Hotel & Room Reaction
The hotel is located in the Beisheim building, which is extremely well-located, right next to Potsdamer Platz and in walking distance of the Brandenburger Gate, Tiergarten, and Reichstag. The exterior is fairly restrained pale limestone, with the entrance facing the underground public transport station and diagonally across the Sony Center. Various other hotels (Marriott, Mandala) are close by.
The contrast between the exterior and interior is.... noticeable. Gone is any sign of restraint: this is in-your-face luxury. Think gold plating, lots of polished marble, dark wood, chandeliers, heavy-set furniture, sweeping lobby staircase, more marble, more gold plating, frilly/fugly carpeting in the hallways, tassels on the drapes, more dark wood, more gold plating, more chandeliers (down to tiny chandelier-shaped light bulbs in the shower), more everything.
It's luxurious no doubt, but not to everyone's preference. If you know the Ritz-Carlton hotels a little, it's more San Francisco or New York/Central Park than Tokyo or Georgetown.
I will say that it is all very solidly built though - some of the heaviest doors I have seen in a hotel room, both to the corridor and to the bathroom. It all closes with a nice "clunk" to it. An entry foyer with hardwood floors has minibar and closets and bathroom to left or right.
This leads to the main room; almost all of which are fairly straightforward hotel layout. Bed(s) to the one side, drawer with tv and desk to the other side. Throw in a chair and side table and the room is complete.
While you can argue over the decor, you can not fault many of the nice touches that make the rooms work really well. Bedside panels that control room lighting, bed-side lighting, and do-not-disturb all at the touch of a button.
A fourth button with the symbol of the moon turns on a small night light under the bedside table so you can get up without disturbing a partner or roommate. Slippers, bathrobes, i-pod docking station, flat screen tv with DVD player, it's all there. Wireless or wired (while not free, to be discussed later on) works like a charm.
Brasserie Debrosses serves breakfast and dinner. Lunch I believe as well, but I didn't use this here. Breakfast is an extensive buffet (continental or full American) or a la carte. Full American is pricey at 38EUR, Continental goes for 25EUR.
A glass of juice a la carte will set you back 7.50EUR (yes, that's 11 dollars or whatever the exchange rate is these days). The same through room service is 8.50EUR, which I think is the highest I have ever seen quoted for this in a long time. What a rip-off. The quality of the food is excellent though.
Evening is clearly much better value - I want to say about 20-30EUR for a main course, with 3EUR for a side of vegetables or potatoes. Again excellent food quality. Atmosphere is informal by Ritz-Carlton standards, and fits in with various other locations moving away from the traditional "The Dining Room at..." concept.
In the basement is a spa, with various treatments on offer (LaPrairie products), a small gym, pool, and sauna (one men/women, one women only). Lockers are available and come stocked with a full set of toiletries, slippers, and robes. Carafes with fresh water with either lemon or apple slices are available everywhere.
What I Liked
Silence. Pure silence in the rooms. Courtesy of the above-mentioned quality and heaviness of the doors, the rooms are blissfully silent - not a whisper comes through from corridors. Even with the hardwood entry foyers, no noise from the rooms above. Bathrooms are spacious and feature separate shower and toilet cubicle, which is a nice set up.
Rain shower has great pressure, with a separate hand-held shower available. One of the marble tiles at face level (for an average person) is a mirror, which I'm sure the male population that shaves while showering would appreciate. Massive tub. Double vanities with hidden cabinets behind mirrors on the side, so you can neatly stow any toiletries you bring.
What I Didn't Like
I feel like I'm on repeat when it comes to this but 23,95EUR for 24 hrs of Wifi? Boo. At least it worked well. Being woken up by the radio blasting music into the room because housekeeping had forgotten to delete a previous guest' alarm wasn't my favorite moment.
The sound quality of the docking station was poor to the extent that it was terrible to listen to. Truth is, it is nearly impossible to run a hotel that offers perfect stays to every guest day-in day-out. I think you can tell a lot by how it deals with situations where things are less than stellar.
A few small issues that I mentioned at check-out where swiftly taken care of with a small deduction of my final bill - which I didn't expect and wasn't angling for. The fact that it was done so quickly and matter-of-factly (I believe R-C employees have a certain level of authority to offer guests financial compensation without questions being asked), made a really good impression.
All in all, should you stay here? Berlin has an exceptional number of five-star hotels at great prices, so your choice should really be influenced by what kind of hotel you like. The Ritz-Carlton cannot be faulted for location, hard product, and service - like the decor or not, an excellent hotel it is.