24. April 2013–
Big, beautiful and only slightly mentally deranged – Berlin is packed with enough inspiration to warrant a year-long stay. However, if you're only here for a short visit during the upcoming conference seasons, whether that's Berlin Web Week, TechCrunch Disrupt or Social Media Week, you can still pack some fun around your function.
Here's a smattering of our favorite bars, restaurants, shops and places to stay to make the most of your Berlin visit. From meeting fellow entrepreneurs at Europe's largest co-working space to finding inspiration for your next advertising campaign at an arty magazine store – Berlin is the perfect place to fire up your creativity. Welcome to this hot mess of a city.
Betahaus fashions itself as an incubator for new ideas, featuring flexible coworking spaces that encourage interaction among strangers. There's over 2,000 sq. metres of space here, making it one of the largest coworking spaces in Europe. In addition to flex desks, which start at just €12 a day, Betahaus also offers conference rooms, a cafe and evening workshops on a range of different topics.
WHERE: Prinzessinnenstraße 19-20
BEST FOR: Networking with other entrepreneurs
Co-work without breaking the bank. Agora offers a criminally cheap coworking space catering to the internationals who've descended upon Neukölln in recent years. The top floor functions as a party/yoga space but can easily be rented out for a daily pass. A restaurant on the ground floor serves dishes like herb risotto with shrimp for €6.50 – it’s kind of amazing.
WHERE: Mittelweg 50
BEST FOR: Seeing the alternative side of coworking
With an eye for effortlessly chic yet playful street wear, owners Lyon Roque and Ralf Linnenbrink have amassed a carefully curated men's clothing collection to die for. Trueffelschwein sells simple and elegant clothes from impossible-to-find labels such as YMC, Universal Works and Armor Lux, along with whimsical and playful accessories. Why not sip coffee on a cozy blue plush chair while a psychic saleswoman helps you pick out your next favorite ensemble?
WHERE: Rosa-Luxemburg-Straße 21
BEST FOR: Replacing your stale cubicle clothes
This small magazine and bookstore is filled with more provocative imagery than most galleries in Berlin. With literary journals and avant-garde fashion magazines from around the world, Do You Read Me? is one of the city's best arguments for the survival of print. On a recent Friday, the place buzzed like an exhibition opening, minus the champagne-fueled compliment contest – who knew books and magazines could be so exciting?
WHERE: Augustraße 28
BEST FOR: Getting ideas for the next big advertising campaign
Strewn with Christmas lights and topped by a disco ball, this restaurant slash dance hall serves gourmet German comfort food and hosts swing, waltz and tango lessons. Inside, a 19th century ballroom beckons both young and old. Located on the quietly sophisticated Augustrasse, you can bop in for some bee-bop and bop out for some modern art at nearby Kunst Werke.
ADDRESS: Augustraße 24
BEST FOR: Dining with the whole office
If money is no object, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better fine-dining experience than this Michelin-starred joint. Located on the fifth-floor terrace of the Mandala Hotel, Facil is surrounded by a zen garden and features a glass roof which retracts at night – revealing the moon and the stars. Seasonally-inspired dishes are sourced locally and only receive a place on the menu after a rigorous two-week tasting test. The current menu features cod with letcho, caperberries and champagne sauce or dover sole with gillardeau-oyster.
ADDRESS: Potsdamer Straße 3
BEST FOR: Wooing a big-shot investor
Owned by an Israeli expat, Sababa Hummus Cafe’s casual interior belies the sophisticated gastronomy taking place behind the counter – this restaurant is serious about its hummus. It comes in smooth, creamy swirls surrounding a small pool of olive oil and sprinkled generously with paprika. You can get it topped with tasty lamb kebab, whole chickpeas, hard-boiled eggs or as an accompaniment to a divine salad with bulgur, pomegranates, walnuts and cilantro. Prices are a bit steep but certainly cheaper than jetting over the Mediterranean.
WHERE: Kastanienallee 50
BEST FOR: Grabbing some quick nosh between presentations
The best Japanese place you've never heard of. Green tea is the favoured ingredient at this diminutive cafe and restaurant tucked into an unassuming building on busy Mehringdamm. It comes in three forms: tea, smoothie and muffin – all made with traditional matcha powder. If tea's not your thing, you're still going to love their udon noodle soup and salmon teriyaki, which arrives perfectly flaky on a soft pillow of rice. For dessert, try a macaroon (or two, or five).
WHERE: Mehringdamm 64
BEST FOR: Chatting with a new client/investor
A brightly fluorescent fried chicken store just stumbling distance from some of Kreuzberg’s rowdiest bars, Angry Chicken won’t make you feel as bad as eating at McDonald’s, but the restaurant uses similar tricks as the notorious American food chain. Why is their chicken so addictive? It’s the cinnamon, stupid. A sprinkle of the spice made famous by sticky buns graces each “angry” chicken piece, mixed into the sweet and spicy glaze. It’s crunchy, it’s sweet, it’s spicy and it’s messy.
