Take a weekend in . . . Berlin
Now the tech firms are in town, Berlin is cooler than ever – but everyone can have fun here, not just 20-something hipsters
A more relaxed spot can be found in the clublike cocktail bar of the newly opened Monbijou Hotel. The bar that everyone is talking about, however, is Trust, a two-story lounge behind an unmarked door under railway arches, which has just the right mix of international DJ’s and gritty glamour: some surfaces are painted gold; others are of exposed concrete.
Coffee at the Barn
The Barn is a tiny cultish cafe on the corner of Auguststrasse where local style setters will wait 10 minutes for what they consider the perfectly brewed cup of coffee. The beans are bought from small farmers, the espresso machines are made in Seattle, filter coffees are single origin and adding sugar is frowned upon. (A cappuccino costs €2.40.)
If it’s too crowded, head to Barcomi’s Deli, one of the first cafes in Berlin to roast its own coffee beans. (A small cappuccino is €2.50.)
Kapoor in Berlin
Berlin’s current blockbuster exhibition is at the Martin-Gropius-Bau, a grand 19th-century exhibition hall not far from Potsdamer Platz. British sculptor Anish Kapoor has orchestrated a circuslike show of enormous throbbing, bulging, exploding and deflated artworks that spread out over about 32,000sq ft. Admission is €11.
Late market lunch
Farmers, foodies and protesters all mix at the revived historic Markthalle Neun, where every Friday and Saturday farmers sell their organic vegetables and cheese. A work-in-progress, the market hall keeps growing. Heidenpeters brewery opened up in the cellar of the building and more recently so did Sironi, an Italian artisanal bread maker. Grab a beer – there are two pale ales and a Belgian-style beer – at a bar in the market and some smoked fish at Glut & Späne (glutundspaene.de) and take in the local scene.
A vintage stroll
In and around the edges of the bohemian Kreuzberg and Reuterkiez neighbourhoods, vintage treasures are to be found on almost every corner. Start at the cheerful secondhand shop Pony Hütchen, a few minutes from the Markthalle, for vintage furniture, shoes and clothing (a 1950s cocktail dress goes for €35 to €45). Then head south and cross the Landwehr canal and make a stop at the cosy Katie’s Blue Cat to refuel with a cappuccino and snack such as Earl Grey shortbread biscuits. Wander down nearby Sanderstrasse and stock up on affordable vintage clothing and objects at a charming group of shops: Sing Blackbird, Vintage Galore and Aura. At Polka, a sweet little atelier also on Sanderstrasse, the designer Teresa Albiez will design a dress for €60 to €100.
In the same area where Kreuzberg meets Neukölln, sometimes called Kreuzkölln, graffiti-covered facades hide obscure 19th- and 20th-century buildings and the new life that is going on inside them. Several of the most interesting restaurants are in dilapidated-looking kneipes (pubs).
From the outside, the Gasthaus Figl looks as if it could belong in any German Alpine town, but in the kitchen they’re cooking up something new, for Berlin at least: pizzas with high-quality ingredients, including one topped with sardines, capers, garlic, thyme, rosemary, mozzarella, tomatoes and chilli oil (€8.90).