Review: Grand Hyatt Berlin, my first Hyatt Globalist hotel stay
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This is our review of the Grand Hyatt Berlin hotel.
If you read any US travel blogs, you will know that World of Hyatt’s Globalist status is generally treated as the holy grail of hotel loyalty. The benefits you receive as an elite member are seen as head and shoulders above what all of the other hotel programmes offer. They may not look much better on paper, but Hyatt will always deliver them.
That said, we don’t cover Hyatt much on HfP because of its limited European footprint, albeit things are improving. The European management, based in Swizerland, is also tricky to deal with.
You will see a burst of Hyatt coverage on HfP this Summer, however, as I have been gifted a year of Hyatt Globalist status. Let’s see what the hype is all about …..
This status hasn’t come from Hyatt itself. Our hotel booking partner, Emyr Thomas, was given a number of Globalist memberships to give out to his top clients, and I made the cut in a personal capacity.
It would be rude not to take full advantage of this, so I am planning trips to a number of leading Hyatt properties in Europe to see what I can get.
I thought I’d kick off at Grand Hyatt Berlin.
I stayed here 20 years ago, just after it opened, but hadn’t been back since. Recent Berlin stays have been at The Ritz Carlton and the Marriott (Marriott Berlin review here – it’s possibly the best Marriott in Europe), both within five minutes walk of the Hyatt at Potsdamer Platz. We also reviewed the refurbished Pullman, and Rhys visited the Waldorf Astoria Berlin last Autumn – both of these hotels are by the zoo.
What are the benefits of World of Hyatt Globalist status?
Hyatt Globalist status requires you to do 60 nights or spend $20,000 before taxes in a calendar year. This is obviously very difficult if you are based in Europe, and with no credit card partners it is also hard to pick up large numbers of World of Hyatt points.
My strategy – and what I recommend to HfP readers – is to ignore status and simply buy World of Hyatt points when they are on sale. These can be redeemed for high value rewards. Here’s my story of how I redeemed a paltry 6,000 points for a suite upgrade with Club access at Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile, for example. Next month I am at Park Hyatt New York using purchased points, which represents a substantial saving on the £1,000+ cash rate.
(There is currently a 30% discount on World of Hyatt points as you can read in this article.)
Globalist benefits include:
- Room upgrade, which should be to a ‘standard’ suite if available
- Club access, or free breakfast if no lounge
- Guaranteed 4pm late check-out
- 30% points bonus
- Waived resort fees on free and paid nights
- Free parking on reward nights
It’s also worth mentioning ‘Guest of Honor’. This is a Hyatt Globalist benefit which allows me to book a reward night (not a cash night) for someone else, with them getting all of the Globalist benefits. If you have a friend who is Globalist, there is merit in using their points for your stay and buying them the equivalent number of points in return.
Let’s see how this worked out in Berlin.
An amazing pre-arrival email …..
The day before I was due in Berlin I received an email from the hotel. It was apologising for the fact that it would not be able to upgrade me to a suite for my stay.
This was, frankly, stunning. I don’t think I’ve ever had a hotel apologise at the front desk for not upgrading me, yet alone contact me in advance. Perhaps this Globalist hype was actually true?
The email offered me compensation in the shape of a free drink in the bar (pointless as I had lounge access via my status) or free parking (something a UK visitor is very unlikely to need). This was a kind thought but underwhelming.
Unfortunately it went downhill from there. I pulled up hyatt.com and it turned out that it DID have a suite available for my two nights. This wasn’t a super high-end suite either – although those were also empty – it was a mid-range (95 sq m) suite.
I questioned this with the hotel and they refused the upgrade unless I paid €150 per night. This seemed a bit rich given that it wasn’t a ‘name’ suite and Globalist benefits include giving you the best available ‘standard’ suite. This suite was technically not classified as ‘standard’ but in reality there was nothing special about it. It was empty and as I was arriving in less than 24 hours, it was highly likely to stay empty. If the Chancellor suddenly turned up, the two top suites would still be available ….
With any other hotel chain I would have accepted this – although no other chain would have bothered contacting me in advance anyway. However, as the point of this article was to test out Globalist suite benefits, it didn’t make a lot of sense to agree.
I said that I would like to cancel my stay. I was technically outside the cancellation deadline so this needed doing manually. The idea of losing €500 seemed to push the hotel into action and a Junior Suite magically became available. I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that this only opened up during the six hours we were exchanging emails.
About Grand Hyatt Berlin
Let’s talk about the hotel a little. It is part of the huge Postdamer Platz redevelopment and opened 25 years ago. It’s not clear why it is a Grand Hyatt rather than a Park Hyatt, since it is virtually identical to Park Hyatt Hamburg (Park Hyatt Hamburg review here) in facilities and architectural style.
As far as I’m concerned, this hotel is up to Park Hyatt standards given my admittedly limited experience of them. I have done about 20 nights at Park Hyatt Hamburg over the years for what it’s worth.
