Q: What is it? A: A very German, super-functional and well-located near the Potsdamer Platz. Perfect for any business-traveller for whom function and location will be of great importance. Not for lovers. Not for families. Not for me.
Now I know what it is like to live in a brand new Opel.
It’s functional. Front desk is tiny, funky looking and crowded with staff members. Check-in is a swift and correct procedure. Smiles are inserted according to the corporate manual. Within two and a half minute I’m whisked away towards the elevators. Impressive, if you’re in a hurry. I’m not. Glass elevator to seventh floor. Framed black-and-white photographs on the walls. Everything is there to look modern. So is the room, which is also larger than average with a balcony and a kitchen that looks like it actually works. First impression? Antiseptic.
The quint-essence of ‘business boring’.
It sure blends in. Magazines and websites are quick to mention the metamorphosis of the Potsdamer Platz. During the Cold War it was a highly visible no man’s land cut in two halved by the wall (the wall was actually first breached at Potsdamer Platz before the Brandenburg Gate). Somehow the atmosphere doesn’t appeal to me. If the Mandala Hotel had been an oasis in this glass and steel heavy environment, I’d been the first to give it a more than a just lukewarm review. This is simply a part of Berlin that doesn’t appeal to me. It’s designed for business in the most boring meaning of that word. And so is this hotel.
If we look at details…
Booking a mid-sized room means that you will get a large room. Well, actually it is a suite. There are 166 of them in this hotel. Mine followed the Berliner norm, which meant that I had a fully functional kitchen to play around in. To me that connotes that human beings are staying in this area for longer periods of time. Scary. The bathroom is ginormous with a bath, a shower, dual sinks and a lot of room in between them. There’s plenty of storage space as well. Everything is modern. Shiny. Polished. But does it feel homey? No. Is it well designed? Well, take a look at the picture above and judge for yourself.
Who is it for then?
The location isn’t bad if you are on a business trip in the area. And the Potsdamer Platz is one of the major communication hubs in the city. On the other hand, Charlottenburg is a mere 10-minute taxi ride away. The hotel restaurant, Facil, is supposed to be one of Berlin’s best, but was closed during my stay. It’s fair to say that I have a problem delivering a balanced review. The Mandala may be an alternative if say… the Hilton, the Crowne Plaza or the Radisson are on your list. However, if you know me, you also know that I’d rather sleep under a railway bridge than stay at one of those international chains.
The Mandala Hotel
Potsdamer Strasse 3
+49 30 590050000
ADDITIONAL COMMENT: Why are most German hotels charging guests for the WiFi connection? If you can not provide great atmosphere but want to make life easier for the business traveller, wireless broadband should be very, very free! Yes, I do know that it’s costly to run a hotel and blablabla but then, please… just include it in the room rate and add € 15 on top of that rate, if you must. It’s not the money but the process of having to purchase it, (plus typing in usernames and a codes that seem tailor-made for an arms manufacturer), that pisses travellers off. Trust me, bitte. I’m one of them.