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Review: we visit Motto Rotterdam Blaak, Hilton’s new hostel-hotel concept

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This is our review of the new Motto Rotterdam Blaak hotel, part of Hilton Honors.

Motto is something genuinely new, unlike the recent onslaught of new brands such as Handwritten and Spark. It “is a micro-hotel with an urban vibe in prime global locations”.

In plain English, Hilton believes that extended family groups or large groups of friends are happy to share rooms. However, they don’t want to stay in a traditional hostel. This is a market which the Generator chain dominates, creating hostels with private rooms and funky shared spaces.

Motto Rotterdam hotel review

The average Motto room is a super-small 15.2 square metres and may have bunk beds or beds which flip down from the walls. The majority of rooms connect so you can build the exact space you need for your group. 

Currently, there are just six Mottos open globally. We thought it was worth checking out and headed to the first Motto in Europe – in Rotterdam. Hilton provided our room and arranged for me to have a tour of the different room types.

The hotel website is here.

Where is Motto Rotterdam?

The full name of the hotel is Motto by Hilton Rotterdam Blaak, which gives you a good sense of where the new hotel is located.

It is close to the water and adjacent to the Maritime district, and is where you’ll find at least two iconic Rotterdam landmarks – the Cube Houses and the Market Hall.

It is also close to the large Blaak train station whilst Rotterdam Centraal, the main station, is approximately 15 minutes walk away. Although bigger than Antwerp, Rotterdam is not a particularly large city so it is very walkable.

Inside Motto by Hilton Rotterdam Blaak

The Motto is a conversion of an old banking building, which gives it some character versus Rotterdam’s many other new build hotels:

Motto Rotterdam hotel review

Entry is via the steps – there is another accessible way in, according to the hotel website, although it is not immediately obvious.

Inside you’re greeted with a bar that divides the internal courtyard in two:

Motto Rotterdam hotel review

On the left is Pesca, a seafood restaurant that doesn’t belong to the hotel, whilst a WeWork-style hot desking area and lobby is to the right:

Motto Rotterdam hotel review

Check-in was quick and easy, and as a Hilton Diamond member I was given credit vouchers which I could spend at the bar or for breakfast, instead of an included breakfast.

You may have read that Hilton has stopped giving free breakfast at hotels in the United States, and is now giving a food and drink cash credit instead. Hilton has decided that the same rule will apply to all Motto hotels, even those outside the US. It won’t be surprising if we see the free breakfast benefit scrapped in all other countries in the next 12-18 months.

The breakfast credit for Gold or Diamond members at Motto is €10 per person. This is a bit measly given the cheapest meal on the breakfast menu is €9.75. Even €15 wouldn’t cover much, unless all you want is a coffee and pastry.

Motto Rotterdam hotel review

Rooms at Motto by Hilton Rotterdam

There are just 108 rooms in the hotel, so it is relatively small. I was given a room on the ‘ground’ floor, although you’re about a metre above street level.

The Motto by Hilton Rotterdam offers four different room types:

  • King room
  • King room (fold-out bed)
  • King room with additional sofa bed
  • King room with additional bunk bed

I was in a standard king room, although I did manage to see all the room types. Here is a king room with a murphy bed that turns into a sofa:

Motto Rotterdam hotel review

Here is a king room with a ‘lofted single bed’:

Motto Rotterdam hotel review

And here is a King Room with a separate sofa bed:

Motto Rotterdam hotel review

You can mix and match rooms, to the extent that the hotel has that combination connecting, to create your own custom layout. For example, you could, if you wanted, create a junior suite by connecting a normal king room with a sofa/murphy bed king, with that one set up as a living room.

However, because of the heritage of the building, not all the rooms are identical. As I later found out, I had one of the larger king rooms, with a huge open floor area:

Motto Rotterdam hotel review

All the rooms are the same when it comes to showers and bathrooms. You have two separate frosted-glass cubicles:

Motto Rotterdam hotel review

Water pressure in the shower was phenomenal. Toiletries are from The Spa Collection:

Motto Rotterdam hotel review

Opposite the shower and toilet you have a small open wardrobe, luggage rack and sink:

There is a safe and an empty mini fridge underneath.

You may have noticed there are no bedside tables. There is, however, a ledge above the headboard where you can put phones, books etc. There are plug sockets on both sides:

Motto Rotterdam hotel review

In fact, there are plug sockets virtually everywhere in the room, so power is never an issue. Opposite the bed is a TV and a teeny tiny desk that folds out – although I wouldn’t want to use the stool for long. I used the lobby workspace instead.

Motto Rotterdam hotel review

This was the view from my window:

Motto Rotterdam hotel review

The rooms are plain but not austere. The terrazzo floor and light wood add a bit of texture and the whole effect is very inoffensive. Nothing about it feels try-hard or boring.

