Yesterday we got back from a whirlwind trip to Berlin. The train ride over is 4.5 hours from us to Berlin (during which Mack was thankfully totally awesome — and I’ll be adding a few thoughts about how to keep your sanity on a long trip later this week) and we were actually in bed before 10pm both nights we were there. We were up at 6:30 and pounding the pavement early, looking at sights all over Berlin — and just kept going all day. So we were definitely exhausted. Plus all of us have a slight cold we’ve been fighting (yes, again — I just love having Mack in preschool…ugh) so that made us even more weary.
But this isn’t going to be a whole trip report of all we did in Berlin because we were so busy experiencing things that we forgot to photograph most of it — guess we’ll just have to go back soon! Instead, I’m going to tell you about the hotel we stayed in, The Grand Hotel Esplanade Berlin (you pronounce all the letters, so it sounds like ess-plan-ah-deh)
My Impressions of Grand Hotel Esplanade
When we pulled up to the hotel, I was a little apprehensive. They had their entry way completely under construction and it was a mess. And the back corner of the hotel kinda looked neglected as we drove by, which wasn’t a great sign. But once we walked into the lobby, it was an entirely different story. In fact, the hotel is really lovely and our room was fabulous. (And they were done with most of the construction in the entrance before we left).
Since we were traveling with Mack (but without Ayla — who apparently would have been welcome there for €25/night), we opted for a suite so we’d have some room to relax. The room was laid out like a loft, with a really interesting room divider to split off the living room area from the bedroom & bath — but if you’re lo0king for some privacy from your kids in the evenings, this room is a bit tricky.
As you can see in the photo below, the room is divided by a half wall with a somewhat sheer curtain on top. For the most part, this worked out really well because we could always hear Mack and know she wasn’t raiding the mini-bar. But once she’d passed out at night, we had to be a bit more quiet than usual since we definitely didn’t want to wake her up. Since we were also pretty wiped out, we usually fell asleep within 2 hours of her, so it wasn’t a huge deal. But it definitely wouldn’t have been practical to arrange a bit of mommy-daddy time in the big tub or anything.
The Grand Hotel Esplanade is a bit off the beaten path as far as hotels go. There’s not much happening around the hotel itself and you’ll need to travel with a cab or public transport to Potsdamer Platz (maybe 10 minutes by cab in traffic and about €9-10 cab fare with tip), Alexander Platz or any of the burroughs like Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg, Kreuzberg or Friedrichshain. I also didn’t notice too many restaurants in the area, but there is a taxi stand right outside the hotel so you can go anywhere you need to go for a relatively low price (compared to Frankfurt anyway).
When I wrote this post, I was completely uneducated about this area of Berlin and didn’t realize that the Grand Hotel Esplanade lays very close to the partying heart of Nollendorfplatz as well as the shopping mecca of KaDeWe, Europa center and it’s surrounding locations. The hotel is very centrally located and now that we live right down the street, I can see why they went for a spot like this. Read a full account of how wrong I was here.
The design elements in the hotel are really well thought out (I’m going to be posting more about those too) — and in fact I took a lot of inspiration about planning out closets and other storage space from here.
Not to mention that the place is just pretty to begin with. They’ve put lots of lighting in little spaces to draw attention to things and the whole room is just tied together really well.
The hotel is loaded with amenities and the rooms had lots of little things in case you forgot something. They really thought of almost everything, from shaving kits to toothbrushes to mini-sewing kits and bath crystals. The one thing I did find missing was a hair dryer (something I don’t use often anyway — but which you usually find in hotel rooms in Germany.)
Don’t forget your swimsuit because the Grand Hotel Esplanade also has an indoor pool and spa. We took a quick dip in the pool (which is heated but still a bit chilly) on Saturday afternoon and found it to be mostly empty. Do be careful around the edge of the pool though. It’s gets really slick when it’s wet and Mack fell a few times.
One big tip I’ll offer (which applies to most hotels) is stay away from the mini-bar if at all possible. In fact, if you feel you can’t control yourself (or your kids), have them empty it before you get there. When you’re talking about €6 for a small bottle of water, you definitely want to avoid those late night cravings. We brought our own drinks that we bought while we were walking around the shopping areas of Potsdamer Platz and a few snacks as well (not to mention Dunkin’ Donuts en masse.) We did order room service during our second night there, and the food was decent but bland, and not quite what I expected from such a nice hotel. And of course you pay extra to get the food delivered to your room. Drinks at Harry’s New York Bar were also pricey but stiff.
WiFi is available in your room for an extra €10 per day. And there was a DVD player & CD player in a room, with a limited selection of films & music to test out (which we didn’t).
Final Thoughts on the Grand Hotel Esplanade
All in all, we really enjoyed our time here and would definitely stay here again. The staff was extremely friendly and competent. We paid €180 per night for our huge room which was a fair price for this posh hotel experience. Despite the fact that it wasn’t right in the middle of where everything is going down, you can quickly, easily and cheaply get to the main parts of Berlin. If you’re looking to pamper yourself a little on your next trip to Berlin, you should definitely check out Grand Hotel Esplanade.
By the way, they insist that they offer the best prices on their rooms via their own website, so you’ll want to be sure to check out their specials if you plan to stay there.