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One Week In Berlin - Airbnb / hotel location question

We will be spending one week in Berlin in early November and are trying to select a hotel or airbnb. We have been looking in the Prenzlauerberg area and have found a few that appear to be good locations. We would like a location convenient to many of the sight seeing locations in the Center and are trying to decide how close to the river we want to be. We have found a few between Mauerpark and the Newe Synagogue (appear to be about 1 mile from the river. Others are about 1.5-2 miles east of Mauerpark. The ones further out are nicer, but the ones closer in seem like that may be more convenient for two senior citizens. We do like to walk and will use public transportation or taxis on occasion. We do not bike.

Is the one that is on the north east end of Prenzlauerberg too far out?

Posted by
1378 posts

Warning: more than 80% of airbnb offered apartments in Berlin, Hamburg and Munich are operated illegally. In your own interest book a hotel or hostel. We honestly see dozens of cases that these apartents disappear between booking and arrival. The company and also booking.com know the situation and do nothing to prevent people from that. They also do not cooperate with administration toegther to fix the problem.

Berlin's public transport is fast and reliable, so even around Ku-Damm / Zoo you are in 30 minutes at Friedrichstrasse. See the locations of the top sights and the location of the two center areas - Berlin does not have one center.

From what you request I guess the area around Rosenthaler Platz or north of Oranienburger Tor can be most intersting. You can consider also Alexanderplatz which is one of the main transport hub places in Berlin. Around Ostbahnhof and Warschauer Strasse you will find places closer to the river and very good connected to eastern center and Alexanderplatz. Also new bus line 300 offers you something like a sightseeing by public transport.

Posted by
29 posts

Thank you MarkK for the heads up. I did not realize that all those Airbnb Superhosts may not actually have permits. I looked on Hotels.com last night and there appears to be hotels available... the advantage of a hotel is that one can generally cancel up to the day or so before, which eliminates the need for additional trip insurance beyond the airfare and medical. The areas that you suggested are very good suggestions. We just hope we can find a hotel with a mini-fridge/mini-bar to keep a few things for a quick breakfast.

Most of the Rick Steves hotel recommendations are booked for our dates already, so we will just have to pick one. The ones I have been looking at are fairly large, so I guess we will "just pick one".

One other question for you Mark - Is the size of the German "double bed" generally larger than an American double bed.... is it closer to what is called Queen Size?

Posted by
1099 posts

I'm not sure which sight seeing locations in the centre you want to see, but I hope you are aware that Berlin is a huge city by area so you will not find a hotel with walking distance to all sights.

Regarding double beds, in my experience they are usually 160 or 180 by 200 cm.

Posted by
1378 posts

Double beds are in most cases 180 x 200 or 200 x 200 cm. Normally it is clearly indicated when it is "only" a queen size bed. Normally you will find the bed size in the room desriptions.

Breakfast is definitely no issue in Berlin. You will find good bakeries all over the town serving sandwiches and a good coffee - one way or the other :-)

Posted by
211 posts

We (three couples, one in their 80's) stayed at Pension Freiraum, on Buchholzer Strasse, in 2018. Rooms were simple yet comfortable, equipped with a refrigerator and electric kettle. Breakfast was available (I believe it was included). We found restaurants, to which we would happily return, within several blocks. It is close to the Milastrasse tram stop and Eberswalder Strasse underground station. We enjoyed the easy access to historic sites via public transit, as well as being able to walk and explore the neighborhood near the hotel.

Posted by
3436 posts

The big on-line agencies can show you apart-hotels which work like a hotel but have a kitchenette (and a front desk reception for when you need advice).
Berlin is indeed a sprawling city, so an important gauge to location is ease of access to the S- and U-ban trains that are essential to getting around.

Posted by
29 posts

Thank you. the advise is very helpful. Now we have to pick one.

