Whether you fancy boutique shopping or palaces and parks, choose where to stay in Berlin wisely to get the most from your break. Use this guide to the city's key neighborhoods to find the right Berlin hotel.
Right in the city centre, Mitte is the Berlin of a million postcards. Horses clip-clop, buskers serenade and crowds snap the Brandenburg Gate on Prussian boulevard Unter den Linden. Its stately backstreets hide Michelin-starred restaurants, belle-époque Berlin hotels and graceful theatres. Culture buffs cross to the island in the River Spree for the MuseumsQuartier, bulging with treasure-filled art galleries and museums. North of the river and still in Mitte, the gold-ribbed dome of the New Synagogue glints above the Jewish quarter, Scheunenviertel, the place for falafel, courtyard boutiques and upbeat bars. Slightly east lies grandiose Communist-era Alexanderplatz square and the quaintly restored Nikolaiviertel, the medieval core of Berlin.
Sidling up to Mitte’s western flank is Berlin's green lung, Tiergarten, laced with canals and bordered by the River Spree. There's a relaxed vibe with beer gardens, flea markets and the Berlin Zoo. Stride east through serene parkland to the sculpture-strewn Government quarter, where the German parliament sits in the crystal-domed Reichstag. Just south, major hotels cluster in skyscraper-dotted Potsdamer Platz square, which buzzes with commerce. Stay here for smart dining, classical concerts at Berlin Philharmonie and the Kulturforum's top-drawer art galleries.
Art Nouveau townhouses and boutique hotels give Charlottenburg and Wilmersdorf a genteel ambience. Kurfürstendamm, a 3.5km boulevard of high-end shops and cafés, spills into Tauentzienstrasse where the 100-year-old KaDeWe department store stands proud. Savignyplatz and Kantstrasse are the spots for bistro dining and antiques. Moving west, 19th-century villas fringe the leafy avenues of Westend. This affluent district shelters the lavish baroque Schloss Charlottenburg palace, and the lanky Funkturm radio tower. U-Bahn and S-Bahn trains provide speedy connections to central Berlin.
North of Mitte is relaxed Prenzlauer Berg. Non-conformist types, young creatives and families all call this home. A post-reunification makeover has lifted this working-class district from shabby to chic, with eccentric boutiques, bohemian bars and brunch cafés. Locals toast summer under the chestnut trees in Berlin's oldest beer garden Prater, dating to 1837. Some of the best-value Berlin hotels are tucked down residential streets near Kollwitzplatz and Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz U-Bahn, a five-minute stroll north of Alexanderplatz square.
Think metropolitan and innovative when planning where to stay in Berlin, and Friedrichshain springs to mind. Just east of Mitte, Friedrichshain is scattered with bars, clubs and budget hotels, and is framed to the south by a muralled strip of the Berlin wall, the East Side Gallery. Cross the river south to young, fashionable Kreuzberg, home to Turkish markets, Checkpoint Charlie and Daniel Libeskind's striking Jewish Museum.