Get Up & Go: The Circus Hotel

Junior Suite at The Circus Hotel
Junior Suite at The Circus Hotel

My recent trip to Europe was my first real, grown-up trip to Europe. Previous trips involved rushed planning, occasional reluctant couch surfing, and lots of stays in hostels. But at 28, my days of successfully sharing a room with a half dozen other people or happily falling asleep on an IKEA bunk bed are a thing of the past. The prospect of staying in a hotel was great, but the task of sorting through the word vomit that often qualifies as reviews on various travel sites proved to be a daunting task.

The easiest (and best) hotel choice I made during Eurotrip 2013 was The Circus Hotel in Berlin. It is a centrally located sibling of the popular Circus Hostel (my taxi driver told me people frequently get confused about which place they’re staying, since they’re quite close to each other). I was feeling fancy, so I booked a Junior Suite for 110 Euros a night. The room was pretty big, especially by European standards (and it was exactly the same price per night as my closet-sized hotel room in Paris).

I didn’t spend too much time in my room because Berlin beckoned, but the time I did spend in my room was wonderful. My room faced the courtyard portion of the in-house restaurant, and there were a couple of nights during my stay that were especially warm and so I kept the windows open but wasn’t disturbed at all by my fellow guests.

The restaurant itself was absolutely fantastic. On my first night, I somehow managed to lug my extremely jet lagged body to the bar/restaurant for dinner and to listen to a

local jazz trio. The food was delicious, the atmosphere calm and relaxing, and the drinks stiff.

Beer and Schnitzel at Fabisch
Beer and Schnitzel

The front desk staff was extremely helpful, offering tips of places to eat and drink in other neighborhoods, helping me print out a pass to the Reichstag, and assisting me in booking a taxi to the train station on my last day in Berlin.

My fellow guests ranged in age from late 20s to late 50s, an age range which means that the hallways were quiet at night, and the bar and restaurant were filled with the gentle murmur of conversation rather than the bubbly almost delirious conversation of students on their first trip abroad (for that experience, visit The Circus Hostel).

When I go back to Berlin (because I absolutely will), I plan on booking at The Circus Hotel. It was an excellent start to my Eurotrip, and I only wish I’d had the same luck when booking my hotel in Paris.

The Circus Hotel Berlin

Get Up & Go: Berlin

vscocam510 (1)When I told people I’d be starting my Eurotrip in Berlin, they almost uniformly asked “Why?” And not in a normal, curious way, but in a tone that suggested I’d said I was heading to Afghanistan for a beach vacation. And to be perfectly honest, I can’t really offer up a good explanation of why I decided to go to Berlin, I just really wanted to. In college, I was assigned the task of writing a 20-page research paper on German environmental policy, a task I balked at because my professor had explicitly forbidden me from having France. But throughout the course of my research, I became fascinated by post-Cold War Germany. A country that spent the better part of the 20th century either at war or recovering from war had taken it upon itself to devote significant time and energy to the creation of a greener country. My research indicated that it was part of a broader feeling that the country owed a kind of debt to the rest of the world, but to me, it also indicated a sort of pragmatism that I admired (and that my own home country frequently lacks).

Truth in Advertising (Berlin, you are so wonderful)
Truth in Advertising (Berlin, you are so wonderful)

Still, it never occurred to me to visit. I’m petrified of going to countries where I don’t speak the language. Yes, I know that many people speak English, but I don’t want to be the sort of American who travels to another country and expects everyone to speak my language. But last year, after a particularly eventful episode of The Amazing Race (yep) set in Bavaria, combined with assurances from many friends that Germans were friendlier about language skills than I might think, I decided it was time.

I planned to spend four days in Berlin and four days in Bavaria, where I’d visit a friend from college. I mastered “I’d like a beer, please,” and “Where are the bathrooms?” and prepared for Deutschland.

And let me tell you, I was pleasantly surprised.

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