Breakfast at Pesca

As mentioned above, anyone with Hilton Gold status or above gets a €10 voucher. An a la carte breakfast is served at Pesca, the lobby restaurant managed by a third party, or you can pick up a basic coffee and pastry to go.

Motto Rotterdam hotel review

Of the five main breakfast ‘meals’, only one of them is less than €10, at €9.75 for some granola, yoghurt and fruit. If you want something cooked it is €12.50 – €13.50, so the €10 really doesn’t go far.

I ordered ‘The Panroast’ which is described as ‘Sunny side up, duroc bacon, old cheese, salsa rosso, grilled sourdough’:

Motto Rotterdam hotel review

Basically, it is egg and bacon on toast. A croissant is €2.50 whilst a coffee is around the €3.Basically, however, you are likely to be paying an additional 50% (or more) of your breakfast in cash – not exactly a great ‘free breakfast’ benefit.

The service was also remarkably disjointed, although this seems to be a trend across restaurants in Rotterdam. There was no-one in the bar to guide us to a table so we just sat down and waited for someone to appear. When they did, they faffed around in the bar for a while before saying hello and eventually bringing the menus. It’s all a bit aloof.

Conclusion

As a new concept – and as someone who went on a fair amount of hostelling holidays with my family when I was younger – I have to admit that Motto does seem to have something going for it.

The rooms and facilities at Motto Rotterdam are pitched at a similar level to a Moxy or citizenM but with the added benefit that you can connect multiple rooms – up to nine or ten, I believe. For big family holidays this is not a bad idea.

The location is very good, and the lobby lounge is funkier than the rooms which makes it a fun place to work from. All in all, I think it’s a good concept and something very different – not something you’d necessarily expect from one of the major hotel chains.

Room rates at Motto Rotterdam start at around €101, or 29,000 Hilton Honors points per night. You can find out more, and book, on the hotel website here.

Thank you to Hilton for arranging my room and showing me around.

Comments (74)

  • Save East Coast Rewards says:

    €101 for that? 29,000 points can get you a Doubletree, Hampton or HGI in many places.

    The problem with these ‘budget’ ideas is they’re rarely cheap enough compared to regular offerings.

    Anyway a few things I think are missing from the review.
    No attempt to find the accessible entrance, just that the hotel website says there is one but it’s not obvious where it is. It would be good to know more about the entrance, is it a ramp, wheelchair lift, does it feel like a second class entrance, do you need to use the intercom to access the hotel through this entrance, etc?

    You say Pesca is not part of the hotel but it’s also where they serve breakfast. Can you charge to your room here and if so do you get points on that spend? Do all Motto hotels have their restaurants run by a third party? If so this might be why they only give a breakfast credit rather than free breakfast outside the US.

    So to me it sounds like the rooms are too expensive for their target market and those who want a premium hostel aren’t likely to pay €15 for breakfast when there’s likely cheaper options outside

    • Rhys says:

      It didn’t cross my mind until I got home and started looking at my photos unfortunately! It certainly wasn’t obvious, however.

      • Save East Coast Rewards says:

        It’s easy enough to forget about so I think accessibility should be on a checklist of things to cover.

        • Novice says:

          True because I’m sure a lot of retirees are on this site since they have the most time to travel. I’m not saying only old people need this sort of information but it makes sense to cover everything in a hotel review.

          • Rob says:

            You sound like my son who thinks anyone born in the 20th century is essentially walking dead.

            I’m guessing you don’t know many people in their 70s or early 80s, since the majority I know are – at least walking wise – in fundamentally the same condition as me in terms of their ability to get about.

            I have mentioned my neighbour on here before, who got married at 68 to an Imperial PhD graduate in her late 20’s, had a kid a year later and now at 72 still runs his Soho media investment business and bikes to work every day.

          • Novice says:

            @Rob, I know my grandparents 😂

            I do know some oldies and I must admit they are probably healthier than all the other people I know.

            I think it’s unconscious bias or whatever 😂

        • Hilda M says:

          As an oldie here with a dodgy knee, I can manage some steps but just cannot climb out of a swimming pool that only has a ladder – so, as the accessibility topic has been broached here, a plea to mention ladder only pools when reviewing if not obvious from photos. And yes, I do go searching online myself and/or phone up hotels but you’d be surprised how many operators/ front desk personnel can’t answer such a question!

      • Christopher says:

        There’s a stairlift on the left side of the building. As we passed, it was occupied by smokers. Not a great impression.

    • Economist_Nearby says:

      What a strangely entitled comment. If you want to know the answer to those questions look it up yourself instead of posting a comment on here.

    • DaveJ says:

      “29000 points can get you a Doubletree, Hampton or HGI in many places”

      I don’t have that amount of points so €101 is decent value for me.

      • Save East Coast Rewards says:

        It’s €63 (a bit more appealing) on the Hilton Friends and Family rate, so best value is to find a friend or family member who works for them (fortunately working for Hilton includes those who work for their franchisees in Hilton group branded hotels and not just direct employees) 😀

        I don’t think €101 is decent value for tiny rooms in a non-capital city. If it was London or Amsterdam then maybe.