WHERE: Skalitzer Straße 36
BEST FOR: Stuffing your face after a post- post-party
The drinks menu is the undisputed star of this exposed-brick basement bar in Kreuzberg, home to “old-timey cocktails” and more than a handful of drunk expats. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more innovative or wittily-named cocktail list than the one here. Example: Maude Flanders, which is made with vodka, apricot brandy, unfiltered apple juice, lemon bitters and brûléed apricot. On weekends, DJs spin old-school gangster rap as graphic designers sip beer in the small outdoor courtyard. It’s a little slice of Williamsburg in Kreuzberg.
WHERE: Skalitzer Straße 50
BEST FOR: Making out with a graphic designer
This popular wine bar near Rosenthaler Platz relies on the generosity of strangers to pay its rent. After a €2 charge to rent a glass, you are invited to drink as much wine as your heart desires, so long as you leave some kind of tip when you’re done. On warm nights, conversations spill out onto the sidewalk as travelers from different countries connect over glasses of chardonnay.
WHERE: Veteranenstrasse 14
BEST FOR: Meeting fellow travellers
Beckoning eminent DJs from around the globe, fan-favorite Kater Holzig sits along the Spree with an indoor and outdoor dance floor reminiscent of the dearly-departed Bar 25. Nothing could be more Berlin than the contrast between the somewhat derelict surroundings and the world-class music streaming through Holzig's top-notch sound system. You'll also find art exhibitions, dance classes, gourmet dining and plenty of folks committed to partying all weekend long.
WHERE: Köpenickerstraße 50
BEST FOR: Having a quintessentially Berlin night out
Rest and Relaxation
Celebrate Germany’s nudist culture at the hippest spa in town. Part intergalactic head trip and part luxury health spa, this minimalist palace of relaxation features a saltwater pool adorned with swirling LED lights and underwater speakers pumping live-mixed bossa nova and deep house music. Float aimlessly on a neon-colored noodle and imagine you’re light years away from Berghain, slowly orbiting Venus in a pleasurecraft. There are also a number of saunas, including one featuring scintillating Himalayan salts. This is relaxation as only Berlin can provide.
WHERE: Möckernstraße 10
BEST FOR: Getting rid of a hangover the expensive way
Viktoriapark would look incongruous anywhere outside of a Disney cartoon, but it’s an especially unexpected find in residential Kreuzberg. The man-made mountain features hiking paths that criss cross over a stunning and steep waterfall, topped by an ostentatious memorial to the Prussian fighters who died fighting Napoleon in 1815. It’s no Mount Everest, but the views from the top are still impressive. In the summer, this is a popular sunbathing spot, while winter transforms the city view into a snow globe filled with blinking tinker toys.
BEST FOR: Picnicking on a sunny day off.
Centrally-located in the heart of Silicon Allee, the Circus Hotel is a budget boutique hotel that’s got all its bases covered. Rooms here feature oak bed frames, vintage furniture, rainforest shower heads and original creative flourishes like a giant Roy Lichtenstein wallpaper print above the bedspread. Unexpected perks include free iPod and DVD rentals. In fact, this hotel is so goddamn helpful and welcoming, there’s even a section on its website with tips for moving to Berlin. You just can’t get any better for under €120 a night.
WHERE: Rosenthaler Straße 1
BEST FOR: Budgeting your boutiquing
OK, so the Radisson Blu might not be the hippest hotel in Berlin. But who wouldn’t want to stay in a room with a view of the Aquadome – aka the largest cylindrical tank in the world containing over one million litres of water, coral reef and hundreds of stunning fish? While all your hipster friends are trying to work their iPod docks at soulless design hotels, you can grab a drink in the lobby and watch as a double-decker elevator filled with tourists ascends into a swirl of clownfish and guppies. You’re also baby steps from the Berliner Dom and Museum Island, Alexanderplatz, Hackescher Markt and this ridiculous store that sells daytime pajamas.
WHERE: Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse 3
BEST FOR: Staying in the middle of the action
Michelberger says their hotel was built for "Austrian carpenters, Swedish models and English rockstars" – but we're sure you'll love it too. Located in the heart of Berlin's clubbing scene on rowdy Warschauer Strasse, Michelberger reflects the youthful, anarchic spirit of the neighborhood. Room decor and layout run the gamut from bare-bones hostel-style bunk beds to a majetstic suite with a gold-tiled bathroom and working fireplace.
WHERE: Warschauer Straße 39/40
BEST FOR: Exploring Berlin’s sprawling club scene
City life has its perks but if you ever find yourself missing the great outdoors, this indoor hotel and campsite is your next best bet. Six wooden cabins and vintage caravans just large enough for a double bed are scattered inside this old vacuum factory in Neukolln, offering a camping experience in the middle of one of Berlin's most creative areas. Enjoy a complimentary breakfast on a sunny hammock in the garden just outside. Bonus: no bears.
WHERE: Hobrechtstraße 66
BEST FOR: Camping – minus the bug spray
Viktoriapark – flickr user tommy.
All other images via the respective company's website or Facebook page