The ultimate hotel guide to Berlin

Culture, cuisine, business and bars: Germany’s dynamic capital has something for everyone, reflected in its hotel scene.

The Fernsehturm (Television Tower) overlooks Berlin at dusk.

Photograph by Getty Images
By James Litston
Published 26 Feb 2023, 08:00 GMT

Bohemian, affordable and tolerant — no wonder Berlin’s often hailed as Europe’s coolest city. Today’s dividing lines are drawn by each district’s distinct vibe, be it edgy Prenzlauer Berg, artsy Charlottenburg, alternative Kreuzberg or fashionable Mitte. These are again subdivided into kieze (neighbourhoods), each with individual character and flair. The result? An incredibly diverse cityscape with surprises around every corner. So, whether you’re drawn by its historic monuments, cutting-edge nightlife or a summertime swim in one of the thousands of lakes that surround the city, these are Berlin’s very best places to stay.

Best for jailbirds: Wilmina

You can’t overlook the passion that’s been poured into Wilmina. This 44-room boutique beauty fills a former Charlottenburg prison and courthouse, cramming it with character. Barred windows and bare-brick walls may seem austere, but it’s a look softened by leafy gardens, white-on-white colour tones and pendant lamp installations. The cell block houses most of the rooms, where original doors (with guards’ peepholes sealed over) are balanced by designer Danish furniture and framed, pressed wildflowers, making them feel restful, cosy and bright. A games room, generous breakfast and all-day complimentary drinks (with afternoon cake) add the kind of comforts that make this a place from which you won’t want to break out.
Rooms: from €140 (£122), B&B.

Left: Top:

Wilmina's stylish hallway.

Right: Bottom:

A ground-floor room at Wilmina.

photographs by Patricia Parinejad

Best for luxury: Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin

No list of Berlin’s best hotels is complete without the Adlon. Though the original 1907 structure burned down in 1945, the hotel was rebuilt after Germany’s reunification to once again become the preferred address of VIPs. Marlene Dietrich, Charlie Chaplin and Albert Einstein stayed in its heyday, with Barack Obama and the late Queen Elizabeth II among more recent guests. All will have enjoyed its classic decor, refined service and Brandenburg Gate views. It’s grande dame hotel territory until you get to the price, which is surprisingly affordable when compared to top hotels in other European capitals. 
Rooms: from €450 (£392), B&B.

Best for style junkies: Hotel de Rome

The Hotel de Rome is that rarest of things: a five-star stay that’s anything but stuffy, and where the style and ambiance are genuinely cool. Occupying a former bank midway between Alexanderplatz and the Brandenburg Gate, its public spaces are a blend of original marble and mosaics mixed with neon artworks, ironic statuary and rugs in renaissance florals. But it’s the rooftop terrace that lends this property its ultimate kudos. Come early to claim a table and perch with drinks as the sunset washes over the skyline from opera house to cathedral, TV Tower to the treetops of Unter den Linden boulevard.
Rooms: from €500 (£434), B&B.

Hotel de Rome's rooftop terrace.

Photograph by Rocco Forte Hotels

Best for happy campers: Hüttenpalast

City centre stays don’t come more playful than at Hüttenpalast. Filling a former industrial space behind a residential block, this collection of retro caravans and wooden cabins brings camping vibes to an urban Neukölln neighbourhood. Sourced from across former East Germany, the 12 huts and cabins have been restored and decked out with colourful flea market finds. Adding to the sense of light-hearted fun are woollen decorations knitted by the owner’s mum, plus birch branches and leaf motifs that bring the outside in. A profusion of plants in the courtyard, salvaged garden furniture and a communal shower block complete the campsite illusion.
Rooms: from €85 (£74).

Best for water babies: Hotel Oderberger

Buildings with a story to tell add extra intrigue to city stays, and so it is with Hotel Oderberger. Built as a bathhouse in 1902 to serve local tenement block residents, it sat derelict for three decades until being reborn as a boutique hotel in 2016. Its large indoor pool was restored, but its water tower and washrooms were converted into 70 guest rooms with original features (tiles, soap holders, stall doors) that celebrate its heritage. The waiting rooms downstairs are now a library and bar, there’s a secret rooftop deck and Prenzlauer Berg’s shops, bars and clubs are on the doorstep.
Rooms: from €150 (£130).

