One of my favorite things to do is to stay in another neighborhood of Berlin. I’m especially excited about testing out hotels and guesthouses in parts of the city that are foreign to me – for example, Mitte (or at least some parts of it – I used to live in Wedding, around 10 years ago, so it isn’t all exotic to me. In fairness, though, almost everything has changed). So when I was invited to try out the new container rooms of the i31 Boutique Hotel on Invalidenstraße, I promptly packed up my things and headed off for exploration and discovery.
Guest at i(nvalidenstraße)31
Location is everything, and can’t really go wrong with choosing a hotel on Invalidenstraße: it’s as central as central can be and ideal for a first time in Berlin. Adjacent to the Nordbahnhof and a tram line right in front of the hotel, it took me 15 minutes on the U6 to get to i31 (aptly named after street and number) from Kreuzberg. Whether you’re in town for a shopping spree or a party, this is quite the perfect distance to anywhere in the city. In fact: much more so than a rental apartment in a residential district, where it’s often a bit tedious to get around without being mobile.
The i31 Boutique Hotel seems inconspicuous at first, but reveals a spacious and gracious interior upon entrance. The lobby is welcoming, as is the staff at the reception. Behind the bar, the breakfast restaurant hints at what’s to follow the next morning.
The terrace is a small but precious little oasis in the middle of the city, and although it was a bit cold when we visited, we lounged on the sun chairs whenever we were blessed with even the faintest bit of sun.
A different thing: the i31 container rooms
The newish container rooms of the i31 are pretty special and quite literally what the name suggests: containers built between the building of the i31 hotel and the adjacent apartment complex. Like studios, the containers offer a very interesting mix of stylish urbanism and pragmatic use of space. I didn’t expect to have my own terrace and my own proper #tinyhouse, but I was pleasantly surprised.
The container rooms are ideal for couples who want to experience the wild side of Berlin without any lack of comfort and a certain splash of luxury. One the one hand, the rooms are cozy and functional; but on the other, i31 offers their guests a complimentary mini-bar (water, coke and juice for free!), chocolate and even a turn-over at night (with a home-brewed lemonade and a package of mixed-nuts for their guests). There’s nothing that grinds my gears more than over-priced water bottles at hotels, so this was indeed a refreshing discovery.
As for the rest of the hotel: it caters perfectly to young visitors who are keen on exploring Berlin from a highly practical vantage point. Not only does i31 Hotel offer their guests bike rentals, there are also 3 e-Scooters available to rent for free – any guest with a valid European driver’s license can thus ride into the sunset of Berlin at no further costs at all. To add to that, there’s also a sauna and a 24/7 gym at i31. I didn’t get to test the sauna, but I loved the gym, which packed three treadmills, yoga mats, dumbbells and a bench with an oly barbell. By the way: a lacking gym is one of my pet peeves when staying at hotels. One barbell is the bare minimum, guys!
What to do around i31 Hotel
Since we’d arrived on a sunny (albeit cold) Sunday, we decided to explore the neighborhood on a casual walk along the Spree. We made it all the way down to the Regierungsviertel and then back up before eating out at Lokal. Other notable landmarks and recommendations near i31 are:
- Natural History Museum (4 minutes walking distance)
- Rutz Weinbar (Michelin-star awarded wine bar, 6 minutes walking distance)
- Bundestag / Haus der Kulturen der Welt (20 minutes walking distance)
Now there are plenty of other things to see and explore near i31, but I wouldn’t even know where to start. My core principles of traveling are always: just keep walking and always try to get lost. Even after ten years of living in Berlin, I still discover new things everywhere, and so I can only recommend walking across the city and using this hotel’s prime location as your starting point.
Upon returning from our dinner at Lokal (which I love for it’s interior and staff, but was a bit too courageous in terms of flavors and thus didn’t convince me this time), we basically drowned in our comfortable King Size bed and were fast asleep in seconds.
Great breakfast, great value
The biggest surprise awaited the morning after. The breakfast at i31 Hotel is, I dare say, the perfect iteration of a hotel breakfast. Although it’s a buffet (and I hope everyone knows at this point how I feel about buffets), it is obviously a very carefully curated assortment of exactly the right breakfast things. There are a few warm choices (scrambled egg, sausages, etc), but the obvious high quality cuts of meat, cheese, smoked fish and fresh breads have ultimately won my heart over. Actually: it was the mild yet effective filter coffee, served in a proper coffee can, that elevated my morning to the next level. There is nothing – nothing- I despise more than hotel breakfast buffets with a lazy coffee machine; you know the fully automated ones, the ones you’ll inevitably find at motorway stations, mediocre bakeries and hospitals; coffee machines that stand for everything that is wrong in this world, namely cheap plastics as well as paradoxically bitter and sour but somehow still too thin and too hot coffee.
Yes, I feel that strongly about hotel coffee. I’ve been to luxury boutique hotels that were four times the price of the i31 that had automated-coffee-machines-buffets, and I’ve made it my life’s mission to call them out and leave bad reviews for them. Down with the Plörre!
Anyway – the breakfast at i31 Hotel costs 17,50€ for non-guests or can be booked as part of your stay, and it’s a really fantastic value. The fig-bread, the soy yogurt, the sparkling wine and the assortment of fruits (that wasn’t just papaya, but also lovely strawberries, apples and mango) alone make up for the price. I’ve had avocado toasts in Kreuzberg with two grains of sea salt that were pricier than the full spread at i31 Hotel.
All in all, I was very happy and content with my stay at i31 Hotel. I did not get to try the hotel bar or the afternoon snacks, and it was unfortunately too cold to explore more of the immediate neighborhood in Mitte, but this is a hotel I would honestly recommend to friends and family who want to travel in style while staying conscious of their budget. For a first-time stay in Berlin, the i31 Hotel is your perfect choice – and don’t miss out on the breakfast!