Mitte is the most popular district, the old city-centre dating back to the 12th Century is now a grandiose mix of modern buildings and classical baroque monuments & structures, chic cafés, vibrant nightlife, shopping & galleries, with a hint of the alternative. Mitte's boundaries now include the large Tiergarten park and the Reichstag building and is an ideal base for your Berlin adventure as the impressive Hauptbahnhof station, the main transport hub in the capital, is in this area. Two of the districts best hostels are City Hostel Berlin and Amstel House.
City Hostel Berlin
City Hostel Berlin is really good value. In a great location, this large hostel offers single & twin rooms and dorms up to 8 beds. Dorms are clean and have individual security lockers within and big windows allowing lots of natural light. There's a sizable reception area where staff buzz about next a large seated breakfast area (decent buffet breakfast is optional), bar and terrace courtyard. Museum Island and the Brandenburg gate are close by and the underground station, Stadmitte, is just around the corner.
Also in an ideal location for exploring the main attractions of Berlin is Amstel House. This hostel has a particularly fun energy about it, from the common areas and very friendly staff to the stylish rooms which have a common trait of one wall surface displaying bold, striking colour.
The décor is stylish throughout with blasts of colour and a hint of hectic just setting things off nicely and the energy of the place can be contagious and easily picked up on; the funky 24 hour bar lends itself well to a party atmosphere with happy-hour everyday, DJ and & karaoke nights, an outdoor courtyard and garden space where there are weekly all you can eat burger barbecues and a modish game room. All in all, it's a friendly & very sociable space and a perfect base in Mitte for exploring Berlin. The charming, well equipped self-catering kitchen is a nice touch too.
Nestled on the East West border, Friedrichshain is possibly the actual coolest district of Berlin. There's a real buzz here which feels, as yet, untainted by the trendy tag. Dissected by the river Spree, this district has an authentic leftist and gritty soul which is reflected delightfully in RAW Gelände, an alternative compound of creativity & fun set in a reclaimed former train repair depot. The graffiti-clad former warehouses now house cafés, clubs, bars & beer gardens, artist work-spaces, street-food & flea markets, an indoor climbing wall and skate-park. Located perfectly in Friedrichshain is PLUS Berlin, as well as having a transport hub mere minutes from the door it's also but a short walk from the East-Side gallery & man-made beach clubs, such as Yaam, along the Spree.
Venturing into the 100 year-old, tall and industrial looking red-brick building (now declared a Berlin Monument) you enter the spacious reception of an impressive modern & uber-cool hostel and can't help but think to yourself, “I think I'll like it here”.
The dorms are great - all are ensuite, perfectly clean and maintained to an 'as new' standard. Bunks are sturdy & comfortable and there's a personal light next your bed as well as large secure lockers in the room.
The hostel Bar & Restaurant, Opera, where you get a free welcome shot, offers delicious German & Italian food (spring for the steak, so tasty!) as well as regular all you can eat buffets. This is flanked by a funky courtyard serving as a chill-out area and open-air gallery with installations from local artists and there are even some cute fluffy bunnies going about their business.
The pièce de résistance of Plus Berlin though must be the free swimming pool & sauna, a feature the likes of which is unheard of in the typical hostel product in Europe. But then, Plus Berlin isn't your typical hostel. With all of this, as well as friendly, professional & laid-back staff, common areas & kitchen facilities and free Yoga on Thursday mornings, it is exceptional value for money. You get the sense that this hostel makes being just right look rather easy.
The Charlottenburg district is an uber-modern hive of activity with wide streets playing host to high-end shopping and tall buildings. The district oozes affluence, elegance and sophistication with Schloss Charlottenburg palace and gardens, a wealth of museums & fine galleries and a variety of trendy cafés & restaurants situated within its boundaries. With a vast array of nightlife and entertainment options, especially in and around Potsdamer platz, the Charlottenburg district is a decent choice of district to base yourself in when visiting Berlin and Aletto Hostel is one of the best places you can choose.
This is a high-spec property close to Bahnhof Zoo station which boasts very stylish, clean and sleekly finished dorm rooms bathed in natural light due to large windows, with solid comfortable beds which contain individual shelves and lights.
Friendly staff, a self-catering kitchen, common areas, a bar & lounge, a rooftop bar & terrace, a barbecue area and extensive outdoor area (catering to both basketball and football) makes Aletto an ideal place to spend a couple of nights in Charlottenburg and a comfortable base from which to explore Berlin.
Neukolln is a burgeoning district which may soon be considered the epitome of Berlin hipster. With organic cafés, laid-back bars, flea markets and Turkish delicacies and a prominent, progressive and creative collective of the young and unencumbered, Neukolln has an almost tactile, charming sense of community about it.
To the west, the closed down Templehof airport now acts as an unwitting community park where Berliners picnic, barbecue and sip beers into the long Summer evenings on the once extremely busy massive twin runways which also hosts the annual Berlin Festival. You could definitely do a hell of a lot worse than choose Neukolln as the district to hostel in and we recommend Cat's Pajamas.
This is a chilled-out hostel with a really nice atmosphere, large common areas and great, well-equipped kitchen facilities and a cool little courtyard. The staff are super friendly, attentive and well informed while the air-conditioned rooms are spacious and very clean with comfy beds, personal lights & power points. The decór is in keeping with the hipster sensibilities of the district in that unique Berlin minimalist style (and there are of course a few artistic images of cats tastefully dotted around the walls) which gives the Cat's Pajamas an unassuming identity as a hostel which isn't trying to manufacture some kind of 'experience', it doesn't work overly hard to direct you towards socialising – instead it subtly nurtures such interaction while remaining a quality, stylish, great value hostel and is quietly content to be just that. Do with it what you will.
There's a wealth of cafés, restaurants and bars nearby while the underground station is just a few minutes walk from the hostel.
Kreuzberg was formally part of west Berlin and in the western part of the district gentrification is quiet apparent while to the east, Kreuzberg seems to act somewhat in solidarity with it's (afore mentioned) neighbouring district of Friedrichshain as bohemian counter-culture, creativity and artistry with a healthy streak of punk is alive and kicking on the graffiti-adorned streets. Offering great nightlife and fantastic live music venues (check out SO36) street-art, cool galleries, parks and amazing street-food, Kreuzberg is a great spot to book a hostel in for your time in Berlin. Metropol Hostel is located next to Mehringdamm Station and a short walk from Check-point Charlie.
In sight of the TV Tower, Metropol Hostel is a long-running establishment with large, clean dorms, secure in-room lockers, friendly welcoming staff and a free breakfast buffet, which goes well beyond the basic 'continental breakfast' of bread and cereal, long associated as a hostel standard, to include cold cuts, boiled eggs and fruit cocktail.
There is also a bar in-house as well as a lively common area complete with the old reliable table-football and there are plenty of food options nearby including tasty Kebab outlets and the famous Curry 36.