complaints. I got the impression that the staff would prefer to just hope the issue would go away than to find a solution to any problems they were presented with.
We didn't eat breakfast (or any other meal) at the hotel; at Euro15 each it was just too expensive and there were plenty of bakeries nearby to grab something. Surprisingly for a hotel room in this part of the world, the room contained facilities for making hot drinks although there appeared to be a strong preference for coffee over tea.
This isn't a bad hotel but it could be greatly improved, not least by a general tidy up of all the little things that need fixing or painting. The standard of customer service could also be improved and the attention to detail needs work - it was tedious not to be able to contact reception by phone when we couldn't find a list of telephone numbers for locations inside the hotel.
I initially thought of awarding this hotel three stars of a possible five because some of the probelms we experienced are quite minor; however, the fact that these minor issues appear to have been ignored when they could easily be tackled is what is so annoying about the place. It's shame because the location is good and you can get prices that would be very fair if some of those issues were resolved.
(The hotel has some private parking for guests arriving by car)