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American Women's Club of Hamburg

How to Pick Your Berlin Hotel for the Festival

For years I expected on that my hotel The Intermezzo Frauen Hotel would always be there for me but two years ago it was suddenly not there anymore despite its friendly staff, great location and reasonable price.  Since then I scramble every year to find a place to stay. Last year I stayed in a small Russian-owned hotel that was completely booked out this year and, as I saw the festival coming quickly upon me, I knew I had to find a place to stay.  Choosing a hotel is not such an easy matter and there are several criteria that have to be in place in order for it to be even considered.  First is location – it needs either to be in the vicinity of the festival or at a subway or bus station that gets me quickly to the festival center both early in the morning and late night.  We are lucky with today’s technology with the internet; it makes life easier.
Hotel Number I
My first hotel was Hotel am Spittelmarkt which is linked to the Best Western. It was conveniently located on the U-bahn Spittelmarkt station. It was a modern building with a friendly staff and nice beds. They also had the one euro locker in the basement for your luggage. Breakfast is also in the basement and the food was average which was a buffet. The maids were strange. Every day, I came back to a hot room because someone turned up the bathroom heat. My paperwork always ended up on the floor and my things were moved. Luckily nothing was stolen but it was a bit disconcerting to say the least.  The price was a special! The first night it was 75 euros, second night 67 euros and the last night was 52 euros with breakfast costing 10 euros each time. I kept on wondering, if I stayed a while, would I be living there for free. In the end I had spent 230 euros for those nights.
Hotel Number II
My next hotel was nine blocks away from the festival center by foot. That was actually refreshing since I spent most of the day sitting and needed to have a bit of exercise. The B&B hotel is also a new chain hotel. The bedroom had cute paintings on the wall and a nicely designed bathroom. The bed was a bit too hard for me but was livable. The breakfast was on the ground floor so it was light and friendly. The buffet was smaller than that at the Best Western but was better quality. The staff was friendly and they personally took care of your luggage which felt safer than the locker in the basement.  The only thing that was disconcerting was there was a roof top right outside my window so someone could easily break in if they wanted to. The area also had some strip tease shows and casinos which seem to have gone out of business. Although the area is changing since there are museums located two blocks down, I did see prostitution there at night as I returned to my hotel so for a woman alone it may not be the best answer. The room cost 64 euros per night and breakfast was 7, 50 euros, making this hotel only a little bit cheaper than the first hotel.
Hotel Number III
The Ibis hotel is located directly in Berlin’s center. The location is great for checking out Berlin but is far away from the festival’s center. But since it was Valentine’s Day we decided on a bit more expensive room and a hip breakfast café full of young people. This also turns out to be a great spot to see other events on the festival side lines such as Berlinale Goes Kiez. This includes small cinemas such as the Sputnik Kino and the Eiszeit Kino which introduces you to a new cultural experience in a deferent area of Berlin. We started off with a romantic Japanese meal where two other families were sitting at our table. We had left overs on our plate and the man next to us asked if he could eat the last of our food, and before you know it vanished before our eyes. He wasn’t even a homeless man. We laughed and said, “Better to recycle than having it land in the trash.”  Next we headed to the Hackesche höfe to see a film but ended up in a Electric Monster sculpture show that had loud and crazy music in an gallery beneath the street. The French man who was the creator of these creatures said they were made for films and it was the first time ever that they were all together for an exhibition. It was truly a unique experience. Berlin is a place that has an ongoing flow of cultural activity, which is active deep into the night. So pick your hotel to fit your needs. Berlin is a must see for any tourist and is guaranteed to be a different experience every time.

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