If you ever need proof that hostels are no longer the cheap and dirty squat dives of the past, the Circus Hostel Berlin has that proof.
2015 is the year of luxury hostels and poshtels. Actually, the time for recognising the trend in boutique budget properties started way back when hostel blogger Kash of budgettraveller.org began his Luxury Hostels project, but this year even Fox News have jumped in on the trend.
Over here at The Hostel Girl, well I haven’t really been too concerned about adding luxury to my travelling diet or articles. As long as I get a great atmosphere I’m content.
But then last weekend, I stumbled on a hostel with atmosphere and luxury. Just take a look at the two photos below…
On the left is my more than luxurious single room. And on the right is the atmospheric Katz and Maus bar in the basement of the Circus Hostel Berlin. Which has it’s own mini-brewery. And a museum dedicated to David Hasselhoff. No I’m not kidding…
By the time I had checked in late on Friday night and experienced more than a few double-takes at the sight of my room (scroll down for more luxury!) I wandered downstairs to the Katz and Maus bar of Circus Hostel Berlin. After being handed a glass of bubbly I was instantly scolded (in a friendly manner) for not wearing a David Hasselhoff mask.
As it happens, Friday 6th March 2015 was the official ribbon-cutting opening ceremony of the hostel’s very own David Hasselhoff museum.
Excitement was in the air guys.
I’ve never really understood the German obsession with David Hasselhoff, and I’m not sure I ever will. But that night was not about understanding anything. It was all about the appreciation…
Whilst it’s unlikely that there will be another David Hasslehoff Museum ribbon-cutting ceremony in the near future, the museum is now open to view at your pleasure whenever you visit the hostel.
And the opening ceremony is a perfect example of the effort that Circus Hostel Berlin puts in to entertaining it’s community of guests.
“Travel as a social activity is a fundamental part part of The Circus Philosophy” – press kit
The hostel has a full list of events and activities to help their guests interact and become part of their community. The full list of what’s on contains walking tours, German language lessons, yoga classes, ticket sales for events, their wonderful basement bar… and even Scrabble!
I actually feel very upset about the fact that I didn’t have time to play a game of scrabble with the others guests. I did have time to sit at the bar though (who doesn’t?) and get a taste of the beer made from the Circus’ very own micro-brewery, new for 2015.
All of the activities mentioned really did unite the guests in the hostel. As did the beer. It was great to see guests gathering in the common areas to play drinking games and start their own little party… although for those of you who prefer more relaxing evenings I will say that it was pretty rowdy on a Friday and Saturday night. The signs outside asking guests to keep quiet for the neighbours were mostly ignored, and whilst the social areas are great for relaxing with a good book during the day, you’re not going to get much chill-time once the alcohol starts flowing at night.
I really have to give a huge shout out here (embarrassing myself in the process) to one of the bartenders who not only worked extremely hard on Friday and Saturday night when faced almost single-handedly with a thronging bar of guests desperate to drink, but also kept a smile on her face when I skilfully sent a tray of four large glasses of wine crashing to the floor of the bar. I blame Travelholic Nomad for surprising me and causing me to stop watching where I was walking, but it may also have been the glass of wine I’d had earlier.
I didn’t catch her name, but look out for the fabulous head of curls below and make sure to be nice because she’s awesome!
I also can’t fault the reception staff. I was checked in by Soren, who made sure I had all the information I needed about the hostel, but every time I returned to the desk with queries or requests for hairdryers and maps every member of staff I met was efficient and warm. Checkout was also a super simple process full of advice on how to get to the airport.
“It is our belief that just because someone travels on a budget and pays €19 for a bed in a dorm-room, it doesn’t mean that they should get treated any differently to someone staying in a five-star hotel. Low budget should not mean low quality or a lower standard of service” – Andrew Hadfield, Managing Partner (press kit)
On this trip to Berlin, I didn’t get too much time to chill out with the staff and get to know them as I have in other hostels. From the first impressions I got though they really seemed to have a great balance of great customer service mixed in with the relaxed vibes of people you’d love to get to know and explore the city with.
Now, after tales of crashed wine glasses, loud guests and Hasselhoff Museums, we can get to the luxury. Didn’t I tell you about the fab mix of luxury and atmosphere?
Before I go in to the details, you really just need to take a look at my room…
Artwork on the wall, a dramatically chic wire bed, a desk and drawers, a comfy chair and table, and the perfect full length mirror to take selfies in. I’m not sure why I’m crouching to take a photo in the mirror though as it was taller than me… like most things in this life.
The first thing that came to my mind when I walked in? “This room is better than my bedroom at home.” So this weekend I am decorating… thanks for the inspiration guys!
At first glance, the wire bed probably doesn’t look too cosy but it really was. Not only was the duvet a little touch of heaven, the bed itself was very practically positioned to allow for it’s own reading light and plenty of sockets nearby to plug in and charge my phone and camera over night.