Posted by
30 posts

My wife and I stayed at the Melia Hotel on Friedrichstrasse this past August. It is right on the Spree River (we had a room overlooking the river) and just a couple minutes from Museum Island, the Friedrichstrasse Hauptbahnhof, the Reichstag, the Brandenburg Gate, a row of nice restaurants along the river and even Alexanderplatz. While in the Mitte, the Melia is just southwest of Prenzlauer Burg and we found that the walk into and out of Prenzlauer Burg was doable. That being said we took the advice of RS and other forum posters to use the S and U Bahns to get around too (we bought a 6 day travel pass). Berlin is a great city with many distinctly different neighborhoods that were worth exploring and by using their transit to get around we were left with a lot of energy (and extra time) for exploring.

Posted by
29 posts

Southam,
Are you saying that the apartments on the Hotels or Bookings sites are for legal apartment hotels where the entire building is one business? And not individually owned apartments?

Posted by
29 posts

Culp3,
At the Melia, what were the room sizes like? And what were the bed sizes like.

Posted by
1296 posts

I think if you are looking for a good location in Berlin, you should not be looking based on what's close to the sights you want to see. Berlin doesn't have an "old town" or central historic district. The interesting sights are scattered all over the city, with just a few clusters, such as Museum Island.

A better set of criteria would be (1) is it a neighborhood you will enjoy coming "home" to in the evening? Cafes, restaurants, some night life, if that's what you are into; and (2) how easily can I get to the sights I want to see using public transportation. Being close to a transportation hub (like Hackescher Markt) is more useful than being close to specific sights. Many of those transportation hubs happen to be near at least some of the places you want to get to.

I liked staying near Hackescher Markt. In addition to being convenient, all of the walking tours I took started at Hackescher Markt. And I liked the neighborhood.

Posted by
1378 posts

Berlin doesn't have an "old town" or central historic district.

Fischerinsel and Nikolaiviertel are the historic center of Berlin - even not looking like an old town after over 800 years history. Visitors will find also parts of a historic district within old city limits before Greater Berlin Act. Of course the massive bombings of WWII destroyed a lot; but buildings like Zeughaus, Ribbeck-Haus, Nikolai Church or the Gendarmenmarkt still show very old roots of Berlin. A lot of the top sights are located in the eastern center which includes the mentioned above (see blue area on this map).

Visitors will also find a lot of beautiful and remarkable buildings from Berlin's strongest growth phase between 1875 and 1910, e.g. Berlin Cathedral, Altes Stadthaus, old Post Museum, and many more in other parts which became Berlin later (1920) such as Charlottenburg, Spandau or Köpenick.

Posted by
30 posts

The beds in the Melia are basically singles pushed together unless stated otherwise on the website. At home my wife and I have a queen size bed but we found the arrangement at the Melia more than comfortable. The room had an entry area with a closet about 24 - 30 inches wide and a similar shelved section adjacent to it. The bathroom was very nice - full tub and shower, generous sink area with a full mirror and toilet/bidet pairing as well. The bedroom had a wall unit with drawer storage below, TV mounted above and the cabinets for the minibar. Next to the floor-to ceiling sliding glass windows, there were a pair of nice, comfortable chairs and a table. There was plenty of room to move around too. Sometimes hotel rooms are tight but the Melia not so.

Posted by
12091 posts

Berlin does indeed have a "historic district". Historic Berlin starts east of the Brandenburg Gate, starting from Pariser Platz.

Look also at how the historical names of certain sites changed from their original, eg, the original name for Bebelplatz.

Posted by
1 posts

When we stayed in Berlin 2 years ago, we really enjoyed the selection of the Hackescher Markt area. It was walking distance to Museum Island. The S-bahn train station was right there so you could ride and connect to anywhere. The neighborhood had a lot of restaurants and nice shops. We stayed at Hotel Monbijou which was nice (and quiet), and there are several others in that area.
We booked thru one of the big travel sites.
We arrived in Berlin by train from Copenhagen. That took us to the Hauptbanhof central train station. It was a good thing we were not in a hurry when we got there. The station is massive, and it took us a while, along with some directions, to get us and our baggage from the basement level where the intercity trains arrived. Up to the 4th level where the S-bahn trains come thru. In between are levels of shopping and services. Once we got there and pointed in the right direction it was only 2 stops to Hackescher Markt.

