Having stayed (and enjoyed very much) the Axel Hotel in Buenos Aires, we were shocked at the astonishingly poor service and lack of respect we respect on our arrival in the Axel property in Berlin.
After check-in early on a Saturday afternoon for a three-night stay, we went to our room and discovered that the light bulb in the toilet room was burned out (the bathroom is divided with the toilet in a separate room). We called down and the front desk clerk himself (named Mathias, according to his badge) came up to the room. He took a quick look at the bulb and announced it was a "special" bulb that could not be easily changed. He said there was "absolutely nothing" that could be done about it until Monday as there would be no technician available until then. We informed Mathias that we were not going to stay in a room for two nights going to the toilet in the pitch dark. He said "perhaps" we could change rooms the next day (Sunday) but said it was "impossible" to change rooms that day (Saturday) because the hotel was all sold out. "All the other guests have checked in?" I asked. "No," he said. "Well then put us in another room and give the room with the burnt out bulb to someone else," I demanded. Mathias sighed. "I cannot possibly do that. It wouldn't be fair to those other guests."
I informed Mathias that we were not going to stay in the room and that we were going to re-assemble all our belongings and go down to the lobby until they put us in another room. We went down to the lobby, where we were subjected to insults and sarcasm by Mathias, who continued to insist there was nothing that could be done until Monday. When I suggested that he call someone and have them explain how to change the bulb so he could do it himself, he was aghast. "Do I look like I wear a blue uniform like a mechanic?" he asked. When I continued to insist that we were not going anywhere until the bulb or room was changed, he grew sarcastic. "Do you think you are the king?" he asked. "No," I responded. "I am a paying guest who expects a light in the bathroom." As Mathias was continuing to insist there was nothing that good be done, another person (not in a hotel uniform) intervened and tried to help Mathias explain why it was perfectly reasonable for hotel guests to stay in a room with no light in the bathroom. "Who are you?" I finally asked this other person. He informed me that his was Mathias' "friend." (The hotel manager later told me he also works for the hotel as a part-time masseur.)
After several more minutes of drama, the ever-surly Mathias made a phone call, got a ladder and went up to the room. Five minutes later he returned, threw the room key at me and announced the light bulb had been changed.
Throughout this adventure I repeatedly asked to speak with the manager. Mathias said the manager was off and would not be back until Monday. I asked to speak with him by phone. Mathias refused. "It's a private number," he announced. I told him he could call the number himself and just give me the phone. Mathias still refused. I asked for the manager's business card. Mathias gave me a hotel business card that did not have any individual's name on it. He told me to call the number on the card. "The manager will answer that number?" I asked. "No," he said. "If you call that number it will ring here and I will answer it." I declined to call the number.
Had the room not been pre-paid, I would have checked into another hotel, but we ended up staying for the entire three nights. On Monday I spoke with the hotel manager, who admitted that his desk clerk had acted inappropriately, but made excuses for him. "That doesn't sound like him. Maybe he was tired or in a bad mood." For our trouble, we got breakfast included in the rate.
The only good thing I can say about the whole incident is that the waiter from the restaurant (named Michael) who came to cover the desk was professional and polite. All the drama we endured from his colleague, Mathias, over a lightbulb that (it turned out) could be changed in five minutes was unacceptable. I have stayed in hotels all over the world and never experienced like what I experienced at the Axel Hotel in Berlin.
Despite the manager's efforts to make excuses, there is no excuse for the treatment we received. We will never stay in that hotel, or any Axel Hotel, again. The free breakfast was nice. Professional treatment at check-in would have been nicer.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located in Schöneberg, the heart of the gay scene in the city, Axel Hotel Berlin is fascinating for its cosmopolitan spirit and delicious, by the careful combination of design and comfort, and for excellent service. The charm and elegant mix of gold on black, overlay and textures make Axel Hotel Berlin a unique space in the German capital. With 87 design rooms, fully equipped to provide guests with maximum confort and a different stay. ... more less
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