A 19th-century brewery converted into a hostel with a striking modern design and voted one of the 10 best hostels in Germany in 2010. In the six-metre-high high lobby, a cavernous space allows you to meet and chat with people from all around the world, but also to play billiards, table football or table tennis – the latest craze in Berlin. There’s also a 24-hour bar and a cafe selling cakes and quiches, a sun terrace and a large garden. It’s located in middle of the lively Prenzlauer Berg area, with lots of bars, cafes and events.
• Hof 4, Haus 6, Christinenstrasse 18-19, Prenzlauer Berg, +49 30 9393 5858, pfefferbett.de. Doubles from €24.50, dorms from €14
Baxpax Kreuzberg Hostel
The stairs leading up from the backyard may seem a bit shady, but once you push open the door, the lobby of the Baxpax is lively, with guests hanging around its pool table. The rooms are bright – modelled with cheery murals – and quiet, and there is also a well-equipped kitchen, TV room, an internet cafe, a small bar and a bike rental service. The vibrant Kreuzberg neighbourhood also offers a multitude of bars, cafes and restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets.
• Skalitzer Strasse 104, +49 30 6951 8322, Kreuzberg, baxpax.de/kreuzberg. Doubles from €20, dorms from €8
The Circus Hostel
This hostel is painted red and located in the east, near the buzzing Rosenthaler Platz. The highlights are its 11 newly refurbished flats, designed for two or four people. The furniture comes from Ikea, and the rooms are fitted with private bathrooms, a kitchen and a private terrace to enjoy the sunsets over the city. In the basement of the building, the Goldman’s bar offers “karaoke parties” on Wednesday nights. Wi-Fi, tickets for concerts, bike rental services and even a book exchange are also available.
• Weinsbergsweg 1a, +49 30 2000 3939, Mitte, circus-berlin.de. Flat for two from €77, dorms from €19
Hostelboat Eastern Comfort
You can sleep on the river Spree just few metres away from the East Side Gallery, the longest section of the Wall still in existence. This hostelboat features 25 cabins on three decks in different classes. The rooms are spacious and you can even camp on the deck. Nearby, there’s a beach with white sand and the most beautiful bridge in the city, the Oberbaumbrücke, which links the districts of Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg.
• Mühlenstrasse 73-77, Kreuzberg, + 49 30 6676 3806, eastern-comfort.com. Cabins €16-€38
“Welcome to the party place in the heart of Berlin,” says the website: indeed, the owners promise a return to an “authentic backpacker atmosphere”. You’d be hard pushed to find a more central location than this, nearby the mythic arty squat of the Tacheles. There’s a paved backyard, wooden and wrought-iron stairs, a lounge/kitchen open around the clock, a pool and multicultural staff.
• Kalkscheunenstrasse 4-5, +49 30 4280 44997, Mitte, helterskelterhostel.de. Doubles from €56, dorms from €13
In the “multikulti” district of Kreuzberg, this newly refurbished ex-factory offers an alternative atmosphere. Each spacious room is personalised – for example, Atelier is an attic room designed for artists, featuring a window as a wall and framed paintings all around. To access it, you have to go through a corridor packed with old easels. The backyard is enjoyable in summer and there is also a cafe.
• Schlesische Strasse 18, Kreuzberg, +49 30 611 7116, diefabrik.com. Doubles from €48, rooms €18
If you want to escape backpackers and hipsters, you should head for west Berlin. The hotel-pension Kima offers 13 rooms on the fourth floor of a beautiful residential building – the website describes it as having “all the comfort and convenience of a home”. It’s chic and cheap: there is an old wooden lift, spacious and light rooms, friendly staff and the reception office is under an antique glass roof. Rooms feature a TV and a desk, Wi-Fi is also available and breakfast is provided each morning. This hotel is located in a quiet street off Ku’daam, in Charlottenburg.
• Wielanstrasse 27, Charlottenburg, +49 30 883 4185, hotel-kima.de. Doubles from €35
Hotel Baxpax Downtown
This youth hostel is located in the heart of Mitte, one of the best addresses for budget travellers, and offers clean and spacious dormitories, a small summer garden and a roof terrace: watch the sky over Berlin, as in the Wim Wenders film Wings of Desire, or take a dip in the mini swimming pool, or chill out in the deckchairs and enjoy a drink from the design bar. Wi-Fi is available all over the hotel and discount vouchers for clubs and excursions are available from reception.
• Ziegelstrasse 28, Mitte, +49 30 2787 4880, baxpax.de/downtown/de/home. Doubles €27-€66, dorms €8-€45
Photograph: Victor Wang
It only opened in 2005, but already features in lists of the best hostels in the world. The key to its success is its cosy, familial atmosphere, and its modern bright rooms – as well as the lovely garden. Located in a calm street, at the crossroads between the trendy districts of Prenzlauer Berg and Mitte – don’t miss Kastanienallee (aka Casting Allee), with its cool design and clothing shops.
• Schwedter strasse 7, Mitte, +49 30 9362 2240, eastseven.de. Doubles from €52, dorms from €14
Hotel Transit Loft
Located in the heart of the “Bötzowviertel“, sometimes called Nappy Valley because it’s full of thirtysomethings pushing their babies around in buggies. The hostel is a yellow-brick former factory from the end of the 19th century. The dormitories are spacious and bright and each room has its own shower. A generous buffet is served as breakfast until noon, which might be practical if you’ve been partying all night long in local clubs.• Immanuelkirchstrasse 14a, +49 30 4849 3773, Prenzlauer Berg, transit-loft.de. Doubles from €59, dorms from €21