Posted by
29 posts

Thankyou for all of the advice. We are narrowed down to The Melia at Friedrichstrasse and the river & Adina Apartment Hotel near Hachescher Markt. One is a fairly large hotel, good size rooms w/ mini-bar, with all the hotel services and amenities in what appears to be a busy area and the other in a smaller building with a full kitchen (not that we will be cooking any real meals, but heating up leftovers and preparing travel lunches and having a fridge) in a lower key area (which may be closer to RS style restaurants).

Both are attractive options and have different benefits to consider.

Since the advisors have described that proximity to public transportation is a key factor in having a great trip, are there any discernible differences in these locations as far as transportation? Is there still construction at the Friedrichstrasse station? and is that a convenience factor.

Any other information that would be helpful in deciding between these two choices?

There also seems to be huge discounts for non-refundable upfront payments and having free cancellation privileges. I can probably obtain travel insurance for less than the hotel premium, so that is a consideration.

Thanks again folks.

Posted by
1378 posts

Both hotels have a positive reputation. You cannot do something wrong with your decision.

Posted by
29 posts

Does anybody have a recommendation for a tour company to Sachsenhausen. I would rather go with a group tour from Berlin than deal with the transportation on our own and then finding a guide when I get there.

Posted by
29 posts

We have returned from Berlin and would like to thank the Forum for the advice and to provide some feedback.

We chose to stay at the Melia which was really comfortable. We usually do not stay in Business Class hotels, so this was a new experience. The comfort of the room, king size bed, large enought room to do yoga, great bathroom, had a tea kettle and a mini bar (we essentially took the hotel beverages out and used the fridge for yogurt, cheeses, wine and other snacks which we purchased at City Market across the street). The sauna was excellent and the full size bathtub really was a pleasure after a day of walking. We ate at the Tapas Bar one night which was actually reasonably priced and tasty. We were glad that we had a hotel with a 24 hour desk when our train to Berlin arrives 4 hours late at 9:30 pm so were able to check in with no problem. (So much for the myth about German trains running like clockwork - that must be an old story.) The concierge was very helpful in helping us plan our walks and sightseeing.

The Melia is located a few feet from the S and U bahn stations on Friedrichstrasse, so it was convenient to get around to see the sights. We still walked miles each day.

That being said, if I ever return to Berlin, I may want to stay near Hachshermarkt as we kept going back to that station very often.

Of all the plans and itinerary that I created in my planning, I have learned that at 72 years old, we do not cover the same ground as we use to. We don't get out on the street until 10 or 11, so that cuts the day down, especially in the Autumn. And when I schedule a couple of Rick Steves walking tours back to back, what is suppose to be a 45 minute to 90 minute walk takes us 3 to 4 hours because we stopped every 10 feet to take a photo or look on a map or try to figure out what the GPS is telling us to do.

Berlin was very intense seeing all the history in person. Some of the highlights of our trip were the German History Museum (first floor 20th Century), Topograhy of Terror was excellent, Checkpoint Charlie Museum was also very interesting, Our first day was a visit to the Reichstag Dome - the security was a pretty rigorous, however, the views were excellent. The Pergaman was worth seeing, We really loved spending several hours walking the Eastside Gallery (I created a Mile of Mural Project in Chicago, so this was inspiring to me), The New Synagogue, Berlinishe Gallery and we saw some excellent exhibits at Gropius Bau. Hunting for RS recommended restaurants is always fun, but sometimes we just have to pick something and we had really good luck in finding great places.

Thanks again for all the advice.

Posted by
23 posts

I was in Berlin last month and stayed in a wonderful Airbnb in Prinzlauerberg just a block and a half from the M2 tram line (which originates in Alexanderplatz and runs straight out Prinzlauer Allee. The apartment was lovely and new seeming, though in a charming courtyard building (likely built in the 1930s or 1940s. The hosts were Edi & Benedikt. It was a great experience and very convenient (I am also a walker and even walked a few times to Museum Island).