Hotel am Steinplatz, Berlin
Hotel am Steinplatz originally opened as a family-owned hotel in 1913. It celebrated it's centenary by re-opening as a luxury boutique style hotel under Marriot's Autograph Collection badge. In the interim it had fallen on hard times and been converted into an "old-volks home" before being abandoned to decay.
The inspired refurbishment is a great success, adding to the already extensive range of luxury hotels in Berlin but providing a touch of panache in a neighbourhood extremely well located for shopping. Kurfürstendamm with it's kilometres of top-end shopping and bijou cinemas is a short walk away down Uhlandstrasse (turn left out of the front door). The world-famous Zoo and Tiergarten are only slightly further in the opposite direction. The hotel occupies a quiet corner of Steinplatz nicely set back from Hardenbergstrasse, opposite the beautiful Art University.
You are struck by achingly cool decor even before you cross the threshold as the automatic doors bow to you with a quiet swish. Inside it gets even better. Lots of monochrome pictures, larger than life, recalling some of the iconic figures from cinematic references to Berlin's past.
Grand Superior Twin
You may wonder why we have bothered to show you the pictures of this room, as it looks so similar to the previous room type. This is a Grand Superior room, one category below a suite. It had a nice view over Steinplatz, but felt very small for the second-best room type in the hotel. As mentioned earlier, all the rooms are reasonably well equipped.
We interestingly found out during our hotel tour that the hotel decided to categorise rooms not by size but by features. Thus, this is a Grand Superior room because it has a bath as well as a shower (all lower categories have only a walk-in shower).
In our opinion, there is not enough differentiation between the 2 room types shown here to justify the €60 difference in price.
Due to the room categorisation, it is possible to receive a lower category room that may be bigger or may offer a balcony (we would definitely recommend this in summer). As such, we would suggest e-mailing the hotel your preferences long before your stay. Better still, ring and discuss it, the staff speak perfect English.
The ambience of the restaurant was very pleasant. It feels quite private and separate from the hurly-burly of city life. There is an extensive loggia area which can be open to the courtyard when the weather allows (spring, summer and early autumn in Berlin are usually fabulous but keep it to yourself).
Having only one night to spare for this review (it was in the middle of ITB, the wold's largest travel trade-fair) we opted for room service as a way of testing the food provided in Restaurant am Steinplatz as well as the service. We shared a starter of fresh eel (the photograph shows half the portion served, I forgot to shoot before dividing it) and we both chose the venison main course. Overall, the food was beautiful, exquisitely cooked and seasoned with great care. We think the ingredients were of high quality. Shame then that the hotel does not use a hot-box for room service. Our food arrived well within the 25 minute estimate but was cold.
There is a fabulous cocktail bar with the best collection of gins I have ever seen (they even blend their own with herbs grown on-site). €20 ($25) is way over the top for a Gin & Tonic though.
If we were estate agents, I would be describing it as cosy, comfy, cosseting and extolling the hidden space-saving features. There is no way around the fact that the bedroom is on the small side. This is compensated for by the very luxurious shower room. This is one of the nicest "wet-room" showers we have enjoyed on our travels. No bath at all in our room, which was fine. We are happy if we have a good shower, plenty big enough for two to pamper each other. A large soaking tub is fine but we tend to find we rarely have time to enjoy one properly.
We were very pleased to be provided with a safe large enough to swallow two Mac-books and a camera with plenty of space to spare for passports and sundries. Why can't all hotels do this?
Good quality Illy coffee machine, small but adequate desk with plenty of power outlets and good-enough wi-fi (WLAN) make this a very good facility for a business trip if your expense account will run to the price.
One major blunder was not having a pillow menu. The pillows provided were too fat for any normal human being. Two nights here and I would need an osteopath. There are apparently other types of pillow available from housekeeping including hypo-allergenic but why not put a pair of thin pillows in the wardrobe?
There are 3 suites, all distinctly different and interesting in their own ways.
402 is the most conventional in layout but has a large balcony overlooking Steinplatz. The view is nice (The Art University is a very beautiful building) and it is very sunny in the afternoon. There is relatively little traffic and the air in Berlin is very clear. You enter 402 into the lounge then turn left to the bedroom and the bathroom is again to the left. There is a large circular bathtub, definitely big enough for two (average size) people.
503 is the "Spa Suite". It has a sauna. Again you enter into the lounge and the sauna and shower are situated in the left corner of this the largest room. The bedroom is to the right and intriguingly laid out with lots of enticing views through narrow gaps and a large walk-in wardrobe behind the head of the bed. The bathroom is very pretty and more spacious than in the other suites. Overall, it looks to be about 70 sqm.
505 has a bright, airy feel with lots of natural light. The lounge area which you enter from the corridor is quite spacious. The feeling of space is enhanced by the open bathroom to the left, through which you access the bedroom. To the left of the (fairly standard) king bedroom is a very large walk-in wardrobe.
Make no mistake this hotel is beautiful, a real festival of visual pleasure. There are however clear signs of the immaturity you would expect in such a recent opening. I'm sure they'll eventually have a pillow menu. Front-of-house need to do some serious staff training though. Check-in was slow (only one desk operating on a Friday afternoon in the middle of ITB!) and check-out was a disaster. They insist on showing new guests to their rooms. Which is fine, except when it leaves one member of staff to attend to your check-out and he keeps answering the phone every two minutes. It took over 30 minutes to check out, they had to bill us twice because they forgot to put the room-service and bar charge on our bill. To make matters worse, they charged €70 for two breakfasts we didn't have. Even though we had this taken off at checkout, they billed our card again the following day so I had to phone to complain. Some people wouldn't notice the second charge on their card, particularly if it was a company card. Finally the air-con in our room did not work. We really hope they sort these issues out because this really is a pretty hotel which has failed twice already and we'd like to see it succeed this time. It is a very challenging market in Berlin where every taste is catered for at a range of prices.