        • DaveJ says:

          “It’s €63 (a bit more appealing) on the Hilton Friends and Family rate, so best value is to find a friend or family member who works for them (fortunately working for Hilton includes those who work for their franchisees in Hilton group branded hotels and not just direct employees) ”

          Right and if I don’t have any friends or family who work for Hilton?

          • His Holyness says:

            Of course they’re expensive when you step back to consider what you get, why on earth would Hilton want to franchise them otherwise? LOL
            Budget is where the profits are at, full service is dead.

          • Save East Coast Rewards says:

            That’s my point, I think €101 is too dear for what it is, but if you can get a big discount it almost seems worth a try.

    • RussellH says:

      In Valencia as I write…
      > €15 for breakfast when there’s likely cheaper options outside

      … €13,90 if ordered in advance, €17,90 otherwise.

      Or €5,50 for two decent coffees and 3 good croissants 3 doors along the street.

  • Panda Mick says:

    Good review, although I’m struggling to get the concept… I’ve got the Metropole booked in feb for my sister with two queen beds. For £159. In London.

    The breakfast benefit demise was an obvious candidate for the chop post pandemic… But it does highlight the attractiveness of Embassy suites in the US, “Funky” they are NOT: But the two SF airport ones, LV (near the university) and Santa Clara Embassy Suites are my go to hotels when stateside given the excellent omelette bar.

    • Nick says:

      They really need to price against the budget hotels (which often seem to have a great quality fit-out) rather than being just slightly cheaper than a traditional Hilton chain if they want to hit their target markets.
      The layout of the hotel will make any changes expensive, so you’d expect that they set the pricing appropriately over time. I can see why they’re starting off at the higher end initially as they try to understand price elasticity and impact of inflation on other hotels.

  • vlcnc says:

    I will say Dutch service especially outside of Amsterdam (thanks to tourism) is never particularly good or warm, aloof sounds about right and you are lucky you didn’t experience some of the actively rude service I’ve experienced there in my time lol!

  • Chris W says:

    Grim.

    That pathetic f&b credit is enough reason to avoid completely. No reason for Hilton elites to book this. You can get much better for 29,000 points per night. I would rather a forgettable airport HGI than this.

  • Sunguy says:

    Im starting to get a bit fed up with Hilton at the moment …. Im a diamond member, very infrequently get upgrades these days and genuinely just about never use the breakfast vouchers as they NEVER cover the cost of what the breakfast used to be.

    Add this in to the removal of executive lounges (esp. those that do breakfast) and the outsourcing of the hotels restaurant to third-party companies – WHO REALLY DO NOT WANT your voucher … and just want to sell you stuff … there was one I was in last year in Canada where the voucher would not purchase a single slice of toast and a coffee BUT, I could purchase a full breakfast with all sorts of add ons for a discounted price as I was a hotel guest… (which was less than the voucher was officially worth) …..oh and the waiter made it quite clear he wasnt interested in serving us unless we chose that.

    Its a shame what they are doing – the free breakfast was one of THE main benefits of Hhonors … which at least offset things like the resort and/or parking charge … (and dont get me started on resort charges for hotels that aint resorts! – but thats more of an industry problem now) ….

    • Dace says:

      I have avoided Hilton in North America for some time now. Up until last year it was still my brand of choice as I mainly travel outside of NA. However, IHG is now my go to. Their new programme for me is now lightyears ahead of Hilton.

  • the_real_a says:

    Another “small room” hotel with funky design to add to all the others that are springing up. Lets be honest who is actually going to join the rooms? Probably less than 1% of guests.

    It will be a bit more difficult to dilute the breakfast across the range when hotels serve a set fixed price buffet. But lets see.

  • Mzungu says:

    Pedant mode
    I see we’re back to “plug sockets” again!
    In the NH Collection Antwerp Centre review a couple of days ago, they were actually referred to correctly as sockets.
    What’s so difficult about referring to a socket as a socket, and a plug (which goes into a socket) as a plug 🤷‍♂️?
    /Pedant mode

    • RussellH says:

      There are pedant electrical people who insist on he term “plug tops” rather than plugs, which they reckon could be bath or sink plugs, or wall plugs or …

      If the writer wishes to be exact, then “mains socket” or “electrical socket” are clearer than just socket. In any case, I assume that these are Schuko sockets and not USB ones?

      • Nick says:

        Considering Rhys normally insists on writing in American, I can cope with ‘plug socket’. Be grateful he didn’t use (shudder) “outlet”.

      • Bagoly says:

        They might well be CEE 7/1 rather than Schuko – such things (without earthing) can get Dutch standards approval, and are compatible with both Type E and Type F plugs.

  • Kenny says:

    I used to live on bredestraat. Certainly a great location!

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