I was also really pleased that there was a safe in the room. So many private rooms in hostels don’t have safes, their argument being that if there is no one else staying the room which has a lock of it’s own, why would you need one?
I disagree with this. It’s not that I don’t trust the staff, but as I usually stay in shared dormitories that have lockers there’s something really comforting about having a little extra security for your valuables.
The cost of a single room like the one I had above is around €46.00 per night, but an eight or ten bed dorm costs as little as €19.00 which is a great price for such a vibrant and popular city as Berlin. Especially when you consider the incredible location of Circus Hostel Berlin which you can read more about in the next section.
As the hostel was full when I arrived (also the reason I ended up with a single room unlike my usual choice for shared dorms) I didn’t get any images of the dormitories. But travel blogger Brendan has some great images of the hostel rooms so make sure to take a look at his review to know what to expect.
As always, make sure you book directly for the best prices. For those who wonder why I always encourage you guys to book directly with the hostel, Circus have written a neat little explanation on how it saves you money on your stay, and how booking through sites such as Hostelworld can effectively increase your accommodation costs on the road.
Breakfast at the Circus isn’t included in the cost of your stay. Whilst this is a shame for those of us who need to count our pennies, it does mean that breakfast on offer is a lot better than the average free breakfast in most hostels. For €5 you are free to roam around the buffet that offers a selection of fresh fruits and yoghurts, as well as a selection of cheeses, meats and breads.
Where to start? Well usually I talk a lot about how useful a hostel’s location is when trying to get to everywhere else in the city.
In this instance I really need to start with the area around Rosenthaler Platz and the Circus Hostel Berlin because there is so much to see and do there that you could spend a day at the Platz without needing to go any further than a half hour walk in each direction from the hostel.
Firstly, brunch should be at The Barn Café in which I was told I could find the best cappuccino in town. The man who told me this wasn’t lying… and their sandwiches were pretty damn good too. Then, if you’re more than happy to grab a dirty burger for lunch I highly suggest Rosenburger which is literally round the corner from the hostel and has the most amazing burgers I’ve tasted in a long time.
If burgers aren’t your thing, definitely check out the Ramen spot just a ten minute walk from the hostel. Cocolo is a tiny restaurant that would be quite hard to find if it wasn’t for the people queuing outside the hidden entrance. Then, once you’ve lined your stomach and drunk the Katz and Maus bar in the hostel dry of their home-made brew you can hop over to Mein Haus am See, the 24 hour bar/club right next to Rosenburger and party until the sun comes up!
Getting around Berlin
Now for the practical guide:
I really enjoyed walking around Berlin. In one day myself and João from Travelholic Nomad walked for a good seven hours around the city and came to realise just how easy it is to get from Rosenthaler Platz, the location of Circus Hostel Berlin, to the rest of the sights in the city without getting on a metro or tram.
The gates for example are about a 30-minute walk from the hostel. Whilst this might seem like a long time, there is so much to discover in this city that you should really give yourself the time to explore it on foot.
The underground U-Bahn system however is very efficient and easy to use. The best way to get anywhere on the U-Bahn from the hostel is to take the U8 from Rosenthaler Platz to Alexanderplatz and then change to whichever line is best to get to where you want to go. Just take a look at this public transport map to see all the possibilities.
One ticket for public transport is valid for the trains and tram lines, as long as you make sure you’re within the right zones and your trip lasts no longer than two hours. Also, if you end up going back towards your starting station you will need a new ticket as this will be perceived as a free return trip if checked!
Generally, if you’re staying within zones A & B your ticket will cost €2.70, but if you need to go a little further a ticket for zones A, B, & C costs €3.30. If you’re travelling on public transport a couple of times a day for a week I would suggest getting a weekly pass to reduce costs. Also – don’t forget to validate your ticket at the starting station!
Extra Tips & Photos
- The Circus Hostel Berlin have put together their very own maps offering Do-It-Yourself tours which you can download for free from their website.
- They also have a DIY bus tour which you can download for free and listen to on mp3!
- I would highly suggest taking Ally’s Underground Arts Tour which leaves from the hostel at 2pm every Thursday. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make one but I’ve heard great things. Also, seeing the artistic side of Berlin is a must while you’re in the city.
- Make sure to check out the Cwiki! It’s an interactive online guide to Berlin written by the Circus staff and is a great way to find tips on the local experience. If you don’t have a laptop or smartphone with you, don’t worry – a touch screen version of the Cwiki is free to use in the lounge of the hostel.
- The Circus Hostel Blog is one of the best hostel-led blogs I’ve ever read. That’s not an exaggeration. Make sure to read up on what’s going on in Berlin. For real-live updates, click like on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.
I received a media discount for my stay at Circus Hostel Berlin, but all opinions are my own and honest – as always!
Lots of love,