In Germany’s large cities, like Berlin and Munich, booking your hotel room ahead is essential, especially if you’re going to be in Munich during Oktoberfest or any major city during a large trade fair or special event.
Booking ahead isn’t as important in the rest of Germany, but it’s still a good idea, particularly when you’re going to be spending a Friday or Saturday night in places that are popular getaways for Germans, such as Dresden, the Black Forest, the Rhine and Mosel valleys, and the Bodensee (Lake Constance).
Tourist information centers, located in or near the main train stations in all German cities and towns, can help you find a room. Some charge nothing; others charge a small fixed fee (usually no more than 4€); and others charge 10 percent of the first night’s hotel rate, but you get that back at the hotel, so the service ends up costing nothing. Most tourist information centers also have a free directory of local accommodations. All have high standards, controlled by hotel associations, regional tourist associations, and local tourist boards.
But you shouldn’t only be thinking about accommodations in terms of hotels. Short-term apartment and house rentals can be economical and often provide travelers with more space and a more-authentic travel experience. In some cases you’ll rent through an agency and in others directly from the owner of the property, who may or may not be near at hand to offer assistance during your stay. Among the companies offering these sorts of stays are Airbnb (www.airbnb.com); Drawbridge to Europe (tel. 541/482-7778; www.drawbridgetoeurope.com); HomeAway (www.homeaway.com); and VRBO (www.vrbo.com).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.