In Berlin you’ll find some terrible hostels, some OK hostels, and some amazing hostels. I’ve picked through them to find the best, based on location, value, common areas, bathrooms, and even bunk bed sturdiness. Here are my 7 top Berlin hostels recommendations:
📍 20-minute walk to Alexanderplatz 🛏️ Sturdy dorm beds with private reading lights and power points 🚿 Smaller dorm rooms come with private bathroom 🍽️ Free coffee, but no kitchen. Plenty of lounge areas, plus a garden 🧑🤝🧑 Double rooms come with private bathroom and TV
📍 Between Prenzlauer Berg and Alexanderplatz 🛏️ Large choice of well-designed rooms with dorms that include a reading light and power points 🚿 Clean and spacious bathrooms 🍽️ Tidy kitchen, garden with hammocks and BBQ 🧑🤝🧑 Simple but great value private rooms with shared bathrooms
📍 Just across the road from Rosenthaler Platz U-Bahn 🛏️ All dorm rooms come with en-suites and private powerpoints 🚿 Basic but clean bathrooms 🍽️ Stylish common areas, including a microbrewery plus a cafe which offers all-you-can-eat breakfast for just €5 🧑🤝🧑 Private penthouse room with its own kitchen and ensuite
📍 20-minute walk to the Tiergarten 🛏️ Well-designed bunk rooms with plenty of space, reading lamps and USB points 🚿 Each room comes with its own superb bathroom 🍽️ Spacious kitchen and super-stylish common areas 🧑🤝🧑Comfy and light private rooms with en-suite bathrooms
📍 Kreuzkoelln neighbourhood, just steps from Hermannplatz U-Bahn 🛏️ Dorms with plenty of room and sturdy bunks 🚿 Each dorm has its own bathroom with separate toilet 🍽️ Large kitchen with communal table 🧑🤝🧑 Private rooms are small but perfectly formed, most with en-suite
📍 Also in the lively Kreuzkoelln neighbourhood, 5 minutes from Schönleinstr U-Bahn 🛏️ Well-designed dorm, but not much privacy 🚿 Spacious bathroom for the dorm 🍽️ Basic and small kitchen (but hostel only accommodates 9 people) 🧑🤝🧑 Small double rooms with shared bathrooms
📍 In the heart of west Berlin, steps from the Tiergarten and many top sights 🛏️ Sturdy bunk beds with privacy curtains 🚿 Clean, modern bathrooms, with each dorm room having its own showers 🍽️ Large kitchen, ample seating and common areas, laundry, terrace 🧑🤝🧑 Choice of private room types, all with private bathrooms
I’ve been fortunate to visit a lot of places on this incredible planet, using a variety of transport. These amazing travel facts have been compiled using that experience, as well as research I conducted for a book, and my 20 years working in the travel industry.
In lieu of modern maps, one of the founders of passenger airlines plotted his first flight across the Pacific using the charts created by Captain Cook in the 1700s.
Travel and tourism comprises 91.3% of Macau’s economy. In Europe, Croatia is most reliant on this sector which contributes 25% of the economy.
You can travel from London to Australia and back again as a freighter ship passenger. It would take 97 days.
Moscow to Petropavlovsk is the longest contiguous domestic flight in the world currently operating, taking 8 hours and 35 mins to fly over Russia (which is bigger than Pluto).
Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas carries more passengers than any other, and in one week those on board consume roughly the same amount of potatoes as are grown on one acre of land.
The Qinghai to Lhasa railway is the highest in the world, reaching 5,068m in elevation. Enriched oxygen is pumped into passenger carriages.
If you flip through the Slovenian passport you can see a horse and its rider gallop across the bottom of the pages.
Tuvalu only receives up to 2,500 tourists a year, despite being a perfect South Pacific paradise.
Innsbruck airport is one of Europe’s most challenging, yet dramatic to fly into. Pilots landing here require special training.
The Ghan in Australia is the world’s longest passenger train, with up to 44 carriages stretching just over a kilometre.
The Spring Festival travel season or, Chunyun, in China sees up to 385,000,000 million people travelling and is the world’s largest human migration event.
