A Cultural Cool Capital
Our World | On 17, Apr 2012
I have just returned from a 3 night stay in Berlin which I have to say is now my new favourite European city. Apparently, it’s not unusual for a casual visit to Berlin to end up as a permanent residency and whilst I have no intention of relocating, it’s easy to see how/ why people do.
Despite having been two cities for 41 years, Berlin has developed a well connected transport system of trains, buses, underground and trams. Custard colour taxis are always readily available and are fairly inexpensive.
Hotel prices in general are very reasonable for a capital, so it is no surprise that Berlin remains one of Europe’s top city-break destinations. We were fortunate enough to stay at the Rocco Forte Hotel de Rome, a contemporary property, originally built as the HQ for Dresdner Bank. Centrally located in Bebelplatz, the hotel offered great service and friendly staff. The concierge suggested a few places that we should visit during our stay and to be honest his advice was right up our Straße! There are also the likes of Soho House with their signature private cinema and Cowshed spa in the very cool location of Torstrasse with its trendy array of bars and restaurants.
We visited several different areas of the city in the hope of seeing the real Berlin rather than just the usual tourist attractions. Cafe culture abounds and shopping around the back streets of the Scheunenviertel neighbourhood offers lots of individual boutiques, vintage shops, furniture by local designers and some of the major label stores such as Adidas, Fred Perry and Urban Outfitters.
In terms of nightlife, there is a culture of ‘club restaurants’ many of which are accessed via secret unmarked doors which add a different dimension to the nocturnal landscape. Venues are often hidden behind graffiti covered facades and are housed in old industrial spaces which all add to the edgy underground appeal. Not that I’m a big drinker, far from it but I also found my new favourite drink – Wodka Rhubarber – Vodka Rhubarb – a speciality of Restaurant Cookies Cream (you need to try it, next time you’re in the city).
So for a combination of culture, cool and value for money I would definitely recommend a trip to Berlin and in case you hadn’t guessed, I’m planning on heading back sometime very soon.