â€œ Address: Karl-Liebknecht-StraÃŸe 3 / 10178 Berlin / Germany / Tel: +49 30 23828-0 â€ž
From the moment we emerged from the revolving door into the lobby of the hotel we knew we were staying somewhere just a little bit different.
I stood for a moment, watching people having a coffee in the lounge area, others perched at the bar sipping late afternoon drinks then my eyes drifted to the stunning focal point of the large lobby area - the 25 metre high cylindrical aquarium. An observation lift was gliding almost imperceptibly upwards within the core of the structure. Beautifully coloured fish of varying sizes swam seemingly unaware of the people watching them - from both "inside" and outside the aquarium. That was the moment when it dawned on me - just what was the striking characteristic of this hotel - the calm. The hotel seemed to be full of life and yet so peaceful and calming - such a contrast with the bustling city streets.
Situated on Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse in the Mitte district of Berlin, this hotel is superbly situated for sightseeing. The River Spree runs to one side of the hotel and if you leave from the main door and turn right you are just a few metres away from a boarding point for sight-seeing boat trips. You will also be facing the Cathedral (Dom) with its baroque style dome and stunning architecture. Very close at hand is Museum Island and the National Gallery. Continue in this direction and you will be strolling down "Unter den Linden" . This will lead you to the Brandenburg gate - just about 15 - 20 minutes stroll from the hotel. If you were to turn left from the hotel entrance you would reach Alexanderplatz and the TV tower within minutes
So what does the hotel offer inside? Well, I have to say that if you are hoping for a taste of traditional German decor style you won't find it here. This is a city centre, very modern hotel and frankly, once inside your room you could be in any major city in the world. That said, the rooms are sufficiently spacious for a short stay - light and airy and yet the furnishings give a feeling of warmth and comfort. All the features of a 5-star hotel are there - the trouser press, the hairdryer, the safe, the mini-bar, the tea/coffee making equipment - all of which I would describe as "adequate" rather than outstanding. The flat screen TV and the free WiFi are helpful. The bathroom is quite stylish and clinically clean. (One feature of interest for us was a telephone handset attached to the wall within reach of anyone sitting on the lavatory. This, of course, can provide hours of amusement for those of us with a less refined sense of humour.) The only real negative I could find about the room was the bed. Instead of having a kingsize bed we had two singles pushed together - and not with a very strong fixture at that. Many a time I turned over in the night to find the gap widening! Such a pity, as the bed was otherwise supremely confortable with lovely crisp white linen.
Facilities offered at the hotel include solarium, fitness studio, sauna and small swimming pool - none of which we had time to try unfortunately. Conference facilities are also available.
We ate a buffet breakfast in the Atrium Lounge area and were overwhelmed with choice. Cold buffet, hot buffet, and "healthy options". There were loaves of the most beautiful bread to cut for yourself and also a choice of rolls, croissants, pastries and crispbreads. Staff flitted between the tables to take extra orders. The quality and presentation of the breakast menu was excellent.
The hotel has two restaurants - HEat offering a wide range of international dishes and Noodle Kitchen offering Asian specialities such as Singapore noodles and Sushi. We were booked to eat at other restaurants in the city with my husband's business associates so we did not get the opportunity to try these. Both looked attractive though I have a fancy the bill would have been sizeable from either of these eateries. There are plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants within easy walking distance of the hotel so there is no need to be tied to these "in-house" options.
The service. Ah yes, the service. Shall we say the staff did their job in a fairly polite fashion. (The only time we had a problem to be solved - the plastic card which acts as your room key and also lift operating key just refused to work. The young gentleman at reception did eventually agree to change it but it took some work convincing him it was faulty in the first place. He just kept peering at us in disbelief and with something close to pity as if we were incapable of using the device properly.) We did not want big hugs or fanfares every time we walked in the entrance but a little more cheeriness would have been welcome.
So - the crunch - the price. Well, as with most large city hotels there are a range of prices depending on room type and which part of the week - or year - you want to stay. Here's an example of the cost: if you book for this weekend coming for Saturday night you can have a standard room for 195 Euros (about Â£176). (That's the total for two people for one night and includes breakfast.) Booking further ahead helps - late this year there are rooms for two available for 139 Euros including breakfast or 104 Euros without. (That works out at about Â£126 and Â£94 respectively.) Its not cheap by any stretch of the imagination but for the comfort and superbly convenient location I think it could be considered for a treat or a special occasion.
One final note on the Berlin Radisson - the cost of using the observation lift in the aquarium is not included for hotel guests. To pay for this, you must obtain tickets at a cost of 14.50 Euros for adults and 11 Euros for children.
For further information, use the hotel's website:
(Note that the hotel has dropped the 'SAS' part of the name and is re-branded as Radisson Blu.)
(NB This review appears on other sites under the name of ALM1 and The Travelling Geordie.)
I stayed at the Radisson SAS Hotel in Berlin during March 2008, and had a fantastic time. It is rated as a 5 star hotel and as soon as you walk through the front doors you can begin to see why. In the spacious lobby there is a huge cylindrical aquarium - the biggest in Europe I believe, which rises above the lobby bar and continues upwards towards the top of the building. It is a seriously impressive way to begin your stay.
The rooms here are also very good, though not furnished to the highest standard I have seen, and if you are used to very luxurious 5 stars you may feel a little let down. They are very comfortable though, and modern, and they include a desk, chair, dressing table, and a television with sky sports, sky news and a few other channels. The bathrooms are excellent, very stylishly done out, though without locks on the door, which you may find annoying if you are keen on your privacy.
We paid a little extra for 'business' rooms - as far as I could tell these were the same rooms but included slippers (open toed in case you're wondering!), bathrobes and a coffee machine.
They business rooms also included breakfast, which is worth the extra if you're someone who likes to eat a lot during the mornings - there was hot food, cereal, yoghurts, fruit, waffles with syrup, etc - again not the highest standard I have eaten, but certainly good enough to set you up for the day ahead.
The hotel also includes an Asian noodle restaurant which we did not try, and a general restaurant which we did experience - it was expensive but quite pleasant. The service was a little slow, which was disappointing as it is a huge restaurant and we were the sole customers, apart from one other couple.
There is also a spa at the hotel - but this is really not the place to go if you want a big, luxurious spa experience. There is a nice but very small pool (I would think more than 3 people in there would make it feel crowded), and also two saunas and a steam room. Treatments are offered (I believe there is a treatment guide on the website), but we did not try these.
The main advantage of the hotel is perhaps its location. It is in the middle of West Berlin, just down the road from the TV tower (you must get the lift to the top and eat in the revolving restaurant if you have time to queue!), and across the road from a small park area, on the other side of which are some nice restaurants with open air seating and sometimes live music. Also, the DDR Museum is right next to the hotel on the left hand side, which is well worth a visit. In addition, the river is next to the hotel, and you can get (quite boring) boat trips along it. On the other side of the river you have the Berliner Dom or cathedral, which is amazing both inside and out (and if you ask for a hotel room with a window facing outwards, you will get a fantastic view of this). Most of Berlin's attractions are easily accessible from this hotel - the Brandenburg gate is only a ten minute walk or so and anything that cannot be walked to can easily be reached on the bus.
One annoying thing - although there is a glass lift that goes up through the aquarium in the hotel's lobby, you have to pay at the sea life centre to the right of the hotel to go in it.