on May 8, 2010
~Getting there~My flight arrived at Bremen airport at 10 pm. Since I didn't know where I was going I took a taxi which cost me Euro25 which is about Euro10 more than a taxi to the city centre. I found myself in the middle of a high tech but very empty university area, filled with 'institutes of this' and 'departments of that' and eventually, the Atlantic came into view. It's not a hotel chain that I'm familiar with - even though they have at least three hotels in Bremen alone - so I had little idea of what to expect.I stepped out of the taxi and found two very contrasting buildings. Ahead of me a box-like block that formed the hotel. To the side was a large silver curvy building which turned out to be the Universum, Bremen's most popular museum. It looks - whether intentionally or not - like a large silver fish, an effect that's accentuated by its position surrounded by a pool of water.~First Impressions~The hotel lobby was a large atrium-style room with a very high ceiling. The wooden floor was polished to a gleam and funky orange arm chairs were lined up down one side of the lobby next to the floor-to-ceiling windows. The hard edges were softened somewhat by lush pot plants and at the far end of the lobby I came to the bright yellow reception desk. The bar and restaurant are opposite the reception in a large room that bulges out towards the Universum lake. At the end of the lobby are stairs and lifts to the upper floors and a door to the left takes you to the car park.Check in was quick and trouble free. They took my credit card details, asked me to fill in a registration card with my address and then issued me with a room key. My room was on the first floor and I headed up a half-flight of stairs and along a wide corridor decorated in orange and grey carpets. At this point my mind was thinking 'easyJet orange' and I was almost reluctant to open the door to the room for fear of what crimes against style might be revealed.~The Room~There was nothing to worry about. The room was large - certainly larger than the other three hotels I've used in Bremen - and tidy. The colour scheme was a bit odd with one bright orange wall and the rest a shade of 'greige' that I couldn't quite define due to the rather dim lighting. I checked the view - a car park - and closed the heavy light-insulating curtains before taking stock of what the room had to offer. The carpet was beige and slightly marked. I don't think beige is ever a good colour for institutional carpeting so the marks were neither surprising nor a cause for concern. There were two single beds pushed together, each with their own duvets, each of which was folded on the bed. It's a perpetual puzzle to me why German (and Dutch) hotels like to play origami with their duvets. The pillows were large and very soft - again, typical traits of German hotels. The bedding was bright white cotton.On the wall opposite the bed I found a range of battleship-grey cupboards and other storage units all suspended from the wall. These included two suitcase stands (hoorah), a hanging rail, a tall cupboard which probably contained lots of useful things but I forgot to open it and check. Next was a smaller vertical cupboard and then two horizontal units, one containing the mini-bar and the other with glasses and non-chilled mini-bar items.There was a tub chair with a small tall coffee table and a desk with a rattan chair, an Anglepoise lamp and lots of electrical sockets. The television was small and old-style and didn't - according to the channel list - offer anything in English so I didn't switch it on. My visit was over the night before and the night of the General Election so a good excuse to cut myself off from the media was much appreciated.The overall effect of the room was a sort of classy version of 'IKEA meets student residence', if you can imagine such a thing; functional, tidy and clean, but possibly trying a little too hard. By contrast the bathroom was a very pleasant surprise. The sink unit was large with a rectangular ceramic sink and a large well lit mirror. The toilet was wall mounted and there was a bath with a power shower over and even a small rubber duck. I know it sounds silly to be excited by a bath, but I do always feel cheated by a hotel with only a shower. The toiletries on offer were very basic. A panel of the wall and floor were decorated in sparkling glass swimming pool tiles in shades of blue and green which toned nicely with the frosted glass door. If you are squeamish, don't forget to close the bathroom door as there's a large mirror on the wall outside and not everyone wants to sit and look at themselves sitting on the toilet.My room was completely quiet and I wasn't disturbed by any noise during the night and I slept very well. One thing I didn't much like was the absence of any kind of net curtains in the room. Since I overlooked the car park and a small river, there wasn't a lot going on outside but I did feel a bit 'exposed'.~Breakfast Buffet~I'd checked whether breakfast was included in my rate and since it was I had breakfast on the first morning and was impressed by the breadth of the selection of hot and cold food. The coffee wasn't brilliant - but this is Germany, it was German-style coffee and it's not my cup of tea (so to speak). The tables were quickly cleared and there were plenty of them so I didn't struggle to get a space. I noticed that from some of the restaurant tables there were really pleasant views out over the water towards the giant silver fish.~Transport Connections~I'd read in the hotel details in my room that Tram number 6 runs close to the hotel. I'm a big fan of the Bremen tram system and I buy tram tickets in bulk so I can use them whenever I want. I got instructions from the receptionist and found the stop was just a few minutes walk from the hotel. This got me into the city centre and dropped me at the railway station in about 10 minutes. I think the regular fare is about Euro2.50 but I'm still using tickets I bought for Euro1.85. There's also a bus service from the train station but I didn't take a note of the numbers. By contrast a taxi will cost you Euro10 and takes a similar amount of time. It's also worth keeping in mind that Tram 6 is the one that not only runs to the railway station and the city centre, it's also the tram to the airport.~Around the Hotel~On my second evening a colleague came out to the hotel with me so we could go for dinner. I wasn't optimistic about finding anything in this area as I'd not noticed any restaurants or bars nearby. However she has more local knowledge and tracked down a nice Italian in a hotel about 5 minutes away. It's fair to say that this is a good area if you want peace and quiet rather than a lively district. The key attraction of course is the Universum but sadly it's only open from 9 am to 6 pm - so no possibility for me to get a look.~Price and Recommendation~My room cost Euro108 per night including breakfast. I don't know if this is a standard price - if so, it's well above the rates at the Intercity where I normally stay but we do have a special corporate rate at that hotel.To date I've used the Intercity, the Mercure Columbus and the Maritim. Whilst I'd still always opt for the Intercity for the sheer convenience of the location, the rooms at the Atlantic are a lot nicer and much bigger so this would hop into second place, moving the Maritim and the Mercure firmly down a notch in my Bremen hotel rankings.
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