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Why you should avoid brand new hotels – lessons from Hilton’s Hotel Reichshof, Hamburg

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On Sunday, I ran a review of the Hotel Reichshof in Hamburg, the first European member of Hilton’s new ‘Curio Collection’ of independent hotels.

The Hotel Reichshof itself, as you can see from the pictures in Sunday’s article, is very impressive and a great piece of art deco restoration.  The problems came with the operational side.  When you are putting together a new hotel, there is always pressure to open before you are fully ready – and that often leads to issues.

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This is the first room I had at the Hotel Reichshof.  This was a Hilton Gold upgrade from their entry level room which I had booked using ‘cash and points’:

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As you can see, it looks very pleasant.  The twin duvets on the bed is standard for a German hotel.  Except:

the telephone did not work

the air conditioning system appeared to work but did not actually emit any cool air

the coffee machine was an obscure Braun model using a type of pod I had never seen before.  Needless to say, no instructions were provided.  It turned out that the pods had to be used upside down which was far from clear.

no turndown service ever appeared

no newspaper was provided in the morning

the internet reception was appalling.  Not only was the signal bad (my iPhone and iPad struggled to connect at all, my laptop was OK) but the verification system does not work.  You type in your name and room number but get rejected.  The hotel KNEW this did not work but failed to tell me.  As soon as I went back down to reception to complain, they printed off a conference code which did work.  At the stroke of midnight, this code stopped working (I was still up working on HfP) and I had to go back to reception to get a new one.

I was also less than excited to see Holiday Inn Express-style toiletries, with a bottle of ‘all in one’ shower gel and shampoo bolted to the wall.  My wife would never let such stuff near her hair.

The failure of the aircon meant I needed to switch rooms – Germany has been exceptionally hot this Summer.  I got moved across to this junior suite:

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Again, it looks good although there was no view (the room looked onto some internal back walls).  My original room overlooked the street.

However, let’s take a closer look at the desk ….

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Yes, it has no chair.  A suite, with a desk, with essentially a footstool underneath it.  Who thought that was a good idea?  Luckily, I still had the key to my old room.  I carried the footstool down to the old room, let myself in, put it under the desk, wheeled out the chair and pushed it down the corridor to my new suite!

I can’t help thinking that this should not have been necessary.

The aircon did work in the suite but the internet was no better.

Breakfast the next morning was equally random.  The hotel had just opened and there were few guests.  The hotel had a choice – put out a full breakfast to show guests what you are offering, or put out a reduced spread on the basis that only a few rooms are occupied.  They went for the latter.  That was a mistake in my view.

(Admittedly, due to my Hilton Gold status, I didn’t pay for breakfast.  I am guessing that non-status guests were not getting it at a discount however.)

They also need to work on their English language newspaper selection:

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The sports section of USA Today does NOT really cut it with the modern business traveller, in my view …

To top it all, when I checked out, they attempted to charge me double because I had switched rooms.

I really wanted to like the Hotel Reichshof.  I’m sure, in six months, it will be a decent hotel and I would happily go again.  However, at the moment, it is a bit of a shambles.  If you are paying cash, as opposed to a redemption, then you will have a less chaotic stay elsewhere.

You can find out more about the hotel, and book, on this page of the Hilton website.

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Comments (59)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Nick Burch says:

    Was the problematic coffee machine one with pods in a half-donut shape? I’ve found those in quite a few hotels in Germany, some with instructions that help me use them, some without which leave me annoyed for several minutes until I can remember the trick. The one time I complained about the lack of instructions, the hotel staff seemed surprised as they thought everyone knew how to use that style as it was so common!

    What’s common in one culture (eg single duvets on a double bed) is often forgotten to be utterly baffling in others. A small town german guesthouse I’d let off with that, a shiny new Hilton family hotel less so…

    • Rob says:

      Yes, that’s the one – the Braun machines.

      I never actually complained about the duvets – I was simply pointing it out for any readers who may have found the picture odd. I have a German wife, I am fully experience in the ways of German hotel bedding!

