A full continental spread for breakfast and shower gel free to use in the hot and powerful showers? It can only be that I returned to another MEININGER Hotel…
In my previous stay at a MEININGER Hotel I made sure to search out how a hybrid hotel (a budget hotel with the social environment and shared dormitories of a hostel) could work for backpackers. Last week however I was working with my company at ITB Berlin, and was more than happy to spend a couple of nights in a private room.
Of course, with less to chance to socialise, I made sure I spent at least one night sat on a bar stall testing out the whiskey…
Much like MEININGER Brussels, the hotel in Berlin Central Station is set up to socialise. With bar stools lined up along the bar and long tables nestled opposite it’s difficult to sit down for ten minutes and not get chatting to anyone in such an open environment.
The area used for breakfast also opens up into a pool table arena… and few things bring travellers together like a competitive game of pool. I would probably prefer it if the pool tables were more a part of the main bar area to add to the lively atmosphere, but the great thing about them being located in the next room is that those who want to play a lively game of pool won’t disturb guests that just want to have a quiet nightcap at the bar.
And that’s probably the greatest draw of MEININGER hotels. Their budget prices, dormitories, and bar areas attract the youth backpackers. Their free wifi throughout the hostel and comfortable private rooms attract the business travellers (which I was one of this last week). The great number of beds in 296 rooms(!) and good prices attracts the school groups.
So you won’t find the crazy drinking culture of many hostels here, but you will find a multicultural and diverse community.
As the MEININGER website states: “Business travellers, globetrotters, students and young families take advantage of the many opportunities to socialise and help create our MEININGER atmosphere: cosmopolitan, friendly, relaxed.” source
I found the night staff at MEININGER Berlin Central Station to be more relaxed than the day staff, but then with the rotation of large school groups during the day this is probably to be expected. The breakfast staff were always fantastic, and always willing to lend a hand. Considering how many people left their dirty dishes around, every so often they would remind guests to clear their tables when they were finished but they always did so with a kind smile which is more than I would probably be able to do faced with rows of messy tables at 7am.
@the_hostelgirl great blog that you have! I hope you have a nice time in Berlin. Greetings from the MEININGER staff 😉
— Colin D (@HadesHon) March 4, 2015
The tweet above came from one of the night receptionists after I had asked him if he minded me taking photos of the hotel. Little personal touches like this over social media represent great customer service that I really appreciate. A lot of companies don’t allow their staff to tweet on their behalf, but staff-guest interaction really makes a difference to helping guests feel welcome.
Once Colin had given me my freedom to shoot photos of the common areas I propped myself up on the bar (again… I only do it to analyse the atmosphere I promise!) and within minutes got chatting to Max, one of the bartenders. I’ve previously reviewed hostels where I’ve been sat at the bar for almost half an hour without being spoken to aside from to order my drink, and let me just say that if you’re a bartender in a hostel you should probably follow Max’s example and get chatting with the customers. Again, it makes us feel welcome and at the end of the day my goal is to find homes on the road.
The only issue we had was when my colleague tried to check in to the hotel. We had the room for three nights but she wasn’t arriving until the second and I was leaving before the third, and whilst I wasn’t there when she checked in I heard this confused them a lot. As it happens, they didn’t seem at all bothered when I checked in or out so perhaps it had just been an extra busy day for them.
After describing the sociable layout of the bar area you won’t be surprised to learn that my one drink that night turned in to three as I got chatting to a couple of businessmen and a few backpackers at the bar. By the time I got to my room I was desperate for a good night’s sleep, something I always get at a MEININGER hotel.
As usual, the duvets were thick and cosy and my head just sunk straight in to the pillow. As usual, I set my alarm to snooze over and again the next morning just to make the most of a good bed before I finally had to drag myself out and get to work.
Now, you’re probably wondering why I stayed in a private dorm and not a dormitory, especially as I have previously written my thoughts on why solo girls should stay in mixed dorms. As I mentioned, I was in Berlin to attend a conference on behalf of my company, and with early starts and long days a private was just what I needed.
One aspect of the room I appreciated even more was the shower, which was clean, hot and powerful. All MEININGER hotels offer free towels in the private rooms, just like any other hotel, but unlike other hostels all bathrooms I’ve encountered also have free use of shower gel attached to the shower wall. For a budget traveller it really is the little things in life that make it that much more beautiful.
p.s. I ran out of shampoo during my stay, and the shower gel in the shower not only washed my hair just as well as shampoo would, but I was also told by multiple people the next day that my hair smelt beautiful. Just a little travel hack there for you to remember!
Once you’ve scrolled down and seen the central location of MEININGER Berlin Central Station (here’s a clue… it’s right by central station) you will be as amazed as I am that prices start from as little as €20 a night for a 4-bed dorm. Obviously, for a private room like the one above the prices are higher and begin at around €68 for a single.
So here’s a little tip – book directly from the MEININGER website and if you’re certain of your dates go for the ‘FIX‘ price, which doesn’t allow for cancellation but can help you save anything from €3-€8 a night.
If you’re worried about any added costs, wifi is free for all guests whilst breakfast costs €5.90 for a buffet including tea/coffee, orange juice, meats, cheeses, fruits, breads, and more so I would highly suggest eating breakfast here rather than spending more in town. I’m not usually a fan of breakfasts as you can probably tell by the lack of info I provide on it in my reviews, but the breakfast is that good here I even felt the need to tweet about it…
— Katie Dawes (@the_hostelgirl) March 5, 2015
I briefly touched on this above, but if a hostel/hotel/hybrid is named after the Central Station I’m sure you’d be smart enough to guess where it’s located. The name of the Central Station in German is ‘Hauptbahnhof‘, and you only have to take a look at this public transport map to see how simple it is to get to the rest of the city from MEININGER.
One ticket for public transport is valid for the trains and tram lines, as long as you make sure you’re within the right zones and your trip lasts no longer than two hours. Also, if you end up going back towards your starting station you will need a new ticket as this will be perceived as a free return trip if checked!
Generally, if you’re staying within zones A & B your ticket will cost €2.70, but if you need to go a little further a ticket for zones A, B, & C costs €3.30. If you’re travelling on public transport a couple of times a day for a week trip I would suggest getting a weekly pass to reduce costs. Also – don’t forget to validate your ticket at the starting station!
Alternatively, MEININGER Hotel Central Station offers bicycle hire for €12 a day, and whilst this is almost four times the price of one public transport ticket, Berlin is a great city to cycle around as the streets are wide and walking distances from stations to sights are often quite long so I would definitely suggest touring the city by bike at least once during your stay.
Ultimately, it’s clear to see that I really enjoyed my time at MEININGER Berlin Central Station. My stay as a business customer was different to usual, and I was not given anything in exchange for review, as I was visiting the city with my employers. As always though, my opinions here are honest and my own.
MEININGER Hotels don’t naturally have the familial feel of smaller independent hostels, but neither are they as cold as budget hotels. The majority of the staff understand that the hotel’s concept as a hybrid means that the social aspect is just as important as service, and during my stay it was a pleasure to see different guests interacting, both with each other and with the staff.
Lots of love,
MEININGER Hotels is a member of STAY WYSE, the only not-for-profit industry association to represent the entire global youth travel accommodation sector, one of the travel industry’s fastest growing niche markets.