Berchtesgaden hotels are well-prepared for the 2 million guests they receive every year.The Berchtesgaden area has been a hot-spot for tourism since the Middle Ages when pilgrims made their way to the local churches.
There is a large supply of accommodations in the town and surrounding areas, and a wide range of prices and styles. The summers can be very crowded, but you probably don't need a reservation unless you want to stay in a specific hotel, or close in to the center.
If you don't have reservations you can go to the Tourist Information Office in the big yellow building across the street from the Bahnhof. They speak English and can find something for you that matches your requirements. They'll make the phone call for you and give you a map of Berchtesgaden.
This is a good place to pick up brochures about sights, tours and day trips. You can get copies of bus schedules as well; buses leave from in front of the train station and from the town on the main road (Franziskanerplatz, which becomes Maximillianstrasse), just off the pedestrian Markt. There are taxi stands in the same locations.
Practical tip: if you are arriving by train, you can walk up to the town, but the road is steep and it's a good ten minutes uphill with luggage. I did it once, but I wouldn't do it again! It's much easier to take a taxi from the train station, get to your hotel, ditch the luggage and then figure out the buses.
If you want to stay right in the old town there are a number of hotels and pensions to choose from. The two listed below consistently average high ratings from visitors (I haven't stayed in any of these, myself. I'm partial to the Türken, up on the mountain).
These Berchtesgaden hotels could be good choices if you want to spend time exploring the town, especially if you are without a car. The major sights in the area can be reached by bus from the town or train station.
These two hotels (marked on map below) are right in the center of the town, right in amongst the cafes and shops . Both have English-speaking owners and great views from some of the rooms; ask for one of the view rooms.
For an inexpensive stay and more contact with a local family, you might consider a room in a small, family-run establishment or family home. For many of these, you would probably need to have a car, unless you were willing to take a lot of taxis. The Tourist Office can suggest names and call for you, or if you're feeling adventurous and know a little German, you can use the handy notice board just outside the office.
Dozens of photographs of local guesthouses are posted there, with the prices and an indicator telling you whether they have a vacancy. Each inn has a number and there is a phone that connects directly to the inn when you dial the assigned number. Pretty nifty system. Or look at the pictures, get the names, then have the office make the call.
The community of Obersalzberg rises about 1200 feet above the town of Berchtesgaden. It's a ten minute drive up the mountain; buses and taxis are also available, although the last bus heading up there leaves the Bahnhof at 6:15 p.m. (5:15 p.m. on Fri and Sat).
Staying up there would be a real treat for anyone with an interest in the wartime history of Berchtesgaden. This was where Hitler had his home, the Berghof, along with some of his famous subordinates. The Documentation Center, an excellent museum about the Third Reich, is located there, as well as the departure point for buses to the Eagle's Nest.
There are two hotels up on the mountain, complete opposites in personality: the historic Hotel zum Türken and the newcomer, the Kempinski Hotel Berchtesgaden.
This charming old hotel survived the war and was a witness to much of the darker history of the Obersalzberg. Herr Hitler lived right next door; the ruined foundation of his house is merely a dozen yards from the Türken.
In 1933, the hotel was taken from its owners and used to house the SS guarding the Führer. The eerie bunker system under the hotel is open to the public.
This traditional Alpine hotel is unique; the decor is 1940's and there are no phones, TV's or internet connections in the rooms. The hotel is owned by the family of the wartime owner and they provide a warm welcome and a delicious breakfast for the guests.
The views are spectacular and the rooms are comfy and old-fashioned. Be sure to get reservations if you want to stay here, and request one of the view rooms. I highly recommend this remarkable place - one of my most memorable experiences.
For more information, history and photos, see the Hotel zum Türken.
The Kempinski (formerly the Intercontinental) is a large, luxury resort sitting on it's own hill with great views of the mountains. This is a high-end, very modern hotel with first-rate rooms, four restaurants, a swimming pool, spa and a Segway track for its guests.
There was a controversy over its construction; this was the same hill where Reichsmarshall Hermann Goering had his country home. All traces of his bombed-out house were removed and the shape of the hill was changed.
Some felt it wasn't really appropriate to build a luxury hotel on that spot, but the Bavarian government is pursuing a policy of returning the Obersalzberg to its original character as an Alpine resort and seems determined to erase most of the traces of its wartime history.
Rooms start at € 207.
For more information, see the hotel's website: Kempinski Hotel Berchtesgaden.