      • Nick Burch says:

        Sorry, badly written, I wasn’t complaining about duvets either, just giving it as an example of something cultural that can baffle a first time visitor from abroad, but not the hotel. The coffee machine I do complain about!

        Saunas in German hotels is another one – bathing suits optional / required / forbidden is something as a guest you want to be able to check from your room, before you head down. Never in the guest information, often not even mentioned at the sauna, at least not in English/French/Spanish. Foreign guests are the most likely to get this wrong, but the rules on that seem to be only in German, if posted at all…

  • CV3V says:

    I’d suggest by way of a comparison you have a look at LoyaltyLobby, most of the actual journalistic articles, as opposed to listing airilne and hotel promos, seem to consist of moaning about all sorts of things which frankly are a waste of time. They even have ‘Whine Wednesdays’ and ‘Compensation Clinic’. One of the video reviews shows the author making a very bitter complaint/attack to the young hotel staff in China for failing to bring something to his room.

    • Chris says:

      I agree. Loyalty Lobby’s compensation clinic is good when a reader has emailed in about an issue they have had, however when it is John and Sebastian’s own experiences it is absurd at times.

      If the two of them weren’t bloggers on a well known site they would probably have been made persona non-grata a while back for some of the nonsense they seek compensation for.

  • Lady London says:

    Fawlty Towers.

    In my early days of staying in hotels pre-internet, I had quite a few hotels where lots of these things would happen sometimes all at once.

    All I can say is thank heavens we have the internet now to guide people who are just starting out on new types of travel experiences. Thanks for sharing Rob.

    On the plus side I’ve stayed at a few hotels over the years that were soft launching and often the rates are exceedingly low, with perhaps only a restaurant not open yet or some other amenity not quite ready. But generally a soft launch is well worth looking at due to price and IME most things you need, actually working. Rob’s post just points out the occasional flip side. Thanks Rob.

  • Neil says:

    Well I’ve certainly enjoyed the ‘drama’ of this topic, keeps the site interesting )

    • Rob says:

      And there was me thinking it would a little-read space-filler on a quiet day which I could knock out in 10 minutes 🙂

  • heydudes says:

    There’s not actually anything very aggressive in Robbo’s post (other than the not-very-idiomatic English).

    Last line leaves something to be desired but he is after all a German defending a great German hotel.

    • Brian says:

      Yep, it’s no more aggressive than some of the responses to it! People on here should relax – it’s Rob’s blog so he can write what he wants, and a review is always going to be subjective anyway. Equally, other readers defending him need to realise that a) he can look after himself, b) it’s a blog with a comments section, so comments are expected and why should they all be complimentary? and c) it’s a professional blog which, because it’s good, is widely-read and provides Rob with the means to lead a luxury lifestyle and helps give him enough points to stay in hotels for free for the rest of his life, as he puts it. Some readers seem to think that he’s doing it all as a favour for us and so therefore any criticism is sacrilege. Gentlemen, it’s his JOB and he gets well-paid for it, and rightly so.

      • Rob says:

        All feedback welcome. If you can take the time to make it, I will take the time to read it.

  • Anthony Dunn says:

    Oh dear, this review almost echoes my last experience at the Beyangol Hotel in Ulaanbaatar with the addition of having my bed literally collapse beneath me. But the Mongolians fix things with such charm, it’s hard to get too annoyed!

  • M Dabbagh says:

    Regarding the inefficient Air Conditioning system. It appears that this is a common in Hamburg. I just completed a seamy 8 night stay at the Marriott Hamburg in one of their Jr Suiets (the highest room category). The AC didn’t seem to function and no one bothered about and front desk have the excuse of “the weather usually cold in summer”. There wa not even attempt to fix it (they probably know it’s not going to work) or even have the ceurteousy to follow up to check if it alright. I have written to them about it after my stay and got the typical “Thank you for pointing that out!”
    I truly believe it’s an under investment (machine upgrade is over due) or energy efficiency setting of the AC.

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