Workers in Kuwait are entitled to up to 43 days holiday each year (30 days annual leave plus 13 public holidays). In the USA someone could potentially have 0 days holiday entitlement.
Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan in Japan is the world’s oldest continuously running hotel, having been established in 705AD. It has been in the same family for 52 generations.
Airline meals were first served on October 11, 1919 on a flight between London and Paris (it was a sandwich and fruit).
Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport employs 63,000 people, roughly the same as Gloucester in the UK, Darwin in Australia, or Halifax in Canada.
Thanks to artists Pause08, Freepik, Becris, Roundicons, Flat Icons, DinosoftLabs, and Vectors Market who produced the icons on this amazing travel facts page.
Many restaurants lay claim to being the oldest in the world. One thing’s for sure; it isn’t in London. Thanks in part to the Great Fire of 1666, many of this city’s eating establishments were wiped out, but London’s oldest restaurants still date back hundreds of years, including one which is even older than the USA (well, technically it’s a tavern, but the criteria for this list is that it must be a predominantly food-serving establishment…I’ll get to London’s oldest pubs another time).
Founded by Thomas Simpson having been gifted the site by his father. Ladies were first admitted in 1916!
Starting off as a smoking club, this restaurant became a famous venue for chess, as reflected in the decor.
Cuisine: Traditional British Dish to try: Sunday roast Address:100 Strand, London, WC2R 0EW Neighbourhood: Between Covent Garden and the river, the Strand is one of London’s swankiest streets. Stay:One Aldwych
Established: 1840 (although moved to Jermyn Street in 1984)
The original Wilton was a fishmonger in 1742. His business passed on to his son. It stayed in the family until 1886.
One of London’s first French restaurants, this gorgeous place has retained many original features.
Cuisine: American/European Dish to try: Ahi tuna carpaccio Address:29 Romilly St, London W1D 5HP Neighbourhood: Perfectly positioned between the bars and buzz of Soho (the centre of London’s LGBT+ community), and Chinatown. Stay:The Soho Hotel
Only open for lunch Mon-Fri. John Sweetings began as an oyster merchant in 1830 before founding this seafood institution.
Is this a good time to buy travel? I’m hopeful that imminent vaccines will mean that international travel opens up a bit more. I’ll be continuing to keep my Covid Travel Corridors and Ski Travel Corridors pages updated.
Black Friday travel deals correct as of 17:24 Nov 27 2020
You’re enjoying the warmth and comfort of a train, but then it pulls up at your stop. You step onto the platform, the trains pulls away and you realise quite how remote this station is. There’s nothing beyond the tracks apart from silence, countryside and adventure. Remote stations – perfect.
Experiences such as this can be found throughout the UK, with remote stations allowing you to reach places that roads often cannot. I’ve searched railways maps and compared to hiking routes on Viewranger to find 7 amazing stops, starting with the most famous.
The highest mainline station in the UK, on the line between Glasgow and Fort William. Corrour is also a stop on the Caledonian Sleeper train route, with London being 12 hours away. There’s a small café at the station.
Located along the spectacular Settle to Carlise line, Dent is, 350m above sea level, one of the UK’s highest stations. Snow fences keep drifts off the track and the views down the valley are spectacular.
🥾 The best hike is a linear station-to-station hike, 14.6km long and ending at Ribblehead station 🛏️ Recommended accommodation: The Lister Arms
This remote station is on the Heart of Wales line – an incredibly scenic route running between Craven Arms in Shropshire to Llanelli. Very few passengers use the station, and there are few facilities nearby.
