By international standards, Berlin’s hotels are good value and it’s easy to find a top Berlin hotel that is smart and central for less than $100 night. What makes the accommodation scene a little different from that of other cities is the huge number of clean and well-run private hostels, with facilities such as all-night bars, common rooms, Wi-Fi and bike rental—and with private rooms (and sometimes en suite) that make them well worth considering even if you’ve outgrown hostelling. The city is also strong on boutique art hotels, where something of the city’s creative expressionism is brought into your bedroom as furniture and lurid murals. With Berlin a city of distinct districts, deciding where to stay might be your most important choice, despite the excellent public transport system. Mitte is the most obvious choice and the location of most major hotels. Within it, the Oranienburger Strasse area is a good choice for best places to stay in Berlin within the boutique genre of hotels and in an area that bustles after dark and is in easy walking distance of many key central attractions. If you intend on being in Berlin for more than a weekend, a quieter, less touristy and more vibrant residential neighborhood might work better: Prenzlauer Berg is particularly good for thirtysomethings in search of a good mix of cafes, restaurants and nightlife. Younger clubbers should try to base themselves near the cutting-edge nightlife of Friedrichshain or Kreuzeberg. Another major accommodation concentration is in City West—the old centre of West Berlin—that tends to cater more to business travelers and is a bit of a journey from the most interesting parts of Berlin.
Before World War II, the Adlon was one of Europe’s grandest hotels, and though the final days of the war destroyed it, in its rebuilt form it continues to be Berlin’s, and probably Germany’s, most famous hotel. Guest registers of the original are rumored to have included such names as Charlie Chaplin, Lawrence of Arabia and Kaiser Wilhelm II and various pieces from that early-20th century era, such as the lobby fountain, help give the hotel that time-honored feel. All 375 rooms have an unfussy 1920s style, with cherry wood, black marble and rich fabrics. The ones to request are those with views of the Brandenburg Gate—among them the bullet-proof €8,500 per night presidential suite from whose balcony Michael Jackson famously dangled his youngest child in 2002. Service is impeccable and amenities are of the highest standard, including a pool, fitness center and three terrific Michelin-starred restaurants; breakfasts cost €29 extra.
This is an impressively eccentric art hotel where each room is a work of art. Some are rather loopy, like the guest room of gold with bananas painted on the walls above hot-pink velvet bedding. Others have more coherent themes, such as the Alice in Wonderland room with its oversize furniture; or the bird’s nest room with its view to match. All the most elegant rooms are in the 1820s building at the front, but tend to suffer from train noise (earplugs are provided); meanwhile, the quieter rooms at the back are a bit blander. Breakfast costs extra.
Though in the midst of the Hackescher Markt bar scene, this small Berlin hotel on a quiet side street somehow manages to have something of the air of an English country house, much to the truth of what it advertises. Gilded mirrors, red leather seating, walnut furnishings in its bar and the breakfast lounge certainly help. The rooms are plainer, but still pleasant, with their under-floor heated en-suite bathrooms. The hotel courtyard is a pleasant place to relax—and rooms overlooking it are quieter.
Berlin’s longest-standing fantasy hotel is a short underground ride from the city centre in a fairly dull neighborhood, but this small shortcoming is more than made up for by the quirkiness of the rooms. Each room has been handcrafted by the owner into a particular theme. Best check the website before you book to make an informed choice between the likes of: Space Cube, Electric Wallpaper, Nudes, Upside Down, Two Lions, Forest, Temple or the Mirror Room. Breakfast costs an extra €7.
This is a relaxed hotel whose warehouse-style interiors exude the sort of modern, trendy and urbane vibe now typical of Berlin. The decor has an artfully improvised feel, with cuckoo clocks and exposed wiring decorating raw concrete walls. Rooms, too, have somewhat of a student feel, but that’s the hotel’s strong point, too: It’s designed for the young-at-heart who want a friendly, relaxing and unpretentious hangout without staying in a hostel—and that’s where the all-night bar and the lobby with its overfilled bookcases and comfy armchairs come into play.
For a time-warp experience, stay at this tiny six-room guesthouse just off the Kurfürstendamm in City West. The authentic old pension bears a 1920s feel, thanks to its many pieces of art, its multitudes of interesting local knick-knacks, and its densely patterned wallpaper. Rooms are themed and you can choose between the likes of Callas or Toulouse Lautrec, Goethe, Peggy Guggenheim and others. All have private showers but share toilets. There’s no Wi-Fi or breakfast, but this is reflected in its bargain rates.
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This themed budget hotel is the best Berlin hotel address to relive the East Germany of the 1970s. As with most nostalgia for the old East, there’s a certain amount of humor involved. How else could you cope with so many dirty brown and orange stripes in the decor? The cheapest rooms share bathrooms and there’s no breakfast or Wi-Fi on offer, though bike rentals are free. It's a short walk from the Ostbahnhof, which makes getting to central Berlin—or many of Berlin’s best clubs in the vicinity—a snap.
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Run by one of Berlin’s best and oldest hostels—the Circus Hostel—across the street, this Berlin hotel is a clear notch up the accommodation scale, thanks to its smart, cheerful and en-suite private rooms. A similar youthful outlook predominates in the communal spaces, including a beer garden. Breakfast costs extra and is available at the hostel over the road, where there’s also a bar, which is a great spot for swapping travelers’ tips. Both properties have free Wi-Fi throughout. Rates start at around €70, but expect to pay €85 most times of the year.
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