REVIEW: Best Western Berlin Spittelmarkt
If you take a quick look back at all the hotel reviews I’ve done, you’ll notice that I seem to have a bit of sweet spot for Best Western. It’s a bit odd in some respects I suppose. Most people who take the time to provide hotel reviews tend to focus on higher end properties – the Four Seasons, Park Hyatts, Aman resorts, etc. I’m not exactly a man of means though, so while I treat myself to the occasional luxury property, the Best Western is more often where I end up staying because they often offer a great value. They tend to be quite dependable as they meet a minimum threshold of comfort and many offer free breakfast and wifi for guests.
Hotels in Europe tend to be pretty expensive, and Berlin was no exception for the time frame I was looking to visit. I thought I’d catch a bit of a break as I was arriving during the winter and with the cold and snow I hoped prices would be rather low, but that was not the case. I debated paying over $200 USD a night for properties like the Westin, Radisson Blu, and Grand Hyatt, but in the end I couldn’t justify the additional cost and booked the Best Western Spittelmarkt for $70 USD a night.
I have to note that I have very few photos from my stay due to an issue that cropped up during my stay that I will detail in a future post, hopefully in a week or two. I’ll try to give as much information as possible despite the lack of visual evidence though!
Berlin has quite a few Best Westerns to choose from – 12 by my count. Quite a few of them had similar prices but I ended up choosing the Spittelmarkt location due to its proximity to the city center as well as easy access to the Spittelmarkt U-Bahn station.
It’s not exactly in the middle of all the action, but it’s still in the urban core and close to many sights. Despite all this, the area around the hotel did feel a little “dead”. There were many stores and offices located all around but most of them were never open or shuttered any time I walked past. Even the restaurants were closed for the most part or seemed to be operating on limited hours.
The Spittelmarkt U-Bahn station was quite useful. Only a few stops away from most of the major tourist sights that I wanted to see, and a few were even within walking distance. The Museum Island (Museumsinsel) is only one block away, though the actual museums are a few blocks further. Location wise this was a great place to base yourself for touring.
SERVICE & STAFF
My routing to Berlin started in Boston and routed through New York, Tokyo, and then Frankfurt with American Airlines, Japan Airlines and AirBerlin, so needless to say I was a bit exhausted by the time I finally collected my luggage and was ready to head to the hotel. I skipped public transit and decided to take a taxi. Once I was out of the cab and in the lobby things went smoothly if a bit … sternly. The gentleman working the front desk managed to get me set to go in less than 30 seconds. He simply asked for my name and passport. Based on that information he looked into a little box and pulled out a room key with my name and room number on it and handed it over to me. Without a smile he directed me to the elevators (directly to the right of the front desk), notified me that breakfast was served in the basement, and reminded me that smoking was not allowed in the room. And with that, he was done and promptly returned to surfing the internet.
It got the job done and for $70 USD a night, I can’t complain. But then again, friendliness is free.
I did have a better experience with the staff a little later in my trip. I needed some help calling a cab to take me to the train station when it was time for me to leave Berlin. This time two friendly women were manning the desk and they took the time to call a cab for me. The five minute wait for the cab was filled with them asking me how I enjoyed my time in Berlin and whether I thought it was a nice place to visit. Much more smiles from these two than the gentleman who helped me the evening I checked in.
I guess one of the good things about having spent the night in Japan on my way to Berlin was that it prepared me for the rather small room. It had slightly more room than your average Japanese hotel room, but overall it was very similar. Once I walked into the room there was a very narrow walk way funneling you to the left. Directly at the opening of the hallway was a bench to hold luggage, a detached closet, and a desk with chair.
All the wood in the room was dark with eggshell paint on the wall. It was all rather spartan – not overly attractive but functional. The desk had a rather worn clear binder containing internet access information, general hotel information, and sightseeing advice. To the right of the desk and closet was the bed.
In typical low to mid tier European hotel fashion, my “double” bed booking was simply two twin beds pushed together. This is probably one of the most annoying features of traveling in Europe in my very humble opinion. It’s certainly a first world problem but let me explain. At home I share a queen bed with my 6’3″ partner and two dogs. One of the great joys of traveling when I’m alone is being able to throw myself into a giant, comfortable bed with my legs and arms akimbo taking up as much damn space as possible. Not because I need it, but because I can. The presence of a giant gap running down the middle of the bed really cramps my style.
I immediately developed a bit of a frowny face but overall the beds were comfortable and served their purpose. Linens were a bit cheap but what do you expect at the Best Western?
Across from the bed was a wall mounted television. It wasn’t set into the wall and the cords dangled beneath it, which really didn’t add anything to the ambiance of the room. A little low budget but again, it wasn’t anything that concerned me because I was pleased with the room for the price that I paid. The selection of television stations was rather limited. There was only a single English language station available with the majority of the remaining channels in German. A few of the German channels played English language shows from time to time. The wifi was solid and I never had any connection issues.
Through the door next to the television was the bathroom, which was the nicest part of the room.
This was the only area of the room that had a bit of personality. The tiled section of the wall set it apart from the eggshell monotone of the remainder of the room. The hand soap as well as the shampoo and body wash in the shower were dispensed from squeeze bottles that were mounted to holders. It was a bit odd and remains the only hotel I’ve ever stayed at where this was the case. I’ve had soap dispensed from pumps before, but never squeeze bottles hanging like vampires.
Across from the sink was a towel rack and a shaving mirror. The shower stall was to the right of the toilet. Shower temperature was fantastic and the water pressure superb. It was, oddly, one of the best hotel showers I’ve ever experienced.
Overall, this property was a bit bare bones. The staff seemed hit or miss based on my limited interaction and the room certainly left a lot of be desired. However, you have to keep in mind the price being offered. The Best Western Spittelmarkt isn’t looking to compete with the aforementioned Park Hyatt or Westin. They’re offering you a low price for a product that’s going to fit that price, and they certainly deliver on that.
So if you’re looking for luxury or pampering, you should certainly avoid this hotel. But if you need a clean bed, hot shower, and working wifi at a solid price, this is a property you should consider the next time you’re in Berlin.
Location in the Mitte district means you’re in the central part of the city with easy access to public transportation and tourist sights.
Low price point makes securing lodgings in Berlin affordable in a city where hotel prices can sometimes be pricey.
Hotel rooms are spartan and not likely to win any design awards any time soon.
Service seemed hit or miss based on the limited interactions I had with staff.