Die Bleiche is an iconic Berlin escape. It’s always on top of every list of recommended hotels around Berlin (even mine). A trip to Die Bleiche has become an annual pilgrimage for some people here. It’s also one of the more expensive indulgences you could reward yourself with. With 3 pools, plenty of saunas, lavish furnishing, a full-board program and the beautiful landscape around the estate, it’s hard not to fall in love with it (and even harder to keep your budget in check).
We stayed at Die Bleiche for three days in total, in a very quiet time just before Christmas. I had visited the hotel on a previous trip to the biosphere reserve of Spreewald. I had been immediately stunned by the gorgeously large rooms and the tasteful interior design and so decided to come back, this time not just for a tour around the house.
The price awarded spa is extraordinary. Finnish sauna, steam baths, a Japanese jacuzzi – and that’s only the ones I can remember off the top of my head. Even if you’re not a big sauna fan, the wellness area will take your breath away.
There’s a heated outdoor pool as well as a mesmerizing indoor pool by the fire, plenty of romantic fireplaces and comfortable recliners, and even a spa cinema with a well assorted program that is so snug and cozy that I’m tearing up thinking about it. If you ever needed to be pampered in big style, this is your place to be. The complimentary soups, cakes, coffee and sparkling wine in the spa bistro, the immersive table books and games, and plenty of different venues to discover will definitely help even the most worked up helicopter mom wind down for a few serene moments.
Speaking of helicopter moms: I was relieved to see that there was a dedicated family pool. Although there were many families (much more than I expected – somehow I was sold on this hotel as an intimate affair, not a generation-project), the noise level was acceptable.
But I don’t want to sugarcoat the one crucial disappointment of our stay (one which has deterred me so far from going back or recommending it to other people): the food. And, to some extend, the service.
Food & Service at Bleiche
The minimum for a night’s stay per person in the room we stayed in (the large room with the small bathroom) is around 230€ per person per night [1. the smallest room comes to around 170 € PAX/night], which includes the full boarding. Not counting additional drinks or extra treatments at the spa, that’s a lot of buck. I can tolerate lacking service or flavor when the budget is in the medium range, but at that price (and with no other choice but to take the full boarding offer), I expect a cuisine that is on point.
Unfortunately, it was mostly mediocre with a sprinkle of are you kidding me. First of all, the website promises a breakfast buffet and a “5 course evening menu”. We had expected the breakfast buffet, which turned out to be alright, but I have long shed any hope for a buffet that exceeds expectations.
The 5 course evening menu – that was just another buffet, basically split into 5 different booths. While there was some variance from day to day, there was nothing exciting, interesting or loving about the food. Sure, there are two booths dedicated exclusively to sausage and cheese, but if you’re not a big sausage and cheese fan, you’re working with the same old evening buffet that you can find in any run of the mill franchise hotel: rather bland fare.
Our booking deal even included one special “gourmet” menu. And it was… not good. Lackluster ingredients were paired with bland flavors. When, after around 90 minutes of waiting, our 2nd course still hadn’t appeared, we politely asked whether it was possible to speed up the process. The waiter then kindly informed us that “this is a FINE DINING establishment and FINE DINING takes time”, as if we were little peasants who were somehow awarded the privilege of his care and condescension. To be fair, the Michelin awarded restaurant at the Bleiche 17fuffzig was closed for renovations during our stay, so perhaps our experience is slightly skewed from the average. Regardless, I’d still love to give Bleiche another chance to persuade me.
The Bleiche 5 Star Spa
The Spa is what makes Bleiche an outstanding destination. Forget everything around you and simply indulge in the carefully chosen decor, the cozy and plush Chaiselongues, and even in the heated winter pool. We enjoyed a splendid (albeit tough) massage and fell asleep in the wellness zone after the sauna. At the Bios Bistro (which is part of the Spa itself), we had delicious pumpkin soup, champagne and cake in the afternoon. We idly flicked through the books, stretched out in front of the chimney like kittens and – the highlight of the spa – watched movies in the spa cinema.
The spa cinema at Bleiche alone is worth the whole trip and one of my biggest reasons to return. Imagine: all day, you get to laze in a lavish recliner, butt naked (but wrapped into an opulent bathing robe, of course) watching movies of all kind on the big screen. What a time to be alive.
No matter what you think about the price, the spa experience at Bleiche is worth the invest. Even if the gym and the rooms are a little tatty, the pools and the plushy recliners really do make up for it. And regardless of the food, which may or may not have been the standard quality, I’ll still recommend a stay.