I spent the second half of July on a business trip to a conference in Berlin, Germany, and then a lab outside Toulouse, France. Unfortunately for both of us, Leandra couldn’t go, so I was solo on this trip. All of my flights were on oneworld carriers, including Air Berlin from JFK-Berlin (they had nice entertainment screens, but legroom was tight in coach), British Air, and American Airlines on the way back (including a surprise upgrade to business class for the London-JFK flight).
Hotel Alsterhof Berlin – I picked this hotel primarily for its location next to two major metro stops plus the good breakfast reviews. Location was spot on with an easy 2 minute walk to the metro stop that took me all around town. As advertised, they had a nice breakfast selection with the typical European spread of cheeses, meats, granola, breads, etc. The sour cherry jam was awesome, and eating outdoors was a nice bonus. You could also order eggs and bacon to your liking. All in all, a good way to prepare for an all day conference.
The rooms themselves were a bit small, which was ok for just me but would have been tight with two. My room looked quite modern but it was hard to unpack with the tiny closet and lack of drawers, plus no chair for the desk! The hotel has free wifi and I found good connections in my room and for breakfast, but there was the minor hassle of asking for a new code every 24 hours for each device. Finally, the hotel bar had a reasonable deal on wine, with a 2dl pour for 4E, and they had a few outdoor tables that closed at 11p. I like this hotel but there are many other options in Berlin that I would also consider in the future.
Mercure Toulouse Compans Caffarelli– Chosen since a colleague was also staying here. The location on the edge of inner ring was decent, with a 10 min walk to the center. The hotel is right next to a metro stop but I didn’t have the chance to use it. Rooms were a bit dated but comfortable with lots of space for unpacking, a nice desk area, and small couch. The bed was a bit stiff for my taste.
The breakfast was fine with fresh bread, cheeses, scrambled eggs, and a juicer with fresh oranges.
Ampersand Hotel – I needed a quick place to overnight in London, so I stayed here due to their reputation and location just around the corner from the South Kensington tube stop. The Ampersand was definitely swanky and did not disappoint!
The room was London sized (so smallish) but very comfortable. A minibar with free water, juice, and soda was hidden in a nightstand and the desk had an assortment of power and video plugs.
The tiled bathroom featured some great-smelling soaps that were taken home for Leandra, along with a rubber ducky! Finally, their restaurant looked nice when I stopped in for a whiskey though I did not try any food.