I have a crazy knack for booking accommodations with few or no reviews. Ugh. So, I’ve made it my mission to always review where I stay.
You would not believe how much time I looked for a place to stay in Berlin. In fact, I don’t even want to know. For almost two months I spent an hour here, an hour there combing hotels.com, booking.com, and google.com. Berlin is a HUGE city with tons of options. Though it is supposedly still affordable to live in Berlin, I found that short-term stays were far from it. Well, if you want a little space for kids and a decent location, that is.
Also, timing really is everything. If you’re planning a trip to Berlin and are at all flexible, double check that your visit does NOT coincide with any major event (like the Berlin Marathon). Not only do properties up their prices, but availability is greatly reduced even at places like hostels and holiday flats. Unfortunately, we had no choice in our dates and wound up sharing the city with visitors to the IFA convention, a major technology conference.
Okay, back to the actual review. I was extremely skeptical going in to this apartment rental. While it does have a few pictures, the Berolina Appartments / Apartments website definitely lacks information about the company, their policies, and the individual properties. I emailed the office and asked a host of questions over the course of about two weeks while I decided whether or not I wanted to stay there (I ended up finding a backup hostel just in case).
My emails with the agent at Berolina Apartments were friendly and helpful. However, in true German style, you must make sure you ask the right questions to get the information you want. Nothing is offered that is not requested.
One very important thing to note is that check-in for Berolina Apartments is not at the actual apartment property. Guests must go to the Berolina Hostel in Charlottenburg to pick up keys and pay for their stay. This is majorly inconvenient when the flat is located on the complete opposite side of the city from the hostel. I asked if it was possible to change the check-in location to the property and was informed that it would cost an extra 20 euro and all fees would have to be paid in advance (instead of upon check-in). No thanks.
Nevertheless, the location of this apartment is fabulous. It’s a block or so from Alexanderplatz (one tram stop away or an 8 minute walk). I wondered how on earth it was possible to pay only 65 euros per night for a flat so close to the city center. Upon check-in, the woman informed me that the rental was in an old DDR (East German) building and that, “it’s an experience.” Great…
Mostly, the building is just old. Sure, it’s quirky, but I didn’t feel unsafe.
The windows are street-side so we did have some noise throughout the night. However, we all sleep better with a bit of white noise, so it didn’t bother us a bit.
Gulliver has one bedroom, a living room, a bathroom, and a kitchen. The bedroom was small-ish but fit the travel cot just fine. T-Rex slept in the king bed – lucky kid. (Apartment Gulliver did not have a pack & play / travel cot, but the owners were willing to purchase one for our stay. Very nice!) The living room had a pull-out couch (also small-ish) where we slept. It was nothing special but did the job. The bathroom only had a shower (no tub), and it’s cruise-ship sized.
The living room also had a TV, a VCR, and cable. We didn’t use any of these items. In the cleaning closet by the entrance, we noticed a huge pile of movies on VHS and DVD. I’ve no idea if guests are allowed to help themselves, but the closet was not locked.
The kitchen is open to the living room, separated only by an open counter. The counter had four bar stools (very wobbly and not good for kids) and a small table stood in the corner of the living room. It only had two chairs so the boys ate there, and we ate at the bar. Kind of awkward for family meals!
And, speaking of awkward, the washing machine was in the kitchen and the fridge was in the hallway. All part of the experience, right?
The stove is gas but no matches were provided. Luckily we found a lighter; a stressful surprise nonetheless since we only figured this out in the morning when little tummies were already clamoring for their oatmeal.
After we boiled the water on the stove (the hot pot was small and crusted inside), we realized the place had only two bowls – larger glass serving bowls. No normal drink glasses either.
Berolina Apartments charges guests a fee to have the flat cleaned after checkout. I think it’s better to roll this into the rent price, but hey, nobody asked me.
They also charge for linens (I guess because they also operate a hostel?). You can bring your own, but there’s no way I’m carting sheets & towels for four all the way across Germany just for one weekend. When we arrived, all the linens were in bags, fresh from the launderer. It was nice to KNOW the sheets were clean but a bit annoying having to make up the beds ourselves after a long day of traveling.
Perhaps the most annoying aspect of the experience was the internet. The website promised wireless internet which I clarified in an email with the office. When we arrived at the flat, we did not find any instructions on connecting to the internet. I was also told there was a phone in the flat which was not true. I had to use my mobile to call the office (not cheap). The office staff did not know how to connect to the internet and asked to call me back. Thirty minutes later, I still had no information, just a promise to get back to me later. We just used the wired internet for the course of our stay, but no one ever replied with instructions that worked.
All in all, our stay at Berolina Apartments – Gulliver was decent. It was probably the best place for the money during the busy IFA Conference. I got the impression that renting flats is a rather new endeavor for Berolina, so perhaps with time they’ll iron out the kinks and accommodate holiday flat guests even better.