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My review of the excellent Berlin Marriott, using my new free Marriott Gold status

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This is my review of the Berlin Marriott hotel and my experience there as a new Marriott Rewards Gold member.

The hotel website is here.

It is now 18 months since Marriott allowed you to status match from Starwood Preferred Guest and vice versa.  This followed the purchase of Starwood by Marriott back in 2015.

This was an astonishingly good result for American Express Platinum holders who get free Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status.

Suddenly, overnight, we all got Marriott Rewards Gold.  And Marriott Rewards Gold is good.

The reason it is good is that Marriott Rewards Gold is very tough to earn.  You can earn top tier status in some hotel programmes for fewer nights than you need to earn mid-tier Marriott Gold.  The standard qualification is 50 nights which I’m sure you’ll agree is aggressive for ‘mid tier’ status.

Because it is tough to earn, the benefits – at the right hotels – are worth having:

25% bonus points

high speed internet access

room upgrade

guaranteed 4pm check-out (except at resort and convention hotels)

guaranteed lounge access, or free continental breakfast if no lounge is available (except at resort properties)

My only Marriott stay last year was at the JW Marriott in Venice which I reviewed on a previous visit in 2016.  Unfortunately this shows Marriott Rewards at its worst.  The Venice hotel is classed as a ‘resort’ and therefore the breakfast and late check-out benefits don’t apply.  Venice is also very unwilling to give free upgrades, albeit they are very keen to sell you one.  This was frustrating, especially given our daily breakfast bill for four people which would otherwise have been comped.

Last week, at the Berlin Marriott hotel, I finally put my Marriott Rewards Gold status to proper use.  I was on a rewards stay as cash rates were through the roof due to the ITB travel show, which is also why I was there.  My Gold card got me access to the excellent executive lounge and the 2.30pm late check-out I needed to meet my 5pm flight.

My review of the Berlin Marriott hotel

This is not a full review because I had a very busy schedule and didn’t see much of it.  I should say, though, that Berlin Marriott is – without a doubt – the poshest Marriott hotel I have ever stayed at.  No contest.

It is directly behind The Ritz-Carlton in Potsdamer Platz, also operated by Marriott.  I have stayed at The Ritz-Carlton twice in the past but, due to the modern decor, I actually preferred the Marriott.

Berlin Marriott review

Taxis are cheap in Berlin and you won’t pay more than €25 from Tegel Airport.  There is no direct subway line so a taxi is the best option unless you want to try the bus network.

Getting around from the Berlin Marriott is a dream.  Many places are walkable and you have the S-Bahn, U-Bahn and Potsdamer Platz mainline trains literally outside the door.  As an entirely new-build office and entertainment area post 1989 you are surrounded by shops and restaurants.  It has always been my preferred area to stay (I can also recommend the Grand Hyatt) and if you want historical connections, the wall used to run directly through the hotel site.

My room

I didn’t get the room originally blocked for me due to arriving early so I don’t know if I was meant to be upgraded or not.  I was offered a room ‘now’ or a better room ‘later’ and I went for ‘now’.  I was so pleased with what I got that I didn’t bother trying to swap.  As none of the website pictures look like my room, it is difficult to tell if I stayed in the entry level Deluxe I booked or got upgraded to a (3 sq m larger) Superior.

I was on the 10th floor which is also where the lounge is, which was very handy.  Here is the view down into the lobby!

Berlin Marriott lobby review

There was something very comforting about this hotel.  It is difficult to put my finger on exactly why, but everything clicked.  My room was suitably large and well furnished, the staff were welcoming, the public areas were impressive and the executive lounge clearly was not running under budgetary constraints!

Berlin Marriott review bedroom

I think one important aspect was that, whilst most rectangular hotel rooms have the windows on the short end, Berlin Marriott – at least in my room – has windows along the long side.  This means that the room is filled with light and you are looking out when you sit on the bed.

Berlin Marriott review bedroom

There was a decent sized desk as you can see in the first picture.  As is usual with European hotels there was no overhead lighting so you had to do what you could with the desk, bed, floor and reading lamps.

Berlin Marriott review bathroom

Toiletries were from Acca Kappa which is a cut above average.  The bathroom was very spacious – there was no bath but the shower was huge and had rainfall and standard options.  It was only a single sink which was fine for me on my own but perhaps a curious ommission.

Berlin Marriott review view

The view from the window was nothing exciting but not ugly either.

The Berlin Marriott executive lounge

This is how the lounge works.  These are very impressive opening hours compared to most hotel lounges:

  • Lounge opens at 6.00
  • Breakfast from 6.30 to 11.00 (7.00 to 11.00 at weekends)
  • Sweet snacks from 12.00 to 17.00
  • Hot and cold buffet from 17.30 to 20.30 (wine, prosecco and cheese available until 23.00)
  • Lounge closes at midnight

Children are allowed but under 14’s must be accompanied by an adult.  You cannot opt for breakfast in the restaurant instead of using the lounge – you will be charged the €32 breakfast fee if you do.