🥾 Across the road you’ll find a trail up through remote woods to a couple of the local peaks 🛏️ Recommended accommodation: The Cammarch Hotel
There are at least 80 hostels in Sydney, Australia. Some are the stuff of nightmares, some have spacious dorms and views of the Opera House, one even has direct access to Bondi Beach. Here are my 5 top Sydney hostels recommendations:
📍 10-minute walk to Darling Harbour, right next to Sydney Central station 🛏️ Spacious dorm rooms with private reading lights and power points 🚿 Bathrooms are basic but plentiful 🍽️ Large kitchen for a large hostel! Plenty of seating too, plus a great value café on site and an immense club in the basement 🧑🤝🧑 Light, well-designed private rooms with either en-suite or shared bathrooms
📍 Steps away from Manly Beach, and the ferry to Darling Harbour 🛏️ Sturdy bunks with privacy curtains 🚿 Large, modern bathrooms 🍽️ Well-designed common areas, including kitchen, bar and yoga studio 🧑🤝🧑 Lovely, clean private rooms, all with shared bathrooms
📍 Right in the middle of the historic Rocks area 🛏️ All dorm rooms come with en-suites and private powerpoints 🚿 Plenty of bathrooms 🍽️ Large kitchen, plus a huge terrace overlooking the harbour 🧑🤝🧑 Great value private rooms, all of which have en-suite bathrooms
📍 Overlooks the famous Bondi Beach 🛏️ Basic bunks with beautiful views and private reading lights and power points 🚿 Clean, plentiful bathrooms 🍽️ Modern kitchen and large terrace with incredible view over Bondi 🧑🤝🧑Stylish private rooms with shared bathrooms
Imagine this: you’ve spent the day exploring the dramatic landscapes of Scotland’s forests, lochs and munros. Now you just want to unwind with your favourite drink beside a roaring fire and with a view over the water. These five lochside hotels and lodges can help you make that dream come true:
Just a couple of kilometres from Inverness, on the Beauly Firth, this turreted hotel has a variety of grand rooms, some with views over the water. Log fires keep the dark-panelled Drawing Room cosy and there is a large range of malt whiskies in the Cocktail Bar. Look out for seals and dolphins in the water, while you stroll around the grounds.
A refurbished lodge sitting within its own massive estate, on the shores of Shieldaig Bay. Boutique bedrooms (I particularly like the one that has a stand-alone bath with a view) with beautiful antiques overlook the loch. Explore the lochs, beaches and munros on the 26,000 acre estate, then put your feet up by the log fire before your meal consisting of locally-sourced ingredients.
Sitting just above Loch Oich, this grand lochside hotel is between Fort William and Inverness. The best rooms have a four-poster bed and extensive views. Relax in the lovely library after some lochside walks.
The Glenfinnan House Hotel is in a wonderful position at one end of Loch Shiel and the welcoming owners want you to feel as though you’re staying in a friend’s Highland home. There’s a large range of rooms and suites and a restaurant serving cuisine from an award-winning chef.
Overlooking the famous loch, you’ll find here not only elegantly-designed bedrooms, but also spacious public rooms and a fantastic spa – perfect after a day of exploring the area. Like all good lochside hotels it comes with a view.
Before Covid hit, annual visitor numbers to Athens, Greece were heading for 6 million. Many backpackers who visit Athens use it as a stepping off point for visiting the many other must-see sights in Greece, but the city itself contains a wealth of attractions. You’ll therefore be wanting somewhere comfortable to stay for a few nights, and to help you decide where to rest your head, here are my 5 top Athens hostels recommendations:
📍 Close to the main attractions, with great views from the terrace of Acropolis Hill 🛏️ Sturdy bunkbeds with clever privacy blinds, private reading lights and power points makes this one of the top Athens hostels 🚿 Modern, well-designed bathrooms 🍽️ Large, modern kitchen but this can only be used for preparing snacks (no cooking) 🧑🤝🧑 Stylish private rooms
📍 Right in the heart of buzzing Psirri 🛏️ Although the bunks don’t come with privacy curtains, they are sturdy. Common areas are spacious and stylish 🚿 En-suite bathrooms for private rooms 🍽️ Lovely common areas including kitchen and serene roof terrace 🧑🤝🧑 Great value private rooms
📍 5 mins from Monastiraki Square 🛏️ Light, roomy and airy dorms featuring cosy bunks with privacy curtains 🚿 Stylish bathrooms 🍽️ Chic common areas including terrace (no kitchen) 🧑🤝🧑 Private rooms at superb price
📍 Under 10 mins walk to the Agora 🛏️ Well-designed dorms. Bunks have privacy curtains and reading lights 🚿 Clean, plentiful bathrooms 🍽️ Gorgeous common areas, including spacious kitchen 🧑🤝🧑No private rooms, but the 4-bed dorms afford a lot of privacy
📍 Nestled in the alternative neighbourhood of Exarhia, close to the main sights 🛏️ Sturdy, semi-private bunks with reading lights and sockets 🚿 Clean bathrooms 🍽️ Beautifully artistic common areas with large eating area and kitchen with free breakfast 🧑🤝🧑 Amazing value private rooms
Below you’ll find a list of countries/territories UK tourists can travel to without the need to quarantine on return (in England anyway) – weirdly, though, you may be required to be tested or quarantine when you get to the country (or simply not be allowed in, even though the UK government says you can go). Below is all the Covid travel info I can get hold of. I’ll be doing my best to keep this page updated.
