The hotel is just across the main piazza, a couple of hundred metres from Central Station. There’s a metro stop 150m away, so access to the airports, shopping and historic areas is easy. There are plenty of restaurants in the area. The local street life can get a little interesting, but it’s well lit and busy, and as long as you hold onto your bag, it’s perfectly safe to walk around locally – the same advice I would give in any busy city centre location.
There are 106 rooms altogether in two buildings. Most are in the main building, with 16 across the road in the newer Berner Tower. There are six types of room here and there is quite a discrepancy between them. Few of the rooms are huge – this is Italy – but the cheaper rooms tend to be smaller and the singles are actual singles (with single beds) and small showers.
Design-wise, the rooms are OK but not beautiful, in the hotel-anonymous style with unassuming wallpaper, in pale stripes or a simple pattern, with rather lurid pinky-purple carpets in far too much of the hotel (only the top of the range rooms seem to escape into a more neutral blue). If such things matter to you, ask for one that has already been upgraded – the Tower has been done and they are working their way through the main hotel.
The Berna isn’t going to win any design awards. The lobby lounge is functional rather than inviting with echoes of its 1970s roots. The American bar felt more faux-British country club to me with its solid chesterfield sofas, displays of china and a rather old-fashioned feel. But the heart of this hotel isn’t in the décor but in the people, the service and the trimmings. There is parking available at an additional cost.
Eating and drinking
Breakfast is a generous buffet with a huge array of pastries, cakes, breads, cold meats and cheeses, cereal, fruit, yoghurt and fruit juice. The hotel has an American bar which serves an aperitivo from 5pm. There’s a free 24-hour tea and coffee corner with biscuits if you get the munchies and astonishingly there’s also a free non-alcoholic mini-bar in the rooms. There are no facilities for lunch or dinner, but staff are happy to recommend nearby restaurants.
Just the American bar, where Max the bartender can keep you happily entertained with cocktails and banter.
Service is friendly and very helpful. They do go out of their way to be helpful, laying on all sorts of extras, from the free drinks to a daily newsletter in eight languages. However, as they point out – their massively high ranking on TripAdvisor has set the bar so high they struggle to keep up when surrounded by far more expensive five-star properties in the league table.
Who stays there
The Berna attracts a mixed bag of guests from singles to couples, younger to more mature, tourists and business travellers and families with children. Because it is so close to the station, it is attractive to those catching the train. It is less fashion and more "real world" than many of the city’s hotels.
There are five different price levels for rooms and there are significant differences in the quality; be sure you know what you are signing up for when you book. Don’t just book on price. The hotel also operates airline-style pricing, so prices can vary hugely according to demand. There are some deals available for advance booking or longer stays.
- Business travellers
- Families with teenagers
- First-time travellers
- Mature travellers
- No fuss
Pros & Cons
- Free WiFi
- Free non-alcoholic drinks
- Excellent breakfast buffet
- Helpful and friendly staff
- Variable pricing
- Variation in room quality
- Rooms are fairly small