Almost a month ago we moved into the Wiedenhof Palace, what is called a German ‘hotel’ off-base but it really little furnished apartments. When you move here you only get 15 days on-base in TLF, then you have to move off-base. There are several places to choose from but this one was the one that most people recommended and it had free Wi-fi (more about that later). While we heard it was the ‘recommended place’ we knew very little about it before we moved here, so I wanted to share what we now know with my readers, I also plan on doing a Moving Out post…if we ever find a house and get to move out 😉 It is located in Speicher, about 10 minutes from the back gate, and a few more to the main gate.
First thing to know if you want to stay here and need a bigger room (we are a family of 5) is that you need to make reservations early! When Mr. B came out to make our reservations they told him they put us in a big room, then when he came back to turn in the paperwork he found that they had put is in 2 side by side studio rooms, not what would be ideal for our family. After speaking with them he was able to get us into the 3 bedroom apt that they had just remodeled, I’m pretty sure they told him it’s the only 3 bdrm one they have and they don’t have any 3 bdrm ones listed on their website. We we are now in a tiny 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment but its better than 2 studio rooms, other than we would’ve had an extra bathroom but less living space and not enough sleeping space for everyone. I think the apartment is about 850-900 sq feet. Know that the rooms here are small but nice and appear to be kept nice, although we are in a newly remodeled one. This is a pet friendly location and Mac is here with us. There is an elevator which is very helpful since we are on the 3rd floor!
Let’s talk money. When you move off base into a German ‘hotel’ your OHA and utility allowance gets started, I know geek/acronym talk for those of you non-military folks. The apartments here include water and you can add a garage for 50€/month, all which is included in your OHA, and is under the cap amount. You have to pay 100€/month for electricity, which comes out of your utility allowance. Also there is a 90€ one-time cleaning fee when you move in as well as 195€/mo pet fee.
The wi-fi is free BUT there are some stipulations. The free wi-fi is not fast enough to Skype (and they tell you this when you check in) and you can only have 3 log-ons with it. So for instance our laptop, iPad, and 1 phone. For us being a family of 5 we have WAY more than 3 things that need wi-fi. Also if you want the faster internet that allows you to Skype you can pay 20€/month, and that gets you 3 log ons as well. So even with 6 log ons we’re still short a few to have everything on wi-fi, like my phone and of course the cell service is slow so I’m really missing the wi-fi on it! Also the wi-fi is hit or miss, it often goes off and on, which can be annoying. Also when we moved in we go wi-fi in our bedroom, now we can no longer get it back there. The front desk didn’t really know what to tell us about that. Often if the paid one isn’t working the free one still is, and vice versa. We can FaceTime and use the MagicJack here, something that we were NOT able to do in TLF on base, so that has been nice.
Also know that when you sign a contract here you have to stay for at least 15 days, so if you sign a contract and find a house that you can move into right away, you still have to give a 15 day notice. If you move out before the month is up and you’ve paid for a month, they will pro-rate the fees and charge you only for the days you actually stayed. The other side to this is that once you have an apartment you can stay here as long as you like. While it may not be ‘ideal’ to stay here for long we are one of a few families who have been here for awhile and may be here awhile while we try to find a house. Right now we’ve been here 2.5 weeks. Also they are great about letting you pay when we get paid and they let you pay the amount over a few paychecks so you don’t have to cough it all up in one huge lump sum right away.
Laundry, which is important when you have a family! I do have to say that I miss the laundry being in the apartment like in TLF on base, but we’re managing. There is a laundry room down in the basement, and it’s free to wash & dry your clothes. There are 4 small German washers & dryers, so it can be busy some days. They also provide towels here and you just take them down to the front desk and they will give you more clean ones, so that saves on having to wash towels! The worst thing about the laundry here is the other Americans! They move your stuff and that really irks me! I set a timer when I put my clothes in with about a 2 minute ‘wiggle room’ factor and by the time I got downstairs someone had moved my stuff, how RUDE! They did it to Mr. B yesterday and put our stuff in the dryer, which makes me mad since we don’t dry half of our stuff, we hang dry it. So I’m greatly missing being able to do our laundry without people messing with it!
The heating here is from the heaters on the wall, although I’ve found that living on the 3rd floor we really don’t need to use it. Make sure you open your windows WIDE open every morning for 5 minutes, to prevent mold for growing. There is a piece of paper on the back of the door saying to open the windows daily but did not give details, so we had mold growing after the first week. Now that we know to open them wide for the allotted time we haven’t had any other major issues, although it does mold around the windows easily and there is mold there.
