BACKGROUND Berlin offers a variety of delivery facilities: maternity clinics, birth centres, obstetrical practices and ambulant working midwives for the various options and kinds of delivery. To select an individual service is a difficult task for most women. In this process of decision-making the gynaecologist plays an important part. This raised the question as to how established gynaecologists appraise the available services, which delivery sites they recommend, and what criteria are decisive for their recommendation. METHODS A postal survey of all the 523 gynaecologists of Berlin was conducted anonymously, 273 (52.2 %) of whom completed the questionnaire. RESULTS The results of the study demonstrated that the most important aspects for the recommendation of a delivery place are the technological equipment and qualification of the staff. However, characteristics of good care and support and an atmosphere of kindness and mutual trust are equally important. According to these goals, criticism has been expressed especially in the area of care and kindness, larger obstetrical divisions having more defaults in this regard. CONCLUSIONS Future developments in delivery units of hospitals should take into consideration that both safety and optimal care are expected.