Real Beauty Is on the Inside: A Review of the Grand Hyatt Berlin
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To The Point
The Grand Hyatt is one of the more secluded and unassuming luxury hotel options in Berlin. Pros: A beautiful interior, comfortable rooms, great check-in experience and interesting cocktails. Cons: The exterior is far from luxurious and food and beverage service failures at every turn.
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
I traveled to Berlin, Germany recently with other members of the TPG team to cover ITB, the world’s biggest travel expo. We went all out during the week trying to get to as many of the 10,000 stalls as we could, but when the work was finished, I extended the trip to spend the weekend in one of my favorite cities in Europe. I’d stayed previously at more contemporary hotels in Berlin like Moxy, a millennial-focused Marriott brand. That was a lot of fun for a social weekend, but this time I was looking forward to quiet downtime in a luxurious hotel.
Berlin is an inexpensive city for hotels by western European standards, even at the five-star level. A king-bed room at the Grand Hyatt Berlin was showing at $183 per night. You can generally expect room rates to hover around this level in the off season for European tourism, but they’ll go up to about $250-$300 per night in the summer. If you’d prefer to pay with points, you’ll need 15,000 per night for this Category 4 property. Hyatt points are especially easy to come by, considering the World of Hyatt program is a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, meaning that just by signing up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card , you could earn four nights at this property, thanks to the card’s 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening. Plus earn a $50 statement credit on grocery purchases in the first year of account opening.
Based on TPG‘s current valuation of Hyatt points, it made sense to pay the cash price instead. As I don’t have any elite Hyatt status, I booked through Hotels.com to receive two nights toward my free night in its Hotels.com Rewards program. I paid for this using a Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, which earns 10 miles per dollar spent with Hotels.com (when booked and paid via Hotels.com Venture through Jan. 31, 2020). Since the free night is based on the average price of the 10 nights, when stacked with the 10x miles from the Venture Rewards, it effectively gave us a 20% return on the reservation.
The Grand Hyatt Berlin is located in Potsdamer Platz, a short walk from the local U and S train stations. There are plenty of shops in the area, though most of them were closed the day I checked in because it was International Women’s Day, a public holiday.
There is also a large park nearby, though the rain and strong winds I encountered for most of the weekend kept me indoors.
The hotel is located a few blocks away from the main shopping and transport areas, which meant the hotel area was much quieter.
The exterior of the hotel was my least favorite part of the entire experience. While the architecture was typical for Berlin, it certainly wasn’t typical for a five-star hotel and could have easily passed for an Ibis or Holiday Inn Express. I had to double-check my map when I arrived to make sure I was in the right place.
The building is triangular with two main entrances. There was a doorman at one entrance but he seemed to be managing valet parking rather than assisting guests on foot. There was no offer to help with my luggage (nor did I see any other porters or a concierge helping with luggage).
I arrived around 3:30pm for check-in. The lobby was far more impressive than the drab exterior and I loved the series of screens with slowly moving images of Berlin.
I was quickly helped by a very friendly and professional check-in agent, who described some of the amenities of the hotel, including the pool, fitness club and restaurants.
I was assigned Room 647 on the sixth floor, a standard king room (as booked). The hallways were really dark but I loved the wide white doors.
As I walked in, there was a bathroom to the left with a wet room featuring both a soaking tub and shower. I expected this setup to cause water to fly everywhere but was pleasantly surprised with how dry and clean the area stayed when I showered.
There was also a separate toilet and next to it a wardrobe with robes and slippers.
The bathroom had a small television that streamed whatever was playing on the main TV. I initially thought this was a silly gimmick but appreciated it when watching BBC News and getting ready at the same time.
I was surprised to see an armchair placed in the middle of the room facing the television when I walked in. I’m still uncertain if housekeeping intentionally placed it there or if the previous guest had done so and housekeeping had not moved it back.
It gave me the feeling of being in someone else’s room and I actually checked the room to ensure I hadn’t been sent to the wrong one. I quickly moved the armchair out of the way.
The room had a very comfortable king-size bed, though it would have looked more plush if the flat, soft pillows had been upright on entry.
I liked the oversize furniture, especially the chunky bedside table, but the furniture arrangement wasn’t very practical with a large drawer opening underneath the glass-topped table next to it.
There were controls next to the bed for the blackout shades, which were great for sleeping in after a busy week. I slept like a baby both nights.
The wood finishes in much of the room looked luxurious but they were starting to show their age — some were a little scuffed.
I found the mini-bar price list long before I managed to locate the actual mini-bar fridge, which was discreetly hidden in a wall in the entrance hallway.
In the cupboard between the bathroom and hallway there was a basic kettle, glasses, tea cups, tea and coffee. A five-star property should have some sort of Nespresso/pod machine instead.