The staff, without a doubt, operate at Park Hyatt standards. The person running the club lounge took my name on first visit and didn’t forget it over the two days I was there. The duty manager and front desk team could not have been more helpful when an issue cropped up during my stay – see the coda below.
The standard rooms are large (38 sq m) and, like Hamburg, have oversized bathrooms. Here are a few shots of my Junior Suite which was 48 sq m:
Toiletries were from Balmain.
The only thing that was a little odd was that, because the room was not fully rectangular, there was a large triangular empty space behind the bed. This could have been squared off for a shelf or storage. This is why I appear to be standing behind the bed when I took the photo above …. I was.
The overuse of blonde woods has possibly dated a little, but is still classy. A PR picture of the double-height lobby is above.
The Club lounge
Another Globalist benefit, as well as a guaranteed suite upgrade (if not all sold), is lounge access.
For ‘social distancing reasons’ the 7th floor lounge is closed and the hotel has converted the bar in the lobby. This is fine in theory, except that the space was designed to be ‘dark and moody’ with low lighting which isn’t ideal for working or reading.
Food is served in little glass jars, as happens in Park Hyatt Hamburg. There was a decent sushi selection which I appreciated. It was enough food to serve as my dinner, given that I was travelling alone and Berlin – indeed all of Germany – is a ghost town on Good Friday.
Breakfast and the pool
Whilst not part of the Globalist story, I should mention another couple of things.
I booked during a ‘all bookings include breakfast’ promotion, so I had breakfast in the main restaurant and not in the lounge. It isn’t the ludicrous spread served at Park Hyatt Hamburg – one of the biggest hotel breakfasts in Europe in my experience – but you can’t complain.
The hotel keeps up with tradition and a stack of newspapers, including The New York Times as an English option, is there to greet you when you arrive.
It is also worth mentioning the 8th floor pool and spa, which is impressive and in itself should be good enough to put the hotel into Park Hyatt territory.
The pool, whilst not huge (Hamburg is bigger), has a good view over Berlin from floor to ceiling glass windows. Here is a PR picture as it was heaving over Easter:
There is a huge steel-lined warm jacuzzi / spa pool next to it that could probably hold 15 people at a stretch.
There is also a very impressive looking sauna, steam room and – as you can see below – plunge pool:
Where did I end up with my Globalist benefits?
- Suite upgrade – tick, I got there in the end
- Club access, or free breakfast if no lounge – tick, Grand Hyatt Hamburg has a lounge
- Guaranteed 4pm late check-out – wasn’t required on this stay
- 30% points bonus – tick, I will get this when my stay posts
- Waived resort fees on free and paid nights – not applicable, you can’t get away with compulsory hidden resort fees at European hotels!
- Free parking on reward nights – not applicable
I think ‘waived resort fees’ and ‘free parking’, which could together account for $75+ per night at a hotel in the US, account for a lot of the popularity of Hyatt Globalist status. You won’t get a lot of value from these benefits when travelling in Europe.
All in all, I was impressed. For €225 per night I got a decent suite and didn’t spend anything on food and drink in the hotel due to having Club access. You can’t complain about that.
The next stop on my Hyatt Globalist tour is Park Hyatt New York. After that I am open to suggestions …. Biarritz is tempting, as is a two-night trip to Nice and Cannes. Park Hyatt Milan is also raved about. Rhys beat me to the Park Hyatt Vienna (review here) and was extremely positive about it. Let’s see where I end up.
This story has an interesting coda ….
I was in two minds as to whether to add this part of the story, but it does allow me to share some good photos.
Due to a security issue, which I won’t elaborate on, I ended up being moved to the Marlene Dietrich Suite for my second night. Sadly it is only called this because of the name of the street it overlooks – there is no memorabilia or theming. This may be the suite which the hotel had offered me in the first place for an extra €150 per night.
It is like an apartment – the bedroom has a ‘standard’ door on it, so it is very much like being at home when you close it in the evening!
The craziest thing about it was actually the wardobe. You open the wardrobe door expecting, well, a wardrobe, and you find yourself in a walk-in space that is bigger than the average bathroom.
The bathroom itself was done in a spectacular green marble. It is, apparently, a self contained steam room although no-one explained to me how it worked.
There was a free quarter bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label whisky in a cupboard, although oddly the minibar was sparse – albeit free – and the Nespresso machine the same cheap model that I had in the Junior Suite. Toiletries were also the same. This sells for around €900 per night.
There was no real view from the bedroom – you faced directly onto a theatre which is being renovated – but the living room was dual aspect and when the sun finally came out on my 2nd day it was very pleasant.
The Grand Hyatt Berlin website is here if you want to book or find out more.
World of Hyatt update – June 2023:
Get bonus points: World of Hyatt is not currently running a global promotion.
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