Please note that this is not official advice and that, apart from the travel corridors listed below, the FCO is still advising against all but essential international travel – if you go to destinations not listed below you will be asked to provide an address where you’ll self-isolate for 14 days (you can be fined £100 if you don’t complete these details, and you could be fined up to £1,000 if you fail to self-isolate). Please also note that this article is aimed at a UK (specifically, English) audience
What happens if I’m about to travel/currently abroad?
PLEASE NOTE: This is not official advice, this is all the information I have been able to gather so far. I will keep this updated as often as possible and when more information comes to light.
If you were already in the country when the Department of Transport announcement was made then you should still be covered by insurance (sadly, though, when you return your employer isn’t obliged to offer you statutory sick pay for the quarantine period – you’ll have to work from home if you can).
If you’ve not yet travelled and your airline cancels your flight then you may be entitle to a refund . If they refuse a refund then look at getting a charge back or Section 75 from your credit card provider if you used credit card to pay. Even if your flight is not cancelled, the airline may also offer you the opportunity to change travel dates or receive a voucher for future travel – this is a good option, which airlines such as Jet2 and British Airways (via Manage My Booking) were offering, the latter under their ‘Flexible Change Policy’.
Please be aware that, even though they will allow you to switch flight (eg easyJet) some airlines may charge a change fee. Ryanair has stated that such a fee will apply, and that you will also have to pay any difference in fare (something which many other airlines are saying).
Package holiday operators such as Tui have said that they will not take travellers to destinations where there is a need to quarantine on return. Tui have been cancelling holidays to effected destinations – you can choose to get a full refund, or amend your holiday for free (plus an additional incentive). Jet2 were allowing customers to change their holiday free of charge, but they won’t allow you to cancel. If your package holiday is cancelled by the company you were due to travel with then you are legally entitled to a full refund (legally within 2 weeks, although the travel industry is currently on its knees), but this may take time coming through.
If you decide to go ahead and travel to a country where the FCO advise against all but essential travel, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be covered by your travel insurance.
If your airline hasn’t cancelled your flight and you don’t wish to travel then, if you had your insurance in place and you booked before the pandemic (most insurers agree this date to be 13 March), then you should get a refund from insurance. If you booked after this date then you’re unlikely to be covered (Nationwide Flex account may be an exception).
In conclusion, your best options are to look into government-backed ATOL travel vouchers, or changing your dates with your airline/holiday operator/hotel.
We now have ‘travel corridors’ instead. The UK government seems to no longer have a traffic light system, making all of the countries I listed below ‘Green’ – i.e. there’s no particular warning or list of countries specified by the government that you cannot travel to. HOWEVER, if a country is NOT on the list below then you WILL be required to quarantine for 14 days when you return to the UK.
NOTE: although the UK government sets rules on these routes, quarantining rules may differ between each UK nation. Each destination country may also have testing and/or quarantine regulations in place when you arrive.
Will I have to quarantine or be tested when I get there?
