Friday, December 12, 2014

Berlin, Germany

Executive summary by darmansjah

Best For Museums

The Pergamon Museum is a feast of classical Greek, Babylonian, Roman, Islamic and Middle Eastern art and architecture. The highlights is the marble Pergamon Altar (00 49 30 2090 5555; Museum Island; 10am-6pm Fri-Wed, 10am-10pm Thu: US$16).

Best For Views

For great city views, take the lift to the observation deck of the Panoramapunkt. From here it’s easy to see that Postdamer Platz is divided into : Daimler City, the flashy Sony Centre, and the Beisheim Centre inspired by America skyscraper design (panorama punkt de; Postdamer Platz 1; 10am-8pm; Us$6).

Best For Culture

Berlinagenten specializes in private customized tours off the beaten track and into unique boutiques, bars and restaurants – even private homes. For the culinary scene try the Gastro-Rallye tour (00 49 30 4372 0701;; from US$235 per person).

Best For Walks

Little more than a mile of the Berlin Wall survives as a symbol of the triumph of freedom over oppression. The best-preserved stretch is the East Side Gallery by artists in 1990. A wall guide maps its course, with commentary and GPS (; US$13 per day).

 Why Go?

In the past 100 years alone Berlin has staged a revolution, headquartered fascists, been divided, then reunited – a past that feeds the city’s experimental character. Avant-garde museums, eclectic galleries, grand opera and late-night clubs – they’re all here.

When To Go

Berlin winters are cold, with frequent rain and snow. Instead, visit in May and June you can catch the Culture Carnival. Otherwise September is good for art and jazz festivals, and in December you can shop in the Christmas markets.

How To Go

Berling Tegel Airport is currently the city’s main international airport, until the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport opens on 3 June 2012 and flights direct there instead. From either Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, fly into Berlin with Lufthansa ( or Qatar Airways (; with a stop in Frankfuter Munich, or at Doha repectively

Eat & Drink

Anna Blume, Prenzlauerberg, lures patrons into its velvety art-nouveau interior all day long. Perfumed by homemade cakes, java coffee, and flowers from the attached shop, it has a good people-watching terrace too (00 49 30 4404 8749; café; kollwitzstrasse 83; 8am-2am; mains Us$6-US$13).

The lamps and Meissen tile mural are from the old GDR-era Palast der Republik (former East German parliament), but Tartane is a contemporary gastro pub. Bohemian clientele enjoy burgers and Kolsch beer from Cologne (00 49 30 4472 7036;; Torstrasse 225; 6pm-2am Mon-Sat; mains US$11-US$24).

Engelbecken is a lakeside charmer with impeccably crafted German soul food. Local organic meat and seasonal produce might include roast organic veal meat loaf (00 49 30 6152810; vitzlebenstrasse 31; dinner Mon-Sat; midday-1am Sun; mains Us$11-US$29).

At hip Spindler & Klatt, in a former Prussian bread factory, loll on a platform bed while eating creative fusion dishes such as beef bavette and sesame potatoes (00 49 30 319 881 860; spindler klatt; kopenicker Strasse 16-17; dinner, Thurs-Sun; mains Us$19-US$29).

Try Michael Kempf’s Michelin starred cuisine at avant-garde Facil. Expect elegantly presented dishes such as alba truffles or saddle of poulting hare (00 49 30 59005 1234;; Mandala Hotel, Postdamer Strasse 3; Mon-Fri; two-course lunch US$40, dinner from US$110).


Getting Around

Berlin’s public transport system is run by BVG and consists of the U-Bahn and S-Bahn trains, buses and trams (  Buy train tickets from vending machines at stations. For taxi rides up to two miles, request the Kurzstreckentarif short-trip rate (US$5.50 per trip).

Typical Cost

Ampelmann T-shirt from US$24; mid-range meal US$24-US$40; Mid-range hotel from US$110; Mid-end hotel from US$240


Helmut Newton studied with fashion photographer Yva at the Hotel Bogota in the 1930s and this landmark still hosts glam photoshoots. It has great vintage charm, period paneling up the staircase and retro furnishings. Room sizes vary greatly and the cheaper ones share a bathroom (00 49 30 881 5001;; Schluterstrasse 45; from US$85).

Propeller Island City Lodge was inspired by Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and each of the 32 rooms is a journey to a unique, surreal world. Wake up in a Disney-style castle, a padded prison cell or a kaledeiscope (00 49 30 891 9016;; Albrecht Achilles-Strasse 58; from US$110).

Arte Luise Kunsthotel bills itself as a ‘gallery with rooms’. Each room reflects the vision of a different artist, who receives royalities whenever it’s booked. You might sleep in a bed built for giants, in the company of astronauts or in a red ‘Cabaret’. Courtyard rooms are quieter (00 49 30 284 480;; Luisenstrasse 19; from US$135).

Arcotel John F pays homage to John F kennedy with whimsical detail, including rocking chairs (because he used one to combat a bad back) and curvaceous lamps inspired by Jackie’s ball gown (00 49 30 405 0460;; werderscher Markt 11; rom US$160).

Once a 19th-century bank HQ, the Hotel de Rome has since been transformed by designer Tommaso Ziffer into a modern hotel. The former vault is now the pool or spa area and the directors’ rooms, still with wartime shrapnel damage, are now suites with luxurious furnishings (00 49 30 460 6090;; Behrenstrasse 37; from US$530).

Your Recommendations

Good Thinking  - by Judy Hoffman

Café Einstein is a traditional Vinnese-style café serving everything from breakfast to light lunches, formal evening meals, schnitzels and cakes. The atmosphere and service are excellent; you can sit here for as long as you like, reading the papers, drinking coffee and eating cake or something more substantial. It’s also great for a quick break from sightseeing (00 49 30 261 5096; Kurfurstenstrasse 58; mains from US$19).

Eastern Charm – by David Cuschieri

Located in former East Berlin, Bar Gargarin has laid-back, welcoming ambience with fashionable décor. Adorning the walls, in-vogue propaganda artwork makes a good keepsake for any tourist. The food and wide range of drinks served here are inexpensive and the bar provides the ideal backdrop from which to appreciate the arty bohemian Prenzlauerberg district (; Knaackstrasse 22-24).

Food For Thought – by Katherine Lapworth

Berlin’s luxury KaDeWe department store is well worth a visit; it’s got seven floors of fashion, design, restaurants and art. The jewel in its crown, however, is the food hall where you can find everything from sausages to champagne. It’s not only stuffed full of gourmet treats but is a window on what the well-heeled Berliner is buying for their supper (; Tauentzienstrasse 21).

Find Out More
You can download the Berlin chapter from the Germany guide at  Read Christopher Isherwood’s The Berlin Stories, the inspiration for Cabaret. For what’s on, check out and

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