Berlin Marriott executive lounge

It is a large space – pictured below is another seating area not shown in the main picture.  I don’t think these pictures do full justice to how pleasant I found it.

Berlin Marriott executive lounge review

Here are some of the cold options available in the evening.  There are also a lot of desserts, not pictured.

Berlin Marriott executive lounge food

There are also four hot items, which seem to be a soup, a pasta option, a meat option and a potato variant.

Berlin Marriott executive lounge hot food review

Wine and prosecco is freely available and there is a fridge of beer and soft drinks too:

Berlin Marriott executive lounge drinks review

It was all very impressive and I was perfectly happy to eat here on both evenings.  There was enough available to constitute a full meal.  Breakfast was also good with various hot items alongside the usual pastries, cereals, juices etc.

The staff were excellent, especially after I managed to smash my prosecco glass …….

Leisure options

There is a swimming pool which I didn’t use but which looks good.  It is open from 6am to 11pm so you really have no excuse as long as you brought your costume.  This is a stock photo:

Berlin Marriott pool review

Conclusion

The Berlin Marriott offers a relaxing upmarket environment with no weak links.  I would have swapped the pile of USA Today in the lounge for The (London) Times (The New York Times was also available) but that is the full extent of my criticism over two nights.

If every Marriott-branded hotel was as good as this they would be unstoppable.  The truth is that Berlin is probably in the top five globally.

I strongly recommend the Berlin Marriott, especially if you now have a Marriott Rewards Gold card.  It is a lovely hotel in a great location and guaranteed access to the excellent executive lounge is the icing on the strudel.

If you don’t have Marriott Rewards Gold but would like it, I recommend getting an American Express Platinum charge card for a few months.  You can cancel at any point for a pro-rata fee refund and your hotel statuses will be retained until the end of your membership year.  Once your Starwood Preferred Guest Gold membership is active, you can do an instant match online to Marriott Rewards Gold.  You will also get Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold, Melia Rewards Gold and Shangri-La Jade status.  My full review of Amex Platinum is here.

The Berlin Marriott hotel website is here if you want to find out more.

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. I guess I’m the only one looking at those food pictures and shouting ‘labels! Where are the labels?! I can’t eat it if I don’t know what’s in it!’

    Am I just spoiled by the UK being so health and safety conscious? I had trouble finding out what I could eat in the IC Sydney lounge too.

    • @Kathy – did you enjoy your travels down under! Hope it worth all the effort of getting your tickets and upgrades! On countdown to our trip down under – 7 wks and counting!

      • Yes, very much enjoyed it! Had lovely flights – my first time in Cathay J and it really does blow BA Club out of the water! I even found my long flight home in a worst-choice middle-pair Club seat comfortable (though I bet the guy I kept having to step over to get out wished I had the aisle instead). I was a bit worried when I couldn’t check-in online for SYD-LHR – they had put me on standby for the SIN-LHR leg due to overselling the cabin – but when I checked in at SYD I was told I *would* get a seat and to go straight to the lounge at SIN so they could allocate it for me. So it was ok in the end.

        The Cathay lounges at Hong Kong are just fab – loved the dumplings – though having to collect bags and go through immigration then re-check-in was a pain.
        Wasn’t all that impressed by the Qantas lounge because as nice as the food looked I couldn’t eat most of it. Though the apple sorbet was nice.

        BA get points for having vegan cookies in their lounges, wish I’d grabbed a few for the flight though as their in-flight low lactose meals were really disappointing – especially as they don’t carry non-dairy milks for their ridiculously strong tea. Only one of the BA low-lactose meal trays included soy milk – why doesn’t it get included as standard? I actually skipped the first meal on the SIN-SYD in favour of getting straight to sleep and regretted it when I woke up starving 6-7 hours later with nothing but a few nuts to eat – even the pretzels in the club kitchen had milk in them. By the time they served breakfast it was already lunch time according to my body clock.

        Enjoyed my stay in the IC. They let me stay in the same harbour view room for the whole stay even though I’d tagged cheaper City Side bookings on to the initial Ambassador certificate booking, but only allowed me the 2 nights Club lounge access I had paid for, then told me it was going to be closed for a private function for one of the nights. When I complained about that they allowed me Club lounge access on the Monday night to make up for it, which meant I could guest my friend in for pre-opera cocktails and canapés, which was lovely. Not worth paying an extra AUD200 per night for the rest of the stay though.

        • Glad you had a great trip! Hope all our 11 flights/connections go smoothly!

  2. RussellH says:

    Have there been any hints anywhere as to the nature of the Marriott Preferred Guest (or whatever they decide to call it) scheme? Particularly given the difference between SPG Gold and Marriott Gold?

