Monday, December 13, 2010

Personal thoughts on places to stay in Shanghai, Hamburg and Berlin

In the last couple of years I've had the good fortune of staying in some beautifully renovated hotels.  One was the Hotel Adlon Kempinski in Berlin, another was the Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten in Hamburg and the last and most recent one was the Fairmont Peace Hotel in Shanghai.  The following is some of my thoughts on both the restoration work performed and the quality of the experience with 10 being excellent and 1 being poor.

Hotel Adlon Kempinski:
- Restoration: 10.  The room was spectular.  Very modern and spacious.  The hotel was beautiful inside and out.
- Service: 10.  Impeccable.  German efficiency at its best.  The staff was friendly and helpful.
- Price: 9.  For the service and amenities, the Adlon is hard to beat.  Just be prepared to pay for it.
- Overall, this hotel ranks as one of the best I've ever stayed in.  I often compare other hotel's amenities and service to the Adlon.  Their location next to the Brandenburg Gate, Tier Garten and other historical sights is fantastic.

Fairmont Hotel Jahr Viereszeiten:
- Restoration: 9.5.  There was still restoration work being performed, but overall they have done a great job.
- Service: 9.  There was a slight communication error about whether or not the breakfast was included in the price.  The staff graciously removed other charges from the bill to compensate.
- Price: 9. An excellent hotel in a great location, but is a good value for the money.
- Overall, this is a wonderful property right on the Binnenalster.  One warning though, when I stayed earlier in 2010, Germans were still permitted to smoke in the hotel rooms.  I used one of my upgrade vouchers for a suite and was shown to what had to be the largest and most beautiful suite I had ever seen.  Unfortunately, the smell of cigarette smoke was too much for me and I had to downgrade to a smaller suite.

Fairmont Peace Hotel:
- Restoration: 10.5.  They set a new standard for restoration work with this hotel.  The room was wonderfully appointed.  The fitness room is very up-to-date and the pool is beautiful.  An excellent example of Art Deco architecture with most of the glass and chandeliers being originals.
- Service: 8.  The Fairmont re-opened this property in July of 2010, and while Fairmont is typically known for impeccable service, the staff at the Peace Hotel has room for improvement.  Be forewarned, the Chinese culture is not one known for "service" and you will find that the staff at the Peace Hotel definitely outperform compared to other local establishments.  Most of the issues were minor and easily fixable, but they are noticeable to those used to staying in Western and European hotels.
- Price: 8.  The price for the room is comparable to other hotels in the area and on its own would get a 10.  The price for dining is very steep and for the service received, I'd have to give it a 6.  Even if the service was impeccable, the price for dining would only get an 8.
- Overall, this is a beautiful property on the Bund in a wonderfully restored Art Deco building right on the Nanjing Road.  There is a bit of a culture shock that occurs here because inside the hotel it feels like you could be in any of the wonderful Fairmonts through the world, but as you step out of the hotel you are hounded by locals selling watches, bags, etc.  The.  The service can use some fine tuning to adjust to be more attentive and responsive. If you are heading to Shanghai, this is definitely THE place to stay.