Possibly. It depends on each country. In the list of travel corridor countries below I have added a 🕒 next to countries which will require you to quarantine (usually for 14 days), a 🌡️ next to countries which will require testing (either before you leave or when you enter), a 📝 next to countries which require a form to be filled out, and a ✅ next to countries where there are no restrictions. Even though the UK government is letting us travel, some countries may refuse entry due to the relatively high number of cases here – I’ve marked these countries with a ❎ (it’s unlikely that airlines will fly from the UK to these countries, but, if they do, you may be turned back when you arrive).
According to the government: ‘From 10 July 2020, unless they have visited or stopped in any other country or territory in the preceding 14 days, passengers arriving from the following countries and territories will not be required to self-isolate on arrival into England’ (note: not Scotland, Wales or N Ireland). This list has been taken from the Department of Transport site, not the FCO site (the two lists differ).
Click on each country name, ‘Flights’, ‘Trains’ or ‘Ferries’ for the latest offers, or click on the itinerary links if you want some detailed planning help. I’ve also added ‘info’ links if you want more details, such as extra measures for incoming passengers (see above for explainer).
Disappointed that the country you planned to travel to isn’t yet part of the travel corridors? Don’t fret. If daily active cases in the UK and/or the country you wish to travel to continue declining, then the government will be more likely to include that country in the travel corridors, particularly if it’s a popular tourist destination.
Estonia, for example, is waiting for the UK’s number of cases per 100k to drop below 25 before starting to permit tourists from this country. Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia and St Vincent and the Grenadines will be added to the list of travel corridors from 28 July. Portugal is very much in the spotlight as there are strong calls to remove the quarantine for this country (the FCO has deemed the Azores and Madeira ‘safe’). Latvia is open to UK travellers again but, for some reason, the UK government still requires you to quarantine on return – I imagine that will be changed soon. Cyprus is due to open to UK tourists from 1 Aug (as long as UK cases continue to improve). Japan is closed to UK travellers until at least the end of August. I’ll try to keep this page updated as often as possible.
Is it safe to travel?
Even though flight, train and ferry companies have put in place many new Covid travel safety rules, it would appear that your safety is still almost entirely down to the responsibility of fellow passengers. Many travel corridors destinations are insisting that visitors at least take a test on arrival.
When you get to the airport you will be instructed on how to queue at check-in, security and when boarding. You will also see instructions on where to sit when waiting for your flight.
Airlines are requiring passengers to wear a face mask at all times, and to replace face masks every four hours (note that some destinations may require different types of masks to the UK). All airlines have put in place advanced disinfecting techniques. Some airlines, such as British Airways, are giving passengers a personal protection pack containing an antibacterial wipe and hand sanitiser – all but Emirates and Virgin Atlantic require you to bring your own mask(s). Take a look at the government advice for more detail. Virgin Atlantic also have a useful page detailing the measures they’re taking, as do easyJet and, slightly less useful, is Ryanair’s Covid page.
Airlines aren’t, however, keeping seats free between passengers and so social distancing along travel corridors is not possible. The UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization has provided guidance to all airlines, but it’s not enforceable.
Similar to flights, you will need to wear a face mask for the duration of your train journey. You will need to supply your own mask. Every other seat on board Eurostar has been left empty and so it will be possible to maintain some level of social distancing (more details on their site). Train companies have also put in place advanced disinfecting techniques.
Ferry companies aren’t currently requiring you to wear a mask (although their staff will be). This, therefore, may be the most comfortable form of travel. In addition to making reserved seats and cabins compulsory, so as to ensure social distancing, ferry companies have put in place advanced cleaning operations. You can see more details about Britanny Ferries Coronavirus response here, P&O Ferries here, DFDS here, and Irish Ferries here.
Hotels and Hostels
Hotels are, perhaps, one of the safest places to be. Hotel managers are, after all, used to the idea of deep cleaning rooms. Although you may not be able to eat in their restaurants, room service should be available.
Some countries have implemented special training for hotel supervisors and have put in place rules for check-in queues, the removal of non-essential decorative items, as well as for keeping rooms empty for several hours between guests.
