General information and Location
Radisson Blu Berlin is located in eastern Berlin, barely five minutes walk from Alexanderplatz and next door to the Spree River and the beautiful Berliner Dom cathedral. A short walk away you will also find Hackesche Markt.
The hotel is an attraction in itself as in the lobby one finds the ‘AquaDom’, the world’s largest cylindrical aquarium. The AquaDom was opened in 2004 and cost a cool €12.8 million to build. The aquarium is 25 metres high, 11 metres in diameter and has an elevator that goes straight up through the middle. The tank holds one million gallons of water and has 1,500 fish of 50 different species. Cleaning the aquarium and feeding the fish takes the help of 3-4 divers who maintain the tank every day. During the evening the aquarium is illuminated, creating a very effective atmosphere in the lobby and the large atrium.
The current hotel building is not more than a decade old, but there has been a hotel on the site since the 70th century. Once called the Palast Hotel, it was one of a handful of hotels in the chain, Inter Hotel, which foreigners had to stay at when visiting East Berlin. Payment in western currency was a requirement and it is rumoured that there was an occasional hidden microphone to keep track of what the foreign guests were talking about. After the fall of the wall, the hotel was taken over by Radisson, and in 2000 they took the decision to demolish the old hotel building and build the hotel again, with a more contemporary design.
The hotel has 427 rooms and suites divided into standard rooms, business class rooms, junior suites and one signature suite, the Nicolai Suite.
I had booked a standard room and was assigned a room on the first floor with a somewhat uninspiring view of the hotel entrance and the street outside. This was my second stay at the Radisson Berlin. During my first visit, the hotel was fully booked and I was upgraded to a junior suite on the top floor, a corner suite with a great view of the river and the Cathedral through large panoramic windows, a view that was a pure pleasure in the evening when everything was lit up in front of the bed. Eight years later, the hotel is still very good but the rooms do not feel quite as new and fresh as they did then. Although the room category and view certainly has an impact on the experience.
The room was quite large at 27 square metres, and included a double bed, work area, lounge chair and table, a large closet, a flat screen TV and a minibar. Next to the entrance there was a bathroom with bath, toilet and sink. There was also a kettle in the room for coffee and tea.
All rooms are arranged in a ring around the atrium and, depending on which side of the hallway you live, you either have views of the atrium or the outside of the hotel. What view you prefer is, of course, individual, but looking out over the Berliner Dom is never not appreciated.
Food and drink
The hotel has a good restaurant, Restaurant HEat, as well as a bar, Atrium Bar, located on the ground floor of the large atrium. In HEat they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, while in the Atrium Bar one can order drinks and light bar food.
I tested the atrium bar in the evening and ordered a hamburger and drink. The bar itself is simple but the atmosphere is very pleasant, the illuminated aquarium and low music are extremely tranquil.
We visited HEat the following morning for breakfast, which consisted of an extensive buffet which offered good quality compared to other Radisson hotels. A chef was present who made omelettes to order with optional ingredients. Slightly unusual breakfast dishes like rice pudding were also on offer from the buffet. During the summer, when it is hot outside, there is also a large outdoor terrace where you can eat. This terrace actually has more seating than the indoor restaurant.
In the basement you find the spa, which is surprisingly good. It includes three different saunas, a relaxation room with lounge chairs, rainbow showers and a pool, all positioned around a hammam-style room which offers foot baths. There is a locker room men and women and towels and bathrobes are available at the front desk. The spa also offers massages and treatments for a fee.
Next door to the spa is the hotel’s gym, which is open around the clock. The gym, however, is not very large for a hotel with over 400 rooms. When we made a visit, at 7 o’clock in the morning, it was nearly full. The gym offered the usual weights and machines.
In the lobby there is also a small kiosk with newspapers, postcards, chocolates and souvenirs. The hotel has 15 meeting and conference rooms.
Free WiFi was available, login with name and room number. The connection worked perfectly okay with an acceptable speed.
Service and status benefits
Friendly service in the reception, bar, restaurant and spa, nothing whatsoever to complain about. A big event in Berlin at the time meant that the hotel was almost full and the staff had a lot to do.
The hotel is not as new and fresh as it was when it opened ten years ago, but is still a wonderful hotel. It is hard not to be impressed by the AquaDom and the well-designed atrium, among the first things you see when you come in. Otherwise, there is not much missing, it is a very good hotel.