A QUICK GUIDE TO BERLIN
Everyone I know loves Berlin. After my first 48 hour trip to the city, I can confirm that I love it, too. A few tips gleaned from an all-too-brief stay last week.
Soho House Berlin
Absurdly affordable, but still dripping with Berlin's unique brand of restrained elegance. I loved the plush beds, fully-stocked selection of Cowshed toiletries, and the central Mitte location. I also loved the emerald green rooftop pool that overlooks the entire city (check out the view above) and makes for a bracing way to start the day in Berlin. Also: an inhouse hammam, really good breakfasts... I could go on.
Michelberger is another favourite among my friends who visit Berlin. We had a cocktail at the bar (they have an inhouse liqueur - nice touch) and liked the vibe. The rooms look great, too.
A cool Berlin friend informs me that this Kreuzberg institution is nowhere near as good as it used to be, but if you want to try some traditional German food then it definitely hits the spot. We went for goulash, schnitzel, and bratwurst, washed down with ill-advised amounts of cheap red wine. Service was friendly, too (not a given in Berlin).
The Kitchen Cafe
If you do end up staying at Soho House Berlin (or the upstairs, at the sleek Circus Apartments) this is a perfect alternate breakfast spot. €12 buys you a two course feast of yoghurt, muesli, fruit, meat, cheese, three types of toast, coffee and juice. The lady who runs the place is absolutely lovely, too.
In the final hours of our trip, we realised we were yet to try currywurst. Berlin blasphemy. Out of nowhere, this adorable outdoor fast food spot emerged, serving super-cheap currywurst, fat crispy chips, and Aperol Spritz in a bottle (!) all out of a remodelled Airstream trailer. We ate our food while standing up in the sunshine and literally sighing with pleasure. Was the whole thing a hallucination? Go there and find out for me.
NEUE ODESSA BAR
This dark, smokey bar is the perfect place for one of Berlin's super strong cocktails. They do all the regular suspects perfectly, and also serve a good selection of more imaginative mixed drinks.
MONSTER RONSON'S ICHIBAN KARAOKE
This place is trashy beyond belief, and all the more glorious for it. Nab a private glass booth and go mad with the selections. They seem to have every song ever written - we spent about four hours in there.
CLUB DER VISIONAERE
This riverside bar was packed on a cold, wet Sunday night, so I can only imagine how busy it must get in the midst of a Berlin summer. A good place to end a day at the incredible Badeschiff (a freshwater pool embedded in the river) or start the night superclub Arena. Both are just around the corner.
We didn't make it 'to the best club in the world', but you should probably try to.
Again, our two day trip didn't allow much time for cultural exploration but I can confirm that the Deutsches Historiches Museum is a good place to brush up on the country's complex history; that the Berlin Cathedral is a jewel-toned marvel, and that Kreuzberg is a great place to explore the contemporary art scene. Start at Johann Koenig, which is housed in a brutalist Catholic church. Only in Berlin.
- Lots of black. Suits the mood.
- Practical shoes - you will be walking a lot.
- A really warm coat if you're visiting in winter. A few layers even if you're not.
- Nothing fancy. Berlin is a stylish city, but not a dressy one. Try-hards are anathema.
- Berliners' direct mode of communication can seem rude at first, but don't be offended in the slightest. We found the city's inhabitants to be an extremely helpful bunch once you engage in conversation or ask for help.
- Berlin in winter is a totally different place to Berlin in summer. Choose your dates wisely, depending on what type of experience you want to have.
- This is a great city for a quick break - efficient, accessible and CHEAP. Three or four days is an adequate amount of time to get a feel for the place.