There was a huge 55-inch flat-screen television.
My room faced the hotel’s internal courtyard.
Food and Beverage
The Grand Hyatt Berlin has two bars, Vox Bar and Jamboree, and two restaurants, Vox Restaurant and Tizian. My first night, I had dinner at Tizian, which opens onto the lobby and has a lovely fireplace and very relaxed feel.
The menu is casual with familiar favorites and comfort food like burgers, club sandwiches and pasta.
The restaurant wasn’t busy on a Friday evening and was well staffed, but I experienced the first of endless service slips in the food and beverage service. I waited quite some time to be seated while numerous wait staff walked past, looked at me and kept walking.
A waiter eventually escorted me to a table. I told him I was dining solo and despite walking past several vacant small tables set for one or two diners, he took me to a huge table set for four and then ceremoniously removed the other three table settings.
He eventually came back with a menu that he flung onto the table without stopping or speaking.
I ordered the gnocchi and a glass of riesling. Both were excellent and, at €23 total, I thought quite reasonably priced.
The next morning I headed to Vox for a buffet breakfast. The restaurant was pretty busy for a Saturday morning and had a great range of hot and cold dishes.
There was complimentary sparkling wine with freshly squeezed juices to make mimosas as well as “wellness drinks,” which tasted a little like iced tea (I wasn’t a fan).
I was offered fresh coffee and and an omelet when I sat down. I loved the open kitchen design.
But halfway through my breakfast I walked up to the buffet to get another item and returned to find my table completely cleared — gone were my uneaten plate of food and my half-drunk cappuccino, as well as all cutlery and condiments.
As I looked around for help, the manager on duty immediately realized what had happened and apologized profusely, quickly resetting the table and bringing me a replacement coffee. I understand that some guests leave unfinished plates after breakfast but I didn’t leave the waitstaff’s eyesight before they decided to clear everything from my table.
That evening I returned to Vox and was pleased to see that it had been rearranged into a really cozy, moody and sophisticated dining room.
The dinner menu has a strong Japanese influence, with several sushi chefs on hand. My partner joined me for dinner, and we were seated near the completely open kitchen. I enjoyed watching the chefs working in harmony, delivering dishes in a calm, efficient and professional manner.
We were provided with menus but once again had to wait a very long time to order although restaurant was only one-third full and well staffed.
First up was a complimentary amuse bouche of chicken parfait with raspberry and pea purees and a bread crisp — a nice start to the meal.
We shared a beef tartare for an appetizer, which arrived in a giant bowl. This is one of our favorite dishes; we seek it out every time we visit France. This version was excellent.
We were also served complimentary bread with a wasabi mayonnaise spread — not really the sort of thing I would think to slather onto bread.
I ordered the vegetable sushi for something a bit different as my main course and my partner ordered the dim sum and bao bun.
The waiter changed our cutlery after we ordered and we could instantly tell she had the two place settings mixed up — I received a knife and fork for my sushi while he received a pair of chopsticks. This might sound like nit-picking, but when entrees start at $34 and head up from there, you would expect the cutlery would at least be set properly.
When the entrees arrived, the waiters went by the cutlery and placed the dishes in the incorrect places. We corrected them and they realised the issue and reset the table properly. Both entrees were delicious — the dim sum was presented absolutely beautifully and I really enjoyed my vegetarian sushi for something a bit different.
After dinner we headed next door to Vox Bar, the main cocktail bar in the hotel. We did look into Jamboree Bar, which featured a DJ playing heaving, loud electronic dance music that left me wondering who would go there in a five-star hotel, in a city with one of the greatest underground clubbing and music scenes in the world.
We found seats in the bar and were provided with menus which had a great range of really interesting options as well as flights of whisky tastings. Once again, we had to wait a very long time to be served. I ordered a Sweet Harmony cocktail, which tasted mainly of boiling hot alcohol and was not very pleasant, but I did appreciate the fun way in which the cocktails were presented.
The pool, spa and fitness center are located on the top floor and have great views over Berlin.
The pool was absolutely jammed when I first visited on Friday late afternoon, but was almost empty when I returned on Saturday morning (and was able to take these photos).
The gym was small but well-equipped.
I didn’t indulge in any spa services but the staff member on the reception desk was friendly. I noticed a full-size solarium sun bed in one of the treatment rooms.
Once you get past the drab exterior, the Grand Hyatt Berlin is a beautiful property inside. The lobby and the rooms are well appointed and comfortable. Each restaurant and bar had excellent, interesting food and beverage options — though they were consistently undercut by service failures that could easily be rectified with better training and management. All in all, this property is a great value — you certainly get luxe accommodations at a relatively cheap price. I would certainly stay at this property again the next time in Berlin, though I hope by then the hotel will have had a chance to work out some of the problems with the service.
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