I always struggle to articulate what attracts me to Berlin. Since my first trip at the age of sixteen, I feel like I’m selling my favourite city short when I reach for the “so cool” cop out without elaborating further. I’d blame the hazy comedowns but that excuse soon wears thin.
Unless you’ve taken the effort to dive beneath Berlin’s surface, it’s hard to see why I keep booking flights back. This is a city that doesn’t welcome tourists with open arms. From the brutalist buildings that cut a striking presence on the straße, to the menacing bouncers blocking the portals to that tough techno sound the city’s become synonymous with, you have to work hard to reap the rewards Berlin has to offer.
This might come across as a humble brag but I’ve partied at Panorama Bar, snooped around squats and bought burgers from Burgermeister yet I still don’t feel like I’ve got the Berlin sussed.
Berlin’s a city that plays hard to get but maybe that’s exactly what makes it so attractive.
Below are some spots I stumbled upon during a recent visit – places that are certainly worth a visit and help prove that Berlin is brutally beautiful.
Built by the Nazis in 1942, this brutal bugger of a bunker now shelters a brain-bending collection of contemporary art. Tours are limited to twelve people so you need to book ahead. Well worth it.
Tucked off Oranienstraße in a tiled courtyard, Voo Store is a seriously nice setup. From Acne bombers to Libertine-Libertine shirts, this is a lifestyle store that knows its clientele. You can also get a great coffee from Companion Coffee that shares the space. Oh, and I also had a chance to check out that Yeezy Season gear – I love the guy but come on now.
With the exception of the €1 döner kebab, the Berlin food scene has always come across as a little unappetising. Recently though, restaurants have sprung up around the city that offer something a little special. One such spot is Pacificio, one of the city’s trendy Asian burger joints knocking out tasty Korean fusion fast food that kicks currywurst to the kerb. K?
You just know that any DJs passing through Berlin will stay at this dope hotel opposite Warschauer Straße station. Sound if you decide to get a room here but if not then it’s a serious pre-party spot worth seeking out.
Salon Zur Wilden Renate
Determined to check out a club I hadn’t been to before and playing host to some of the Rush Hour Records squad during my trip, Renate was at the top of my “sight-seeing” list. The door policy was delightfully strict and the party was, well, I’ll keep that a secret…
Like every city everywhere, the third-wave coffee scene is a big deal in Berlin. Yeah, yeah, it’s the beverage of the beardy hipster – bore off. Distrikt also served up a banging breakfast too. Put in an order for the pancakes…damn. A honourable mention also goes out to the coffee at New Deli Yoga in Kreuzberg. Don’t get it twisted though, I didn’t do any yoga.
Flea Market near Treptower Park
Imagine a warehouse full of all the stuff everyone’s ever lost or robbed. You’ll find it here.
Santa Maria Eastside
I once had a post-Watergate curry in Kreuzberg and it was easily the most toxic thing I threw down my neck all weekend. However, this little Mexican spot brought the heat. The tacos were on point.
House of Small Wonder
This is the sister restaurant of a spot in Brooklyn. A fact I bet pisses Berlin’s hipster bashers right off. The breakfast here wasn’t too my taste. However, they will serve you up a tasty hair of the dog in an setting that won’t fail to get you some serious heat on Instagram.
This place is super cool. Otherwise known as an off licence, liquor store or offy, I recommend reaching for a roadie or two as you wander around the streets of Berlin. Take a few swigs when you stop off at a photoautomat to get your picture taken for €2.