Headquartered in Stockholm, Scandic Hotels operates about 160 properties across Scandinavia and Northern Europe. The Berlin edition opened two years ago, the group’s second property in Germany (Scandic Lubeck was the first, and a Hamburg hotel opened in June).
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
The four-star property has a strong eco-friendly focus. A new build, situated right in the city centre, the hotel is powered entirely by renewable energy from Norwegian hydroelectric power stations, and 80 per cent of the furnishings are made from recycled or recyclable materials. The contemporary, Scandi-chic décor is centred around the four seasons, which I was told, aims to remind guests of the presence of the natural world and encourage green thinking (the lift even plays bird sounds.)
Service at check-in was excellent. There is a lobby shop selling refreshments (including freshly baked pretzels), amenities and souvenirs – realising I was short of time, staff assured me it was fine to take what I needed and pay later, which was much appreciated.
WHERE IS IT?
Right next to Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Park U-bahn station – the U2 line takes you directly to Stadtmitte and Alexanderplatz. It’s a 20-minute drive from Berlin Tegel, a 15-minute walk from Potsdamer Platz and a 20-minute stroll from Brandenburg Gate.
I stayed in a Standard room on the eighth (top) floor (Standard rooms range from 21 sqm-30 sqm). It had a wintery alpine theme, with design features such as wooden walls painted cream, snowflake patterns on the curtains and a photo-print of a snow-covered tree branch on a translucent window that separated the bathroom from the bedroom. The space had a contemporary, stylish feel, and I felt I actually wanted to spend time there, rather than just using it as a place to sleep.
The king-size bed felt really wide, and was extremely comfortable. There was a plug socket to one side, and reading lamps on both. Furniture was stylish and practical – beside the French windows was a grey woollen rug, a black coffee table and a chair upholstered in a soft grey fabric with cushions in a bold, blue, brown and white print, which fitted the seasonal theme.
Opposite the bed was rather small desk with three European plug sockets – I borrowed a UK adaptor from reception. Above was an LG flatscreen TV and rather than overhead lighting, there were lamps around the room, most of which had to be turned off manually. Guests must place their room key in the slot near the main door in order to turn on the electricity in the room – while I’m all for saving the environment, there were times where I would return at night to a dark room and have to hold the door open to let light in from the hallway in order to find this slot, and times where I would forget and just let the door close, leaving me in darkness. The waste bin is divided into sections for different materials to encourage recycling.
The attractive bathroom had a sliding door with no lock, a charcoal grey mosaic floor, a shower over the bath and a vanity mirror. Face Stockholm toiletries were stored in large bottles with pump dispensers rather than in mini bottles, another eco-friendly touch. A washing line hung above the bath for drying towels, and a hairdryer was connected to the wall.
Other in-room amenities included tea-and coffee-making facilities, a free minibar (stocked with red wine, white wine, beers, cola and juices) an iron and an ironing board, a luggage rack and a laptop safe. There was a light wooden storage unit and wardrobe that matched the floor. Wifi is free throughout the hotel (guests access it by logging in with their name and room number).
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
The expansive restaurant on the third floor is beside the meeting spaces. Breakfast is served in the main section, while the hotel bar is the setting for lunch and dinner. The former has a “Scandinavian summer” theme, with greenery on the walls and a lime green and white colour scheme. A busy buffet breakfast was taking place when I was there – there was clearly a group about to use the meeting facilities, and it took me a while to find a seat.
There was a great selection of hot and cold food, plus self-service coffee stations. The hotel’s home-made honey was also available – it has rooftop beehives that house more than 30,000 bees. Cutlery, croquery and napkins are left by the buffet stations so that guests collect what they need rather than use what’s in front of them – another method of cutting back waste and reducing the water used for washing up.
I dined in the chic bar one evening. It had a warm atmosphere that was created by the design – the mood-lit walls glowed from yellow to red, and were adorned with glass moose. There was a minimalist open fire in the comfy bar area by the window wall, outside of which was an outdoor terrace. There were several cushioned booths and alcoves with scattered tealights, and it was a rather romantic setting for an intimate dinner, although many of us were dining alone.
There was a glass-walled kids corner with games and toys, not far from the long curvy bar. The cuisine was mainly international with Scandinavian influences, and there was an “international tapas” section of the menu. I enjoyed a hearty meal of schweiner schnitzel and fries with a side salad, which was very satisfying. Guests can also buy sandwiches, soups, salads and cakes from the lobby bar.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES
The eco-friendliness of the hotel extends to its meeting spaces – from the motion sensor lights to the prohibition of plastic water bottles. The thoughtfully designed conference lobby, which holds 180 people, transmits daylight to the other meeting rooms via translucent walls adorned with leaf patterns. The largest space is the green-carpeted Aurora Borealis, which can host 600 people theatre-style, is divisible by three, and has an outdoor terrace running along one side.
The other 16 rooms (named after wild animals) hold 15-100 people theatre-style in each. Fair trade coffee and snacks prepared from Jamie Oliver recipes are constantly available in the conference lobby, meaning guests can enjoy these when they reach a natural break rather than at designated times. There’s also a football table for downtime between meetings.
The small top-floor gym has a sauna room and steam room as well as Technogym equipment – it’s open from 6am-10pm. There is no spa.
An innovatively designed property with a welcoming feel and great service. I was also impressed with the efforts made to be more eco friendly.
HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 563 rooms and suites.
ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The interesting design features and the wide bed.
PRICE Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in September started from €89 for a Standard room.
CONTACT Scandic Potsdamer Platz, Berlin, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19; tel +49 307 007 790; scandichotels.com/berlin