Mystery Review: Waldorf Astoria, Berlin
During my last trip to Berlin, I had the chance to score a great deal for a room at the Waldorf Astoria. Having stayed at the Hotel De Rome, Grand Hyatt, Regent and Ritz Carlton (the latter and first one being the favorites), I think it is fair to say that I know the Berlin luxury hotel market quite well. While on one side there is a good choice of luxury hotels, at the same time I feel there is something missing. Perhaps that’s due to the locations in Berlin as there is no A-location to stay. Both, Potsdamer Square and Mitte is good for me, however, this time I wanted to try something else and went for the most upscale product of the Hilton Family. Situated in one of Berlin’s highest buildings, I was expecting to see the rooms on the top floors as it is the case for Asian properties (Park Hyatt Shanghai or Ritz Carlton Hong Kong to name a few).
Check-in was friendly and because I arrived in the morning, the room was not ready yet. This was fine as I was packed with meetings anyways. Once I came back to the property, they provided me with the keys and my baggage was already on the room which was a lovely touch. Having booked a Deluxe Double room with a view, they allocated me one on the 15th floor which turned out to be the highest available. Generally, the room was perfectly cleaned and had all the amenities I was expecting for a hotel of this caliber. While it would have been nice to see at least a fruit basket or a personalized welcome letter, it seems the management isn’t focused too much on the details. Personally, I was impressed by the spacious layout of the room and the fact that you could access the bathroom from the entrée as well as the bedroom. Overall the beds were really good and I loved the bathroom with the soft marble floor, the generous Salvatore Ferragamo toiletries (they put 75ml for me) and the separate walk-in shower got my full attention as the bathtub was on the other side of the bathroom and the toilet was separated as well.
Housekeeping wasn’t the most attentive, as they forgot to add new shower gel for the second night and I ended up calling the front desk. Same for the towels: I prefer to shower twice per overnight most of the times and having stayed there with a colleague they only provided one set of towels per person. I called the housekeeping for a second set the first evening but they removed the towels and didn’t put two bath towels per person again the next days. Wi-Fi is charged at 12 euros per hour and 25 euros for 24 hours which was insane however being a Hilton Honors member I was confirmed that it would have been for free at the end of my stay. Of course, I did not use it as I was scared by the high fees. So just sign up for the loyalty programme for free and enjoy complimentary Wi-Fi. Since I knew that my time in Berlin will be super busy, another reason for the choice of the hotel was the pool and spa. Not being aware that there is an actual charge for the use of the pool, I was informed by the spa staff in a very unfriendly way. She seemed to treat me very disrespectful and wanting to charge the 15 euros per person for even a 20-minute visit.
Once I agreed to pay the fee for a few minutes of relaxation, I was totally turned off by the actual pool and sauna area. There were towels lying everywhere and actually there was no empty lounge chair so I ended up swimming a few lines (unfortunately there were some hairs in the pool that landed on my hands) and enjoying the hot Jacuzzi. Also, the sauna was a bit packed and therefore didn’t invite me at all. If the access would have been free of charge, I would still be disappointed by the service of the staff however would not mind at all but when they even charge and do not care about the facilities, it is quite hard for me not to blame about it. Being experienced in working at hotels, I tried to give them a second chance and dropped the Duty Manager an email. I actually got a nice reply from the Concierge the same night where she explained the issues and apologized for the inconveniences. Her main excuse has been the “competitive prices” which I cannot agree on since hotels as the Ritz Carlton and Grand Hyatt charge even lower rates and offer access to the pool for free.
No clue how their communication works, but after confirming in the email that any pool and Wi-Fi charges will be removed at check-out, when I was actually asking for the bill, all of the promised charges weren’t gone at all. So I had to discuss again with the front desk attendant to kindly remove the extra charges. She wanted to see the email and I could share it with her. Of course, this left frustration again since I only planned to provide the hotel with initial feedback and do not like to make much of a fuzz when unhappy with a hotel stay. Maybe my stay at Waldorf Astoria Berlin was just unfortunate and they would normally perform differently, however, I prefer other hotels in Berlin where I know what I get for the price I pay. As a lover of a pool after an exhausting day, there is no way I follow a trend where the hotel provides the pool at an extra charge, it goes without saying that a pool is a facility that should come for free such as the fitness and Wi-Fi – it’s 2019 and even hotel managers should adapt to the travelers of tomorrow.
This is a mystery check, neither the hotel nor the management was aware of us staying at the property and therefore this is a pure hotel check without editorial purposes.