The apartments are furnished and there is some basic supplies in the kitchen. A set of 6 plates, a few bowls, glasses, some silverware, etc. It’s not really enough for a family of 5 without having to constantly rewash but we sent stuff ahead in unaccompanied baggage to take care of that. Linens & huge square pillows are provided as well. Luckily we sent new pillows in UB since we were having a hard time using the large square ones.
Pets are welcomed here and they have a little dog walking area to the right of the parking area. I don’t enjoy having to go down 3 flights of stairs (I walk to give him a little extra exercise) and out to the area in the dark & cold in the morning but again we’re managing, it could be worse. There is not trash can in the dog walking area so you have to make an extra walk over to the trash area as well.
The staff here is great! They are super friendly and helpful, all speak English well. For Christmas they tried to hand deliver gifts to our room, we weren’t home but they gave them to Mr. B when he went to the office ask about something. They gave each of the kids a box of chocolates and Mr. B & I a 15€ voucher to the Pizzaria restaurant on the end of the hotel. It was a nice surprise! The Pizzaria is good, we’ve ordered food from there twice and they all you on your room phone when it’s ready. They are not open on Monday & Tuesday as we found out the hard way.
Unaccompanied baggage lining the hall walls, and this was after I’d opened half!
Also just so you know, because it was something that took me forever to confirm, you CAN get your Unaccompanied Baggage delivered here! While there is not much room for extra stuff, we did get a garage so we have extra room out there. It’s been great having linens for the kids bed (that we don’t have to worry about them staining theirs), kitchen accessories, clothing, our printer, and such!
And on that note, a bit about voltage! There are no 110 outlets here, everything is 220v. Luckily for us a friend of Mr. B’s sent us a TON of transformers so we have what we need to use the xbox, computers, etc. We also own Mac’s so that makes it easier as well since they are dual voltage. If you don’t have any transformers and need some you are able to get your allotted 2 from TMO when you move into the Wiedenhof.
While the apartments are nice, the walls & floors are a bit thin. We’d heard this before moving in but what can ya do? So far for us we’ve only heard the neighbors above us with little kids a few times, later at night, they sound like they are running up and down the halls. It’s not horrible, but you can hear them. The worst part is that we are next to the elevator and the first night I could NOT for the life of me figure out what sounded like a transformer who was transforming all night long behind my head! The next morning I realized that it was no transformer but instead the elevator which apparently gets used all night now. I can now sleep through it so that is good.
Now for a picture tour of the apartment.
Part of the outside, there is actually 3 of the white sections, one not seen behind the trees. The little pink building is the Pizzaria. There is only 1 elevator and it’s located through the red doors you can see in the photo. Great if you live in the 1st or 2nd building, probably not so great if you live on the other end.
When you walk in there is the kitchen immediately on your left, which is great after hauling groceries up 3 stories. The kitchen is tiny but we made it work to make Christmas dinner. The bar around it sits 5 people, so just the right amount for us, not a lot of elbow room but it works.
The fridge is German and TINY! No 2 weeks worth of shopping and meal planning while we are here, that’s for sure! The oven and the microwave are tiny as well. American cookie sheets do not fit in the oven. Mr. B was able to cook a tiny turkey in it though, LOL!
On the right is the one and only bathroom. It has a modern sink, a skinny cupboard, toilet, and shower. I also miss having a 2nd bathroom! A MUST for our German house!
This is the kitchen counter/seating area to eat.
Next you walk into the living room. It has 1 couch, 1 chair, and the only TV in the apartment. There is also a tall cupboard which is the majority of the storage in the house, and it’s not much at all. This is all the common living area in the house.
Down the hall to the left is Boo & Bub’s room. Bunk beds, a tiny desk/chair, and a small wardrobe across from the beds that you can’t see.
Next down the hall on the left is Bea’s room, one small bed and a bigger wardrobe across from it.
At the end of the hall you’ll find our room and this ‘interesting’ art work. Bea was wondering why this was on the wall, LOL!! As you can see the bed is 2 individual mattresses and 2 blankets, guess it keeps Mr. B from being a blanket hog 😉 2 small end tables, a tall wardrobe and a small dresser and that’s it.
Mac checking out the new place
I ‘think’ I’ve covered it all, but if I missed something please let me know! So now maybe you have a better visual picture of what staying at the Wiedenhof is like and so far we are pleased with the experience, I mean we’d rather be in a home…but that’s a sore subject 😉