Finding Budget hotels and accommodation in Berlin

A bit more budget than most

Berlin is one of the last cities in Europe with active squats.  Photo Renate Hildebrandt
Berlin is one of the last cities in Europe with active squats. Photo Renate Hildebrandt

Free entertainment down at Mauerpark

Finding budget accommodation in Berlin

All year round Berlin is bursting at the seams with artists, musicians and assorted creative people and you can be sure that most are not paying high-rates in expensive hotels but have figured out the city's best-kept secret, that there is plenty of budget accommodation to be found.  Here are some of the tips that I've picked up from my friends since I moved here.

Renting a furnished apartment

Buying property in many parts of Berlin is absurdly cheap in comparison with most other capital cities in Europe. This has attracted a huge number of young people who have bought a small one or two bedroom apartment partly as an investment but also as a place to stay while in Berlin.  The odds are that not many are making money on the deal. Most are still waiting for property prices to rise and and that may yet take a while. So many of the owners are leasing their flats and apartments out cheaply to try to cover their costs. That means there there is more than enough choice for people looking for budget lodgings.

There is a huge selection of furnished flats. Quite what that means will vary from one to the other but many are done up in clean new furniture from Ikea while others will have an interesting and eclectic assortment of tables, chairs and toasters picked up at Berlin's many flea-markets.

There are a couple of choices to finding them. The cheapest is to look at free online lists (Craig's is one) or if you are already in Berlin, in the local papers.  One should be able to find a nice one-bedroom or studio for €400-€600 a month. My first flat had two lovely sunny rooms (the kitchen and lounge were all in one) with a small balcony for €650 a month in Friedrichshain, a trendy neighborhood in the old east of the city. It was right on one of the most popular streets, Simon Dach Strasse, which is filled with buzzing bars, cafes and restaurants. What was the downside - I was on the fifth floor in a building with no lift.

If you are just visiting for a couple of days you would be able to find something similar for €30-€40 a night. Then your best bet might be to use an online agency to help you find a flat. The best have listings online with pictures of the flats, prices and an easy booking system that tells you when they are free. The only snag is that in Berlin the tenant pays the agent's fee. So if you are planning to stay for a couple of months then you can end up shelling out a large commission. Check out listings that are described as provisonsfrei , which is the German word for commission-free.

Business apartments and boarding houses

Another option that is cheaper (and, I think, nicer) than a soulless hotel is to use a business apartment or boarding house. These are usually found in the center of Berlin (called Mitte) and come in sizes ranging from studios up to ones with two or three bedrooms. They also come with stoves, coffee machines and fridges so you can cook your own meals. These usually cost upwards of €80 a night, but can comfortably sleep 4 adults so it is not a bad budget option for a group of friends. Some will also throw in a light breakfast as part of the deal. When coming to Berlin on business I used one called Flowers Boarding house in Mitte. It is also on a funky street right in the fashionable shopping district. Its also one I recommend to friends who want a nice place for a couple of days without any hassle.

Budget Hotels

I'm not sure if these are a step up or down as the price can vary considerably (some glorified hostels) with single rooms starting at about €50 and doubles for about €70 in nice parts of town. If you are willing to stay in a dormitory then the price falls to about €20 a person. There is no shortage of these, the rooms are clean and they usually have bars with Wifi and serve a light breakfast.

Discounts on luxury hotels

During quite times of the year, and even on many weekends, you can get a good deal on a 4 or 5 star hotel. Many are aimed mainly at getting business travelers and empty out over weekends and some holidays. Call around or check websites for specials. Even if nothing is listed you can often knock 20-30% off the price by asking for a discount before you book. The oppose is also true, however. These places will jack up their prices if there is a big conference in town.

More tips on cutting the cost of lodging

  • Stay in slightly less trendy neighborhoods. Prices in cool areas like Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg and now even Friedrichshain have climbed quite a bit in recent years. People looking for cheaper places to sleep are having to look in Kreuzberg, Neukoeln or Wedding.
  • Stay on an upper floor in a building without an elevator - this can easily make a really nice flat 20-30% cheaper than a similar one lower down.
  • Look for a sublet. Many residents in Berlin hang onto their flats because rent controls mean the price won't rise. So those who are traveling or studying abroad will often be very happy to arrange a sublet to someone staying for a few weeks or months.

I really hope these tips help you find budget accommodation or a cheap hotel and that this will encourage you to visit or even stay in Berlin.



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