Why I’m Loyal to Intercontinental

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Berlin

My first job out of college wasn’t a typical one.

After weeks of interviews, I was ecstatic to get a job at a marketing firm that had a beautiful office, a great location in Fort Point, Boston, and an interviewer who coyly hinted at their list of celebrity clients. I accepted the job and couldn’t wait to get started.

Soon I learned that this “marketing firm” was actually a call center.

Thankfully, I wasn’t taking calls. My job as a research assistant for the concierge department of an elite credit card was to take on the complicated tasks passed on from those who took the calls. Not simple things like making dining reservations or ordering flowers, but things like planning marriage proposals and securing sold-out Superbowl tickets sold at sky-high rates. I acquired an encyclopedic knowledge of New York restaurants and Las Vegas nightclubs in the process.

My weirdest task? Tracking down a puppy born in rural Japan with a heart-shaped spot on its butt for a Los Angeles-based socialite who yearned to be in tabloids. She wouldn’t rest until I had her, the Japanese pet store, and a translator on the line simultaneously as the owners told her, “It’s OUR puppy and we are raising it OURSELVES!”

I knew it wasn’t a forever job for me — but it was fun. And my coworkers were fantastic. There were dozens of us in our early twenties, and the social aspects couldn’t be better. We’d head out for post-work drinks several times a week.

One of the places we frequented? The Intercontinental.

Berlin

Just across the channel, the Intercontinental Boston was where we went to commiserate, to celebrate, to feel important. And because they had a 24-hour French bistro (that has sadly since closed), it was the only way those of us working the 2-10:30 PM shift could actually indulge in Restaurant Week.

We weren’t the wealthy business travelers that filled the hotel — thanks to our company’s lax dress code, we looked like hobos by comparison. (More often than not, I showed up in my favorite t-shirt that read SILF and had a picture of a sandwich on it.)

But that didn’t matter to the staff at the Intercontinental. We were treated with outstanding service by every employee that crossed our path, and even though a bunch of 22-year-olds earning $14.00 an hour had no business being in a luxury hotel, they made us feel like we belonged.

That was especially welcoming on the rough days, like the day the company’s most vitriol-filled client told me that his mother was close to death, but he was off to cheat on his wife in Chicago over the weekend, so if she died in the next few days, could we put her on ice? (I am 100% serious. This man was awful. And I had to act like he was hilarious because I was the one person at the company he could stand.)

On days when we felt worthless, at the Intercontinental, we were treated like we deserved to be there.

Those post-work nights at the Intercontinental made me a fan of the brand for life, and when I booked my trip to Cancun shortly after leaving that job, I chose the Intercontinental. A few years later, I got to enjoy the Intercontinental Amman on my trip to Jordan. While these three hotels couldn’t be more different, I was treated just as I was in Boston — like I was the most important person who could possibly grace their lobby.

I loved that.

Berlin

And then, to my delight, the Intercontinental Berlin emailed me and invited me to experience them for myself.

Berlin is one of my favorite cities — I consider it my “spiritual city.” It’s artsy, it’s cheap, and it’s always been a haven to people who have trouble fitting in. On a perfect spring day with puffy white clouds streaking across a bright blue sky, you’ll be convinced that there’s no better city on the planet.

The Intercontinental Berlin is located right by the Tiergarten and a 10-minute walk from the Zoolischer Garten stop, which gives you easy access all over the city via public transportation, including direct buses to Tegel Airport. A cab from the Hauptbahnhof cost me about 10 EUR ($14 USD).

Intercontinental Berlin

My modern suite in the building’s recently redone wing was decorated in white, pearl gray, and red — a combination I really enjoyed. The bed couldn’t have been more comfortable, and in German style, there were two separate duvets on a king-sized bed and multiple pillows.

Intercontinental Berlin

One of my favorite hotel amenities is so simple — a couch. It’s so much better to do work while sitting down, and after not having a couch for nearly a year, it was absolutely brilliant getting to sit down on one, stretching out and reading!

Intercontinental Berlin

The bathroom was enormous, and went on further back to include a closet and dressing space. Note that the clear doors means either you and your roommate have to either take turns or you should have no shame whatsoever!

I didn’t like the fact that the only free internet available in the room was slow internet, and high-speed internet costs an extra 20 EUR ($27 USD) per day. I find it ridiculous that even in this day and age, many luxury hotels charge exorbitant rates for internet when the vast majority of hostels provide it for free without a second thought. It’s something that I hope changes soon.

Intercontinental Berlin Whirlpool

The spa was perfect after a long day of walking all over the city. If you haven’t been to a German spa before, know that coed naked saunas are the norm. At the Intercontinental Berlin, the spa itself — which includes saunas, a hammam-style steam room, and a Finnish sauna with ice, as well as showers of varying strengths and temperatures, is naked and coed.

This whirlpool was strong enough to spin you around. I may have had a bit too much fun in there.

Outside at the pool and whirlpool, though, bathing suits are required. I loved how the pool lit up in bright cerulean and indigo — two of my favorite colors.

Interconti Berlin Pool

And my single favorite thing at the hotel? The breakfast buffet.

