Berlin’s Mitte district contains the most tourist sites such as Alexanderplatz and the Wall. As a result, much of the Mitte district is catered to tourists and priced accordingly. Where would the native Berliners go to hang out, find a wide variety of foods and sit in beautiful public parks? That would be around 24 Gleimstrasse, where the City Guesthouse Pension Berlin is located.
The City Guesthouse Pension is one of those places where Germans go when on a business or personal trip to Berlin. It’s less expensive and more out of the way than other higher priced Berlin hotels, but has amenities that even big hotel chains in the United States lack. The place does contain some eccentricities, but by the end of the stay, these become charming rather than annoying.
The rooms are clean to the point where you do not smell anything – including bleach – when entering. A basic double room includes a mini-refrigerator, huge flat-screen television and a private bathroom with shower. The toilets work. The sink worked. The shower worked. The refrigerator worked. For folks weary from international travel, discovering that the plumbing works and the rooms are clean is a major miracle.
The beds are orange and white in décor with memory-foam mattresses and extra blankets. Rooms are decorated with charmingly mismatched but functional furniture, perhaps bought from one of the many antique stores in the Mitte district. Rooms were equipped with not only a light you could flip on with the usual switch, but a desk light where you could turn it in and off with a couple of finger taps. This is incredibly convenient for someone waking up in the dark in a strange room.
When booking a room at the City Guesthouse Pension Berlin, guests receive a free breakfast buffet. Americans used to “breakfast buffets” consisting of a coffee and two types of stale doughnuts will be overwhelmed by the buffet. This includes several different types of fresh breads made in Berlin, fresh fruit, fresh cheeses, fresh meats, yogurt, eggs and steamed vegetables. Oh, and pastries with coffee, too. If you prefer tea, that’s extra.
The dinner menu is full of rich pasta, traditional German dishes, vegetarian dishes, meat dishes – all lovingly presented. The room is small enough so that you can get service quickly. It’s best to know some German before arriving, but the staff has good command of English and excellent command of body language.
The rooms do not have phones, but in emergencies, the staff will let you use their phones. They also will help you call a taxi if you can’t figure out the public transportation system. It’s best to pay for your meals and drinks with cash. Rooms do have a coffee machine, but if you prefer tea, do not try making tea in the coffee machine.
Some doors may seem to be stuck, but are not. You may have to slightly pull the door towards you before pushing it open (or vice versa, depending on how the door swings.)
Do not arrive hours before check-in time because the place will be closed for cleaning. If you do arrive early, there are plenty of shops, bakeries, pubs, a nearby park and a cinema to pass the time.