Written by Francois Correia
erlin is such a phenomenal city: raw, unpretentious and vibrant. With a past that insists in showing its memories, there is no way out but to face the ugly truths of a city that has suffered the deep bruising of two world wars.
Always looking at the new Berlin is one of the most open-minded cities in Europe. Though its history may seem stifling, it only adds to the vibrancy and reinvention that the city has gone through.
With a public transportation system that works around the clock, exploring the different areas of the city is easy and safe.
The local atmosphere feels very different in each area: Mitte and its fashionable streets, the new west of Charlottenburg and Schöneberg or hipster Neukölln with its artsy scene and middle eastern community.
From multicultural neighbourhoods to vast parks, a clubbing scene that is unmatched in Germany to a youthful wave of resident artists, filmmakers and musicians creating waves – Berlin makes an excellent escape for those who want a little of an urban adventure. My days in the city were welcoming, exciting and full of great music, drinks, diverse dinning experiences, and talks on the industrial rooftop pop-up bars of this modern city, where the approach to life seems to be the same to partying: don’t second guess, do it now.
In the new west, situated in the heart of Tiergarten, Das Stue is a chic destination. The hotel is housed in the former Danish Embassy and counts with large spaces designed by Patricia Urquiola. Behind the buildings’ modernist facade it is all about 1930’s glamour. The 78 rooms are set in a subdued color palette with quirky details – taxidermy abound. The hotel offers a Michelin star restaurant by Spanish chef Paco Perez and a splendid spa – indoor swimming pool and a sleek glass sauna.
Katz Orange Berlin
Housed in an abandoned church, the beautiful Katz Orange takes a holistic approach to fine dinning with a focus on mindfulness. Part of the Contemporary Food Lab, a project that shares part of the takings with its members for educational engagements which aim to increase consciousness on the environment and the relations between man, nature and food. The restaurant offers a menu richly based on European cuisine with beautiful fish and vegetarian options using locally or responsibility sourced, seasonal and natural products.
In hipster Neukölln, Roamers is a tiny welcoming bistro serving great earthy, beautifully presented food. The burgers are delicious as are the salads, drinks and indulgent desserts – not to mention the bloody-mary was exceptionally good! The cool thing about this place is that the restaurant is also a meeting point for musicians and plant lovers – the pots, buds, soil and plants are all for sale. On sunny afternoons you can bet there will be someone with a guitar outside, cup of coffee at hand and crowd singing along.
Super Concept Store
Part of the Bikini Concept Mall, Super Concept Store is a one-stop restaurant, deli & shop where you can really feel the vibrant Berlin vibe. The menu is what they call a portfolio of cross-over cuisine, a mix of tapas, burgers and a wide selection of vegetarian options, all with the intention to be shared. Tables are set amongst enormous plants pots and objects of curiosity.
The stores’ merchandising includes anything from specialty food products to candles, bicycles and stationary – all very design-minded. The outdoor restaurant & bar space has views of the Berlin Zoo and access to the rooftop gardens of the mall – a great place to watch the sunset on a sunny day. Blissfully chilled.
Located on the rooftop of the funky 25 Hours Hotel Bikini, Neni is all about Israeli fusion food. Take the high-tech lift via the cool artsy entrance of the hotel to reach the rooftop. The incredible vibe – floor to ceiling windows in an aquarium like space – affords endless views of all of Berlin. Try the Middle Eastern platter or one of the many vegetarian options and their signature cocktails – don’t miss the knafeh – a Jerusalem speciality dessert made of paper thin pastry, honey and cheese.
The Soho House brand hits Berlin with the beautiful store located at their hotel in Torstrasse street. The building from the 1920’s has had many incarnations including home to the soviet communist party central committee after the war. Nowadays, the ground floor hall is transformed into one of the coolest spaces to shop, play, work and eat in this part of Mitte, a great location close to one of the city’s landmarks – the iconic TV tower.
The store is a hybrid space – where dinning tables and lounges mingle amongst clothing racks, bookshelves and a vinyls. Watch the fashion crowd during an afternoon tea, a very pleasant selection with wonderful salads and raw-food desserts on offer, or simply browse the wonderful selection of curated lifestyle objects and exotic plants.
Star Styling is such a cool brand – unpretentious, free and very Berlin. With a fashion range of sweatshirts, denim and shirts the brand is all about abstract embroidery, foil prints and polka dots. Particularly nice are the shorts and sweats with hand and eye motifs – beautifully made in a tonal colour range. The store is located in Mulackstrabe in Mitte, one of the coolest streets of this fashionable district.
Andreas Murkudis, the creator of AM, wants you to feel the store – a space he conceived to be enjoyed and to make you feel good. The director of the Museum der Dinge, a design museum in Berlin, Andreas conceived the AM+ as a concept store beautifully located at the Bikini Concept Mall – all white walls, minimalist feel and open single space. The wide landscape of goods ranging from fashion, product design, jewelry, accessories and cosmetics showcases luxurious, independent and niche brands like Aesop, A.P.C, Van Noten and the AM’s own range. The space also counts with a wonderful coffee bar.
Visit an abandoned American surveillance station.
Visiting Teufelsberg is a surreal experience. The place is full of history – a former Nazi college and later during the cold war an American Surveillance Station, abandoned with the fall of the Berlin wall. Called the ‘Devil’s Mountain’, the hill was built using 12 million cubic square meters of war rubble. The structure of the station has been taken over since by street artists and party entrepreneurs who use the surreal space for unique events, long all night parties and exhibitions. There are organized tours to visit the area and parties happen there regularly.
Party on one of the many rooftop bars.
Berlin has an incredible party scene but the evenings truly come to life in spring and summer when many pop-up rooftop bars open their wonderful spaces, gardens and open-air showers to an eclectic crowd and DJ sets that are worthy of the sunsets the locations afford. Klunkerkranich is a good place to start – with a sandy ‘beach’; gardens and hipster vibe, the space has amazing views and drinks.