    • No, nothing. However as the chain will be even bigger – and so hotels even easier to find – they make status even tougher to earn. Doubt Amex would keep giving it out in this scenario.

  3. KrisNZ says:

    I stayed in the Renaissance Mumbai recently for a work trip. I was treated very well with Marriott Gold via AMEX Plat, was a bit awkward when I received an upgraded room and lounge access when my boss had to stay in a standard room.

    Definitely seems that of the hotel status benefits, Marriott is one of the best options.

  4. I feel that Marriott probably gets less coverage than other chains on this excellent site. They are my main hotel programme. I can’t count the number of suite upgrades, breakfast spreads etc that I’ve had over the years.

    I do choose the hotel quite carefully, as obviously there are bad and good marriotts.

    But none of what you describe in the article surprises me.

    • Marriott ignores us despite various approaches. If they want to start working with us as Hilton, IHG and Melia do that would be good.

  5. This is very timely. Friend and I currently looking at hotels in Berlin for our girls city break, reward flights already booked for September. Was considering either the Hampton Alexanderplatz or the Hilton Berlin. Have gold now with amex plat, not yet done the gold status match from SPG to Marriott but can do that. Marriott now thrown into the mix. Out of the 3 which would be best?

    • Doug M says:

      Stayed at the Hampton couple of weeks back. It’s clean and pleasant, little too far from where you want to be, depends how much you like to walk. Based on Rob’s review the Marriott would be a lot nicer and more luxurious. Location wise I prefer Hackescher Markt, to Potsdamer or Alexanderplatz.

    • Alexanderplatz getting a bit challenging at night, lots of police activity.

      Potsdampl, Kufdam, Charlotteb good options for girly break. You’ll often find eng lang travel progs on http://www.dw.com

      • Doug M says:

        I noticed that, seemed mostly youth drinking related? Have to say Berlin is a very safe city, it certainly feels safe.

        • Michael Jennings says:

          Berlin is a safe city by the standards of the rest of the world. Crime levels are high by the standards of other German cities. Someone attempted to pick my pocket in Berlin a few years ago (in East Kreuzberg). I think the danger of violent crime is much lower than things like petty theft, though.

        • Berlin is fine. If live in, say, Cheltenham the ‘in your face’ prostitution (which is totally legal) may be a shock to the system if you wander down the wrong street but apart from that ….

      • Thanks John and Doug. Last time I was in Berlin was about 14 years ago, ex boyfriend organised everything so have little recollection of the city. Stayed at the Four Seasons but don’t think it’s there anymore.

    • On recent visit I stayed at both Hampton Alexanderplatz and Hilton Berlin (see HB mini-review above). HA was clean, friendly -everything you would expect. It’s a block or two from Alexanderplatz but still easy to get to. I would choose the Hilton if going again just because it is a bit more central but would not object to being in HA.

  6. Gareth says:

    Am I right in thinking that status benefits are honoured for Marriott on third party bookings?

    • Doug M says:

      I asked yesterday and Rob said yes. Others indicated it was a little hit and miss. I think you need to tell them in advance, contact the hotel directly to let them know your number. Mine was hotels.com and I used the facility they have to message the hotel. Having done that the booking did appear in my Marriott account so they definitely made the link.

    • Yes, see the scheme rules

  7. The type of the room should be on your final bill which you receive at checkout

  8. Ted Hughes says:

    Perhaps the comforting feeling which is difficult to put one’s finger on is the same comforting feeling which family provides.

    • No, I think it was the comforting feeling of knowing I could avoid all of them for 48 hours of peace and quiet safe in the knowledge that they would still be there when I returned 🙂

  9. Roger I* says:

    Marriott group benefits are very much brand dependent, like Hilton but more so. For me, included breakfast is a major consideration when selecting hotels.

    Marriott gold offers free breakfast, up to a point. I was hoping that Marriott’s purchase of Protea in Africa a couple of years ago would lead to free breakfast at Protea hotels. It didn’t.

    I see some Protea hotels in South Africa are being rebranded as Marriotts, so perhaps things will change, though apparently not yet.

    IME Hilton offers breakfast pretty well across the brand range, Marriott not. One reason why I’m booked at the Hilton Cape Town City Centre and not at one of several Proteas, in spite of my rather large Marriott points total. 🙂

    • Genghis says:

      We stayed at Protea North Wharf last month on first trip to Cape Town for 3 nights. 15k / night booked prior to the price increase in early 2017 so a good price. Room was huge and not bad. Breakfast poor (paid cash on first morning). I gave it 4* on TA. Wouldn’t stay again.

      Hilton location not great though IMO. We walked past it. Felt a bit rough.

      I’d stay at the V&A Waterfront (there was a Radisson Blu which I considered but not too sure on RR points value / pay cash) / stay in Constantia.

  10. Definitely not a 5-star hotel.
    It’s a decent 4-star one, with an excellent location.

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