Hotel Oderberger's historic indoor swimming pool is 20m long, 1.35m deep, and has a temperature of 26°C.

Photograph by Martin Nicholas Kunz

Best for bargain hunters: The Social Hub

Immerse yourself in Berlin’s youthful spirit at this 475-room property that’s part hotel, part posh hall of residence offering student apartments. In addition to industrial design and playful elements (such as a ‘checkpoint’ in place of reception, in a nod to the Berlin Wall), the vibe at The Social Hub is upbeat and lively. But sleep is still very much an option: hotel guests and students are accommodated in separate wings, so there’s ample respite for the grown-ups. All guests have access to an excellent gym, well-priced bar and free-of-charge laundry facilities, so a stay here genuinely offers value for money — all within a five-minute walk of Alexanderplatz. 
Rooms: from €85 (£74).

Best for shopaholics: Hotel Henri

There’s something rather familiar about stepping into Hotel Henri. A combination of parquet floors, panelled walls and antique furniture makes this a comfortable home-from-home — if that home belonged to a sophisticated grandmother perhaps. The classic style stays true to the building’s heritage — it’s one of a matching pair built in 1900 as grand apartments — but a pleasant, contemporary buzz ensures that it’s anything but old-fashioned. Guest rooms mix period wardrobes with modern upholstery and glossy wallpaper, while the (rather small) bathrooms have walk-in showers and bespoke Henri toiletries. Location-wise, it’s perfectly placed for hitting the shops surrounding Kurfürstendamm, which has long been Berlin’s epicentre for fashion and design.
Rooms: from  €160 (£139).

A room in Hotel Henri.

Photograph by Katharina Bucheld, DSR Hotel Holding

Best for animal-lovers: So/ Berlin Das Stue

From the carved wooden crocodile head in the lobby to the leather footstools shaped like hippos and turtles, wildlife references are everywhere in this luxury hideaway. That’s because So/ Berlin Das Stue is located right on the edge of the Tiergarten: the vast, green space that’s home to Zoo Berlin (to which guests have direct access). Don’t be surprised if you’re woken by the sea lions barking for breakfast or the hoots and howls of other exotic creatures. The building itself (a former embassy) has bags of character, while the Tiergarten’s acres of woods, lawns and lakes make it feel miles away from its central location. 
Rooms: from €300 (£261), B&B.

Guests at So/ Berlin Das Stue enjoy private access to Zoo Berlin via the terrace.

Photograph by Steve Herud

Best for city slickers: The Circus

The Mitte district meets Prenzlauer Berg where The Circus resides on Rosenthaler Platz, putting the 64-room boutique hotel right at the heart of the action. Eye-catching design and upcycled furniture abound, but eco credentials are The Circus’ showpiece. Green technologies keep a lid on energy consumption, while everything from food to soft furnishings is sustainably sourced. The courtyard garden, with potted plants and vine-clad walls, adds a soothing sense of nature — an extension of the ground-floor bar/lounge, it’s a lovely setting for breakfast or evening drinks, or hit the guests-only rooftop terrace for its honesty bar and TV Tower views.
Rooms: from €130 (£113).

The Circus has unique boutique hotel rooms.

Photograph by The Circus

Best for monkey business: 25Hours Hotel Bikini Berlin

It’s all about urban jungle views at this chic, upbeat and central stay. Choose a city-facing room for an across-the-rooftops aspect crowned by the jagged spire of Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. Or for an extra €25 (£22) per night, upgrade to a jungle room looking over the Tiergarten’s treetops, with Zoo Berlin in the foreground. Whichever you plump for, you can appreciate both views from NENI, the rooftop restaurant, which is a buzzy spot with an industrial vibe. Equally popular is Monkey Bar, which appeals to fashionable types.
Rooms: from €169 (£147).

Published in the March 2023 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK) 

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