Accommodations: Hotel rooms still available

It's not too late to find a good place to stay, but whatever you do, do it soon.

Contrary to popular belief, there are still a fair amount of hotel beds left in each city and every category at any time. Even on match days and for the final.

"Nobody needs to be afraid he will not get a room," Verena von Gehlen of the World Cup Accommodation Service (WCAS) said. "Throughout Germany the capacities are big enough. We also have rooms for when there are games being played."

The WCAS, the tournament's official accommodation service, offers some 50,000 rooms in over 600 hotels at the respective game venues. All partner hotels are located near stadia and feature 24-hour service as well as English-speaking staff.

"There's a tendency towards late booking," added von Gehlen. "So it's still possible to get a two-star room for 52 euros. If you're booking through us, you will not be paying a huge add-on as is normally the case during special events like big fairs or the Oktoberfest. Our average price is 190 euros."

The WCAS has set constant prices which won't go up as the tournament comes nearer. "Our calculations in the respective categories (two to five stars) are based on the average room rate of 2003 plus a six-percent inflation bonus," von Gehlen explained. "Our price rates are very fair and significantly below the level of the 1998 World Cup. After all, we understand the World Cup as a chance to win the hearts of the travelers. They will hopefully come back in the next years."

If you prefer to try your luck on your own by directly contacting the hotels or booking through the internet, here's an inside suggestion: By May 1, the WCAS -- just as many other travel companies -- will return room capacities that have not been sold. Experts believe the local hotels could therefore offer rooms at a fairly cheap rate in the first half of May before raising prices the nearer the tournament gets. So again, it might be wise to book early.

ico_orbitz Look for hotels:

If you're looking for first-hand Germany experience, why not stay with a German family? At host-a-fan.de or wm-zimmer-2006.de, locals offer their apartments for rent. So if you're looking for a flat share with five students in Munich or fancy renting a villa in Berlin, check out their databases.

When it comes down to finding cheap places to stay, things could get tricky.

Most of the youth hostels in the host cities have only a few beds (if any at all) left. It's not enough for groups, but single travellers might try their luck. The youth hostel in Berlin Wandlitz, for example, still offers some dozens of beds. In Dortmund, there are rooms available after June 11 and in Cologne from June 26 on. Availability in other cities might vary, so it might be worth checking the World Cup section of the German youth hostel federation (Web site).

It's impossible to give a lowdown on the plenty of camping grounds in the venue cities. Some might already be fully booked due to the German summer holidays, while others are likely to have enough space even for groups. A lot of cities (like Berlin, Dortmund and Stuttgart) offer special youth camps near the stadiums. Best thing to do is visit the respective city homepages and click your way through.

On a sidenote, the English and the Dutch are likely to lead the soccer fans' camping ground invasion. Near Frankfurt, two facilities are solely reserved only for Oranje fans.

As a native of Germany, Johannes Berendt can't wait for the World Cup to start. He covers international sports for the British Press Association and ESPN SportsTicker.