REVIEW: Berlin Tegel Mercure
Unfortunately I lost about half of my stash of photos for this hotel stay, so it’s going to be pretty short and sweet. This was the last hotel on a fairly epic journey that started in New York City and took me through Tokyo, Frankfurt, Budapest, Munich, and Berlin.
I needed a place to stay overnight between the Lufthansa economy class leg from Munich and my departure on AirBerlin back to the US of A. Since I was traveling on separate tickets I figured it was safest to give myself a one day buffer as I was traveling during winter and foul weather tends to happen on occasion. It ended up being a perfectly lovely time to travel though. I didn’t really put much effort into finding a hotel for this stopover. A quick search for cheap options near the airport had the Mercure pop up at a very affordable rate of $66 USD/night. Being a brand name I recognized but had never stayed at, and the fact that it advertised a free shuttle service, I decided to give it a shot.
Considering the ease with which travelers can get to and from a property is likely high on the list of things people look for in an airport hotel, the Mercure certainly looks good on paper. It’s located just outside the entrance to Berlin’s Tegel airport, and is pretty much viewable from the taxi queues of the closest terminal.
The problem I had with the hotel is actually getting the shuttle to take you the short distance between the terminals and lobby. Sure, it’s a short distance to walk, but the airport’s layout isn’t designed for pedestrian traffic in the area between the terminals and the hotel.
Mercure’s Tegel property requires passengers to call the front desk of the hotel in order to have a shuttle dispatched to pick you up. This is something I wasn’t aware of prior to arriving and struggled with once I’d collected my luggage from Lufthansa. I didn’t have an active cellphone to contact the hotel and there was no courtesy phone available either. Eventually the information attendants near one of the airport exits took pity on me and called the shuttle for me. Problem solved, but one that customers should be aware of prior to arriving. While I’ve had to call for hotel shuttles at other properties, those were typically smaller markets like Omaha or Dayton. I had incorrectly assumed (never a good thing to do when traveling) a big city like Berlin’s airport hotels would provide regularly scheduled shuttle service. Lesson learned.
The room provided to me was very basic but served its function just fine. Upon entering the room to your immediate right was a closet space with luggage rack. There was no actual closet enclosure for your use, just an open air set up which worked just fine for my one night needs.
To your immediate left was the entrance to the bathroom. The first thing that struck me about the area was the wooden floor.
I have to admit that this element confused me a bit. I felt like it was nice – a little homier than the cold tile or marble most hotels use as flooring in their bathrooms. Yet the wood seemed completely out of place when compared with the rest of the room and didn’t even match the decor or carpeting throughout the rest of the room. It was almost as if someone had ripped the bathroom off of another hotel room and stitched it on to this room. The “human centipede” of hotel bathrooms, if you will.
The floor wasn’t the only odd feature about this hotel’s bathroom. The showering area was some type of pre-fabricated module shoved into the corner. It was very Japanese in appearance with the molded plastic and deep tub. The front end of the tub closer to the shower head was circular-shaped. This would have been a nice touch (additional room to move around when showering but not compromising the ability to take a bath) if it wasn’t for that odd half-wall enclosure. It might seem silly but I showered twice during my stay at this hotel and both times I kept bumping into the wall of the enclosure or reaching out to brace myself on the wall only to find I had reached for a section that was missing. It’s one of those “shit or get off the pot” situations for me. Go full wall or go home.
Continuing past the odd bathroom and non-closet in the entrance I found an entertainment center and minibar on the right hand side. A television sat on top of the center along with some information on the hotel’s dining options and amenities.
The minibar’s prices were much better than those at the Westin in Munich, though still a bit inflated for my taste. I found myself wishing I had picked up some snacks at the terminal as I arrived fairly early in the day and wanted something to graze on a few times during my stay.
When facing the entertainment center, directly behind you was the bed. Though I believe it was only a full mattress and not a queen, I did give the Mercure props for using an actual single mattress and not the ever so common crime against humanity perpetrated across Europe by hotels where they simply shove two twin bed mattresses together for your sleeping pleasure. The head board had flimsy end tables protruding on each side, and underneath those tables were outlets for charging.
At the end of the room was a desk facing the window and a small chair for lounging. I didn’t give much use to either of those amenities. I can actually say that for about 95% of my hotel stays the side chair and the hotel desk almost never get used. They’re completely useless. The funny thing is that if the hotel were to recognize how little I and other (I’m making an assumption here, and could be so very wrong) use these options and simply removed them to save money, I’d probably complain that the room is too sparsely decorated or that there was no where to work.
The safe was electronic and included inside the entertainment center. Additional blankets and pillows were stocked inside the cabinet, probably because they don’t provide an actual closet for storage. Wifi provided was mediocre at best but still was fast enough to send and receive emails and browse Facebook.
The best way to describe the staff at the Mercure is efficient. I know in my other reviews of hotels and airline staff in Germany that I’ve mentioned how efficient yet distant service seemed to be a hallmark, and that experience certainly holds true with this hotel property. Everyone I encountered from the shuttle bus driver to the check-in staff to the servers in the restaurant provided fast and efficient service without ever cracking a smile or appearing to have feelings even once. An impressive feat considering how talkative I can be at times.
I wouldn’t expect anything fancy from the staff, but you can trust that they’re going to get everything needed to make your stay efficient will be done promptly and properly all without a single smile. And you won’t even feel that bad that they don’t smile. I’ll take a prompt curbside drop off to catch a flight over a smile any day!
Berlin Tegel Mercure is the epitome of a bare bones operation airport hotel. Shuttles need to be called for, staff are more focused on processing you through the system correctly than asking you how your day was, and the room itself is all function and no fashion. And yet that’s almost exactly what you want in an airport hotel for a short stay. No jazzuci tubs, no massage spa, no amusing door man. If I were passing through Tegel again and the Mercure was still pricing under $100 USD a night, I’d definitely consider staying here again. That being said, I’m not committed to the idea either and would stay at another airport property if they were priced lower than Mercure and offered the shuttle as well.