Of all the accommodation types I have seen preparing for guests during this crisis, it is probably hostels which seem to have been doing the most thorough job. Numbers of guests – especially in dorms – have been restricted by many hostels
AirBnB have asked their hosts to enact enhanced cleaning protocols, flexible cancellations and longer stays are being encouraged, and hosts have been given a vast array of advice on how to stay open during the crisis. HomeAway have been less insistent that their hosts put into place enhanced cleaning, but they do have guidance for their hosts. Unlike hotels, B&Bs are less tightly regulated, and so your safety is in the hands of your host.
Covid travel insurance
This is still an extremely unpredictable situation. Buying good insurance is, therefore, highly recommended. If you’re travelling in the EU, make sure that you have a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) as you will still be able to receive treatment in local hospitals (UK citizens will no longer be eligible for EHIC after 31 Dec 2020).
Remember where I mentioned the FCO in the intro to this page? Well, that’s key to whether you’ll be covered by insurance. If the FCO advises against travel to a destination, then it’s highly likely you won’t be covered by insurance (this is true regardless of pandemics).
If you booked your trip and had travel insurance in place before the pandemic hit (most insurers use 12 March for this date) then you should be covered if you wish to cancel. You’ll find a vast wealth of information about cancellations and your rights on the MoneySavingExpert site.
Nationwide, Staysure, the Post Office, Alpha Travel Insurance, Insurancewith, JS Insurance, Trailfinders and Saga all now reportedly have Covid travel insurance in place which covers the virus, although some only cover cancellations and not medical treatment, plus most won’t let you cancel without good reason (i.e. not in the event that you change your mind about how safe it may be).
For more info and to compare insurers, click here.
What will travel be like?
It’s travel, Jim, but not as we know it.
You may well be required to take a swab test on arrival to your destination. Some may even insist that you remain in quarantine (which begs the question ‘is it actually worth travelling?’).
Flights will involve quiet, socially-distanced airports. Restaurants in airports will be closed, but pharmacies, some shops, and takeaway food retailers will be open. You may have to go through additional screening. Onboard your flight you will have to wear a mask for the duration and food may be limited, or non-existent. You’ll be sat directly next to other passengers, movement around the cabin may also be restricted and toilet visits managed by the crew. In short; air travel isn’t going to be much fun.
Train travel will feel much freer than flying – it will be easier to get up and walk around and you’ll have much more space, with every other seat on Eurostar left empty. Masks will still be required. However, if you take the Eurotunnel, you can drive your car up to the train, stay in your car for the journey, and then drive off 35 minutes later – perhaps the safest way to travel.
Ferries will offer the most freedom to roam and you won’t be required to wear a mask, although, again, restaurants will be closed and you will have to keep socially distant from other passengers.
When you arrive at your destination the cities will likely be much the same as the UK: quieter than usual, and with restaurants and some – if not all – cultural attractions such as museums shut down (although countries which have handled the crisis better than others will have already opened attractions – the Acropolis in Greece, for example). These restrictions are planned to ease further in July (the Louvre will re-open on 6 July), but the situation may change quickly depending on number of cases.
Beaches, bars and pools may feel emptier and you will likely be asked to keep your distance – a beach bar owner in Greece is even going so far as to put up plexiglass barriers between sun loungers.
In conclusion, going to countries with whom we have travel corridors is going to feel very strange and very unsociable. If you’re desperate, then you should be OK if you follow the rules, but otherwise I’d just wait until life gets much further back to normal
How do I know all this?
That’s a valid question. As I stated at the beginning, this isn’t official advice. I’ve put together all of the information here having followed the stories about air bridges since they first appeared many weeks ago. I note the confirmed information broadcast by UK travel journalists, I watch their video updates and I listen to their podcasts. I track government announcements, I monitor the FCO site, I listen to Parliament TV (so dull) and I read reports in local country media about travel corridors. I’ve also taken information from the sites of various tourist board, accommodation, airlines, ferry and train companies. Finally, I like to think that I can identify reliable sources having worked in travel for 20 years!
This blog is all about planning for travel and so I know how important it is to have as much accurate information as possible – if you have found it helpful then I would greatly appreciate a small donation (link below) if you can afford it. Happy (and safe) travels!
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