Boom Times for Berlin Hotels with 9% Rise in Overnight Stays in First Half of 2013
Aug. 23–BERLIN — What the jaywalking tourists and nose-to-tail convoys of sightseeing buses in central Berlin suggest was confirmed Friday by first-half visitor statistics: tourism in Berlin is booming.
Hotel stays in Berlin, Germany’s most popular tourist draw, rose in the first half of 2013 to 12.4 million nights, up 9 per cent compared to a year earlier, city statisticians said.
As Berlin’s reputation for being arty, laidback and cheap has grown, so has the number of visitors. The city’s top attractions are its tortured 20th-century history — embodied in Holocaust and Berlin Wall memorials — as well as collections of world-class art and its shabby-chic counterculture.
The 5.3 million individual visitors in the first half — up 5 per cent compared to the same time last year — outnumbered the city’s population of 4.4 million.
Berlin is still not crowded compared to Paris and London, but new hotels are constantly being built by investors. Full-year hotel nights are on track to hit 27 million. Just 20 years ago, the city counted just 7.5 million night stays per year.
Starting prices for rooms and restaurants remain moderate compared to other global destinations, making the city especially attractive to budget-minded southern Europeans, but high-end tourists can also sleep in comfort.
A luxury skyscraper hotel, Germany’s first Waldorf Astoria, opened at the start of this year. The US corporate owner said its penthouse suite, which costs 12,000 euros (16,000 dollars) a night, is the highest hotel room in the mainly low-rise German capital.