Intercontinental Breakfast

While plenty of Europeans don’t do much for breakfast (see the French, Italians, Spaniards, etc.), Germans are the opposite. Breakfast is a serious affair here with meats, breads and cheeses taking center stage — and the Intercontinental Berlin had one of the largest breakfast buffets I’ve ever seen.

Every morning, I’d load up on cured salmon with extra horseradish sauce, custom omelets, plain yogurt with pureed strawberries, and the crispiest, most candy-like bacon I’ve had in my life. I’m still pining for that fabulous bacon.

But what struck me most about the Intercontinental Berlin is what struck me all those years ago as a 22-year-old concierge: here, every move the staff made was to provide me with the most comfortable stay possible. A certain head of state was also staying at the Intercontinental Berlin during my visit — while I won’t give it away, I’ll say it’s a country that has very high expectations for luxury travel — and I’m sure that’s why they came to trust the Intercontinental as well.

I felt like a million bucks walking through this hotel, and that feeling is priceless.

Essential Info: Rates at the Intercontinental Berlin start at 153 EUR ($207 USD). High-speed internet is an extra 20 EUR ($27 USD) per day.

Indoor smoking is common in Berlin and throughout Germany, so be sure to request a nonsmoking room.

There’s a great Greek restaurant across the street from the Intercontinental called JA! Niko! JA! I definitely recommend hitting it up.

Many thanks to the Intercontinental Berlin for hosting me for five nights. All opinions, as always, are my own. Pool and whirlpool photos are courtesy of the hotel.

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24 thoughts on “Why I’m Loyal to Intercontinental”

      1. As a Royal Ambassador I’m very lucky to get the extra bonuses when staying at an Intercontinental. Out of all my years of travelling I would have to say my top 3 are the Le Grand in Paris, Intercontinental Bangkok and the Grand Stanford in Hong Kong. I will be heading back to Asia for fun in September and have already booked my stay in Hong Kong and Bangkok. If you ever get a chance to checkout these locations please do so as you won’t be disappointed. I haven’t stay in Berlin but because of your review I’m going to check it out!!

        Thanks.

  1. Great place sadly way over what my budget can afford.

    Except if……They allow camping in their garden? 😀

    Anyway : I would love to see this sandwich tee-shirt you are talking about …post idea?:)

    Cheers from Sweden!

  2. Wow…this sounds absolutely fantastic. I’ve never experienced a stay at the Intercontinental but I’m definitely going to add it to my must-do-at-least-once list!

  3. Nice story about your first job. I don’t see how you managed to stay friendly to that customer from hell, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have 🙂
    The hotel sure looks like a good place to stay in Berlin!

  4. I love the beautiful pool! 🙂 And I totally agree about the wifi! I’ve stayed in some beautiful luxury hotels and only a handful provide free internet. Not trying to be cheap but being forced to pay for internet really sours my feelings toward a hotel. Like you said, hostels provide it for free!

  5. That’s so lovely that the business has clearly chosen to create a culture where all guests are treated as important, no matter who they are. There are so many hotels that look down on you if you don’t conform to a certain demographic. But at the end of the day, a guest is a guest.

  6. There’s only one word for that horrible client of yours and I won’t use it here. The hotel however looks incredible although the cost of internet alone is already more than my total budget!

  7. I actually gasped when is read about that client! I work in advertising and I’m used to strange requests, but that is absolutely bonkers!

    The hotel looks amazing though, that pool? Seriously, I could be very happy there.

  8. I’m so pleased that you had a lovely time in my city Kate, and yes, it was awesome meeting you! I’m always delighted when people have great times in Berlin and yeah, you’re pretty head-on with your description of Berlin, as “artsy, cheap, and it’s always been a haven to people who have trouble fitting in.” Er. Perhaps!
    Of course, because I’m an expat I’ve never actually been to a hotel in Berlin but that is soon about to change LOL! Great stuff. 🙂

  9. Why luxury hotels charge for wifi and hostels dont:

    Does someone decide whether to stay at a luxury hotel based on free wifi? No

    Does someone decide whether to stay at a hostel based on free wifi? Yes.

    Do people who stay at luxury hotels typically have decent data plans on their iphones? Yes
    If they don’t, can they typically easily afford the twenty euros for wifi? Probably. If they’re on business, definitely.

    And that’s why it costs for wifi.

  10. I’m hugely loyal to the Intercontinental brand however I may have slept around over the last few months; oops! The Intercontinental Berlin is amazing; they were so lovely when we stayed earlier this year. They serve the best gluten free breakfast I have had to date and they bought me birkenstocks for my birthday (very social media savvy!). xx

  11. I’m not yet on a budget that allows me afford a place like this, but when I can, you bet I’ll be staying with these guys. I love that you were made to feel so comfortable all those years ago. That kind of thing is really important to me too.
    I absolutely agree about the wifi though. If a hostel can manage fast, free wifi – surely a hotel like this can.

  12. Coudln’t agree more! I got to stay in the Singapore InterContinental for $1 (serioulsy!) as part of the fantastic Singapore Stopover Program. Our room was so amazing that I didn’t even want to go out exploring- especially after staying in cheaper Asian hostels for the past month 😉

  13. I stayed at the intercontinental in Johannesburg for one night during a quick stopover on my way back home and it was absolutely marvelous! I’ve stayed at the Hilton in Hawaii as well as a few other nice hotels, and that intercontinental put them all to shame.

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