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Cologne Hotel Muller--a couple of good things but a huge drawback--beware

Following the RS recommendation we booked here. It's clean, well appointed, and serves a good breakfast, though the same every day. Our room was little (12" on one side of the bed and 18" on the other to the wall, 12" from the foot of the bed to the cupboard and tiny table). RS says to enjoy the courtyard terrace, but an unwelcoming sign on the door says "Private", so we used the fire escape as a balcony. Most importantly we would not recommend this hotel because the only time employees are present is from breakfast until they have finished cleaning rooms, which can be as early as noon. You are on your own. One of the three nights we were there, we were the only people in the building. Even as experienced travelers we found it creepy. Furthermore, there is no mention that it isn't staffed in the RS book, nor when you book the room. It is only after you pay that you are sent a code so you can access your key from a lock box. That was my first suspicion that we might be on our own. Good luck late at night in the rain if you can't get the box open, don't speak German, and don't have a phone to call the number they've posted for help near the lock box. I've stayed in hotels with no overnight staff but never one where the reception is locked except for a couple hours a day. Older TA reviews say the reception was open till 5 or 8 p.m., but our three-night experience was not the case.
Finally, it's true that the list price of this hotel was lower during trade show times, but if there are no trade shows in town, you can book nearby hotels that are staffed, nicer and have nicer amenities for about the same price. Note: the discount mentioned in the RS guidebook was honored.

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Reading this post reminds me of something similar in the Pension where I stayed for a bit over a week in Berlin in 2005. One only knew that the reception was open because the screen wasn't pulled down; when you got to the reception counter, you had to hit the bell to get their attention otherwise they would just keep watching the TV. This was an old fashion Pension on Kantstrasse. After you filled out that Meldeschein, showed the reception the passport, you got a key, actually 3 keys, one for the main door from the street, one for the floor of your room, (after the reception was gone, they locked the floor door), the 3rd one for your room itself.

True, the reception was just open a few hours a day; after 19:00 it was closed until 0600. You never saw a staff person on the premises after 12 pm. There was no number to call if you had an emergency, eg, no hot water, problems with the shower or toilet down the hall, etc. or, if you locked yourself out.

On a few of the days in that week I was the only occupant in that Pension, since I saw no other guests at breakfast. When I came back from the day's outing, I neither heard nor saw any other guest. My room was nearest to the floor door, so you could hear any voices, footsteps or noise out in the hallway...nothing at all. The next morning at breakfast the other guests showed up. It was buffet style, all set up when breakfast started at 0730. It dawned on me by this second day that I was in that Pension all by myself after the reception and the cleaning woman had finished their shifts. As the solo guest I did have that strange feeling.

As regards to paying, the Pension was pretty flexible, but no credit card. On that they were adamant. You could pay up front the whole week's stay or at check- out, or any time in between.