Disclosure: I may earn a small commission from the companies or products mentioned in this post.
Located in Western Germany on the River Rhine, the city of Cologne has been gradually increasing in popularity as a tourist destination. With its festive Christmas markets and vibrant Cologne carnival during the winter months, to sipping on local Kölsch beer by the river during the warm summers, Cologne is a great destination to visit no matter what time of year.
However, with several different neighbourhoods in the inner and outer city, it can be difficult to figure out where to stay in Cologne during your visit.
Here are my recommendations for the best areas of Cologne to stay in, as well as suggestions for the best budget hostels, mid-range and boutique hotels, and luxury hotels in each neighbourhood:
What you'll find in this post
Where to stay in Cologne if: you’re a first-time visitor, travelling with a family, visiting for the Christmas markets or have limited time in the city.
Altstadt-Nord is the historic city centre of Cologne, home to many of the city’s main attractions including the impressive Gothic Cologne Cathedral, the colourful houses of the Fish Market along the Rhine River, a main shopping street filled with flagship stores, several of the city’s museums including the Roman-Germanic Museum and Museum Ludwig, and plenty of traditional beer houses.
Altstadt-Nord is also the location of Cologne’s central train station (Köln Hauptbahnhof), making it the best place to stay in Cologne if you have limited time in the city or an early or late arrival.
Best Hostels in Altstadt-Nord
Station Hostel for Backpackers – A cheap and cheerful hostel ideally located just a few minutes walk from both the central train station and Cologne Cathedral.
Rooms: The hostel has a mixture of shared dorms and private rooms with en-suite bathrooms.
Facilities: An on-site cafe and restaurant serving a breakfast buffet and food throughout the day, a social bar with live music and DJs, and a common area and garden perfect for drinking and socialising with other guests.
Pathpoint Cologne Backpacker Hostel – Pathpoint is a unique hostel located inside a renovated church close to Cologne station.
Rooms: Each of the clean and comfortable rooms, ranging from twin to 8-bed dorms, has its own on-suite bathroom.
Facilities: A communal kitchen, a shared lounge with a football table, first-floor terrace and garden with barbeque facilities.
Mid-range Hotels in Altstadt-Nord
25hours Hotel The Circle – A cool and quirky modern hotel with unique design features and an all-round cool vibe.
Rooms: Vibrant individually decorated rooms with en-suite bathrooms and plenty of fun in-room amenities including a Bluetooth speaker.
Facilities: 8th floor bar and restaurant with amazing city views, breakfast buffet and communal sun terrace.
Motel One Köln-Neumarkt – Modern and stylish 3* hotel next to Neumarkt Square in Altstadt-Nord (a great place to stay for the Cologne Christmas markets).
Rooms: Clean and modern rooms all have their own flat-screen TV plus a private bathroom with a shower and hairdryer.
Facilities: A comfortable shared lounge area and an extensive breakfast buffet every morning.
Luxury Hotels in Altstadt-Nord
Excelsior Hotel Ernst am Dom – A luxury 5-star hotel located directly opposite
Rooms: Elegant and spaciouswith stylish furnishings, large marble-style bathrooms with heated floors and restocked minibar.
Facilities: Two award-winning restaurants; Michelin starred taku restaurant which serves a variety of exotic East Asian dishes and the
Visiting Cologne during the winter? Check out my post:
Belgian Quarter (Belgisches Viertel)
Where to stay in Cologne if: you’re looking to make the most of the city’s nightlife or a foodie.
The Belgian Quarter is a trendy local area within the inner-city, known for its cool vibe, stylish boutique shops, galleries and theatres, great food and abundance of bars and nightclubs.
The area gets its name from the streets in the vicinity which are mostly named after cities from Belgium.
Best Hostels in Cologne’s Belgian Quarter
Hostel die Wohngemeinschaft – A quirky and lively themed hostel in the heart of Cologne’s trendy Belgian Quarter.
Rooms: Both private rooms and dorm rooms with individual pod beds. All the rooms within the hostel are individually decorated with a unique theme, including an elegant ballet room, a classical Shakesphere room, a 60s themed rock and roll room and an outer-space themed room with a rocketship bed.
Facilities: A cafe serving snacks and coffee which by night turns into a popular bar with live DJs. A separate room which is used as a theatre and venue for cultural events. A communal lounge decorated in a classic 1950s style. Bikes and skateboards for hire at reception.
Boutique Hotels in Cologne’s Belgian Quarter
Hotel Chelsea – Modern and stylish hotel with a wide range of contemporary art displayed throughout.
Rooms: Spacious rooms with modern decor and unique interior architecture.
Facilities: Breakfast buffet and on-site cafe serving fresh organic meals throughout the day. Outdoor terrace.
Boutique Hotel 026 Köln St. Michael – A luxury boutique hotel with funky interior design, located in the historic building of a former nunnery.
Rooms: Spacious yet cosy rooms, each with a private bathroom, desk and flat-screen TV.
Facilities: In-house Michelin Guide listed Christoph Paul’s Restaurant and daily breakfast buffet.
Looking for the best local dishes to try in Cologne? Check out:
Where to stay in Cologne if: you want to explore the city’s alternative scene.
Ehrenfeld is a hip up-and-coming area which is slowly overtaking the Belgian Quarter to become the coolest district of Cologne.
The multicultural neighbourhood is home to much of the city’s best street art, indie boutiques, artisan coffee houses, international restaurants and buzzing alternative nightlife scene, as well being the meeting spot of Cologne’s diverse mix of subcultures.
Despite being just outside of the main city centre, Ehrenfeld is easily accessible by metro to all of the central attractions in just 10-15minutes and is a great place to see the real Cologne and mingle amongst locals.
Best Hostels in Ehrenfeld
Weltempfänger Hostel – A cool hostel which fits in perfectly with the hipster vibe of the local area.
Rooms: Clean and bright dorm rooms with large lockers, as well as private rooms with shared bathrooms.
Facilities: Low-cost breakfast buffet and friendly cafe serving coffee and light meals throughout the day.
Boutique Hotels in Ehrenfeld
Black Hotels Köln – An old warehouse converted into a luxury boutique design hotel with a sleek black theme throughout in the real heart of Ehrenfeld.
Rooms: Cool, comfortable private studio rooms, consistent with the hotel’s all-black decor. All rooms have a flat-screen TV, a fridge and kettle, private bathroom, hairdryer and a desk.
Facilities: On-site bar and lounge with daily buffet breakfast.
Luxury Hotels in Ehrenfeld
Ameron Hotel Regent – 4-star hotel combining urban flair with classic elegance and modernity with tradition.
Rooms: Spacious rooms in a classic yet contemporary style, with private bathrooms and a flat-screen TV.
Facilities: In-house restaurant the Cantinetta Trattoria & Bar which offers Italian specialities. Fitness area with sauna. Generous breakfast. Conference rooms.
Park Inn by Radisson Köln City West – modern 4-star hotel by international hotel brand Radisson.
Rooms: Comfortable modern rooms with a flat-screen TV and hot drink making facilities.
Facilities: A fitness room, sauna and Turkish bath. Mediterranean-style restaurant with dining terrace during summer months.