Location is everything
Travel planning used to mean that you picked a hotel chain you knew and stayed in the city centre close to the main tourist attractions. Today travellers have become more savvy about their choices and less inclined to 'go with what they know'. Bed and breakfasts, home stays, couch surfing, boutique hotels and holiday apartments have become a much more popular choice. The price point is of course part of that, but the internet has fundamentally changed the way we experience a city and as a result we now want more of a local experience, one that you just can't get from staying in a hotel.
Location is everything and that is definitely true in Berlin. A weekend in Charlottenburg is a world away from a few days in Neukölln. A stay in north Friedrichshain gives you a great east Berlin GDR style experience, while some wild nights in Kreuzberg will up your cool credentials with street art and hipsters at every turn. There are plenty of ways to choose where to stay these days and we have curated a helpful little list for you to help you book the perfect city break in Berlin.
1. Google Maps
Vastly underused but extremely useful, google maps let's you discover so much about a city, despite having never been there. Enter the name of the city and the map opens. In the search bar type in airports or main train station and you can see their distance from the city. Click the small blue arrow next to the search bar and you can get directions between things to get a sense of distances. Zoom in close on something then click the three small images in the bottom right corner and you can see curated images from the web of that exact location - sometimes in 360 degrees, as if you are actually there. Best of all, once you have explored and decided where you'd like to stay, you just type in 'hotels' or 'hostels' or 'camping' etc in the search bar and glorious little icons will appear cross the map. Clicking on them will give you loads of information on the left of your screen including rates, website, address and even a booking field in many cases so you can book right there and then.
2. Home Sharing
Although they attract controversy, home sharing sites such as airbnb and wimdu allow you to have a truly local experience and actually get a taste of living in the city, not just visiting it. Apartments with windows that open, equipped kitchens you can use and gardens you can sit in, mean you can spend long leisurely hours 'at home' in that area and experience another side of life in that city. The moments of discovering a neighbourhood through it's streets, parks and stores are totally unique and a nice complement to your city experience as you tick off the tourist attractions.
3. Book a Local
The sharing economy has given birth to many great ideas - Uber and airbnb being just a couple. Many cities are now offering services that allow a visitor to book time with a local - someone who lives in the city and has a passion for a particular place or thing and is willing to share it. You might end up at a 30th birthday or an art opening, a picnic by the river or a techno club. You can filter your choices to find the guide right for you but best of all, there's a great version of this in Berlin that offers accomodation as well. My Plus One offers a small selection of unique properties - from architecturally designed apartments made from reclaimed materials, to sleek modern houseboats on a lake. You can take your pick of the places to stay and then see which friendly local you'd like to spend your Saturday afternoon with. This is a great option particularly for solo travellers.