WHAT'S IT LIKE? A solidly business-oriented hotel with a decidedly utilitarian design and impeccable service. Arriving in Berlin for a two-night stay I wanted to drop my bags at the hotel early on the first morning and then head off for a day’s work. Despite it being a busy morning, with a lot of people checking out, I was quickly attended to, and in fact despite it being well before official check in (2pm), staff tried to find a vacant room for me until I told them I wouldn’t be returning until later and was happy to have my allotted room. It was around 10pm that evening when I made it back but, having shown proof of identity, I quickly picked up my key card, used that same key card to access the room floors (security here is good) and within 90 seconds of getting into my room my bags had arrived, after being held downstairs for the day. In general, the staff were excellent and helpful, all spoke good English, and they were able to advise me on the quickest routes each morning for getting to various places in the city centre.
WHERE IS IT? On the south side of Gendarmenmarkt Platz, on Mohrenstrasse in Mitte. The Stadtmitte U-Bahn station is right outside the front door, and Unter den Linden a five-minute walk away.
HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 589 rooms, which come in several categories, with views out over surrounding streets and the Gendarmenmarkt Platz at the front of the hotel. There are also 13 junior suites, eight corner suites, five duplex suites (the two floors are connected by a spiral staircase) and the Presidential Suite with 200sqm of space and a sauna for four people. There is also a Hilton Executive Floor and Lounge with express check in and out, secretarial support and complimentary breakfast, beverages and snacks.
ROOM FACILITIES: Although surrounding roads are reasonably busy, the sound proofing is good, so ask for rooms overlooking the square. My room was comfortable and well maintained, with the bathroom appearing almost brand new. The room had air conditioning, colour television and VCR, radios and loudspeakers in the bathrooms (why does anyone think these are a good idea?). Internet access was available via a complicated contraption which meant having to plug both an internet cable and a USB cable into my laptop. This internet access was very fast, but also expensive: E23 (US$32) for 24 hours, although apparently this is average for reasonable-speed access in Berlin.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS: A large selection, including the 120-seat Trader Vic’s, the Italian Ristorante Fellini (both evening only) and Restaurant Beletage for the breakfast buffet and all-day dining.
BUSINESS FACILITIES: The business centre is on the first floor and is open 7am to 7pm. There are 16 meeting rooms with capacities up to 500 in the ballroom, all with wireless internet access.
LEISURE FACILITIES: There’s a good-size gym on the first floor, open 24 hours and free to guests, along with an indoor swimming pool (13m by 5.5m).
PRICE: Flexible rates, throughout the week, for a stay in mid-June start from E145 (US$206), room only.
VERDICT: Very good. Visitors are spoiled in Berlin, which has a huge range of accommodation at extremely competitive prices, but the Hilton has a great location and offers well thought-out amenities for business travellers.
CONTACT: Mohrenstrasse 30, 10117 Berlin, Germany, tel 49 302 0230, www.hilton.com