STAY in Berlin:
The Dude Hotel
With 62 Alexander Schmidt-Vogel begins a second career - after his international success with his communication agency MediaCom. He transforms a historical building from 1822 in Berlin-Mitte into a 27-room hotel, designed to have thought-provoking effects on his guests. No room resembles another, and the styles are wildly garbled: Alexander Schmidt-Vogel glues, inspired by drafts from the Dusseldorf interior designer Uwe van Afferdeen, suitcases onto the walls and installs crystal chandeliers next to them, puts gym benches into the entrance area, Kartell furniture to Biedermeier tables and so-called maxi bottles with wine, water and champagne into the colourful minibars. The breakfast for hotel guests is served in Schmidt's Deli Deluxe. The restaurant in the souterrain, the Beef Club, offers large steaks from the American Angus cattle.
Lux doesn't just stand for luxury, but also the great amount of light, that fills the loft rooms. A bit of Zen, a bit more apartment than hotel and a lot of relaxation, which is really necessary after a lively day in the big smoke. This house is found in the middle of the Mitte, and that alone is naturally a big plus. Once you step out the door there are galleries everywhere you look, and the best opportunities to grab a bite or to go out are just a stone's throw away.Luxury and service are celebrated at the Lux 11, but it is done in such an understated way, that you won't be followed by those supposedly helpful service staff. Even if that was the case, it wouldn't matter much: just hop in the hotel slippers and bathrobe and retreat to your hideaway. The smallest rooms are only 30 square metres large, but the more beautiful ones even have their won balcony. Otherwise, the white minimalism reigns supreme, and it does that rather well. One night in a double room can be yours from ? 139
Artists, bohemians and the avant-gard painted the town red here in the wild 1920's and you there is still a certain wicked aura that surrounds the building. The small Café Sankt Oberholz is popular amongst locals and visitors from around the world. Those that sit around long enough to realise they don't want to go home can bunk in one of the apartments on the top floor. So what's here? Well first and foremost, comfort, style and an aftertaste of the 20's, which melts in your mouth. The hotel boasts high ceilings, impressive views, works of art on the walls and vintage furnishings that actually appear to be really modern. Four to six people can stay in an apartment and when your travelling group starts to get on your nerves, then get out on to the street, as you are right in the middle of Berlin. ? 220 will get you an apartment for four.
SIGHTS in Berlin:
Off we go to the Grunewald and to its highest point at 115 metres: the Teufelsberg (devil's mountain), an elevation that was made from WWII debris and attracts walkers, mountain bikers and kite-flyers to the fresh open air in summer and cross-country skiers in the winter. The view is great, covering the area surrounding Berlin and it's city skyline. And this is very reason why this place was once a spy post. During the cold war, the Americans and the British used to position their listening devices here. Every now and again curious ones stumble into the dilapidated facility, even though it is prohibited and officiall cordoned-off.It looks like the building permission expired here, as a considerable apartment and hotel complex was once in the works, along with David Lynch's aspirations for a university and meditation centre. Thankfully nothing became of these plans and the Teufelsberg remains wild mountain territory, apart from the local vineyard. Those who are searching for a green space to recharge their batteries should definitely do it here. A small tip: don't forget to bring your swimming gear, as you will pass by the Teufel lake on the way up the mountain. But if you do forget them, don't worry, as the naturist community also has a good presence.
To avoid having to repeat ourselves, we will proclaim it loudly: Anything that belongs to the UNESCO cultural heritage list is always worth a visit. The Berlin Museuminsel has belonged to the clib since 1999, and for very good reason. The five museums that call the Spree island home constitute a very unique architectural ensemble, which portrays the development of meseum design and architecture over more than a hundred years.So take a stroll across the island and take in the peace and beauty that is there for everyone to enjoy. Your journey could even take you into one of the museums; das Alte (old) Museum, das Neue (new) Museum, das Nationalgalerie, das Bode-Museum and das Pergamon-Museum. Our recommendation: Visit the Pergamon museum, as it has earnt its name worldwide through its reconstruction of the most imposing architectural complexes.
Bright, airy, friendly and white: that's how you would characterise most art museums and galleries. The collection Boros in Berlin however has decided against such an exhibition space and instead moved into a premise with a moving past. A building which does not dodge behind art but tells a story of its own. The former bomb shelter was erected by the National Socialists during the second World War, later occupied by the Red Army and transformed into a war prison. From the 1950s onwards it was used as storage for textiles and tropical fruit, and at the beginning of the 1990s a hardcore techno club moved in. In 2003 the art collector Christian Boros from Wuppertal bought the building and refurbished it into a gallery under strict conditions. Now you can see - after preliminary registration - works by artists such as Ai Weiwei, Cosima von Bonin, Olafur Eliasson, Thomas Ruff and Wolfgang Tillmans, with the exceedingly interesting premises on top.
EAT in Berlin:
If the Royal Grill is a bit too suave for you, then this is the best alternative barbeque location Berlin has to offer. It's not so dazzling, but rather relaxed, a legend in it's own right and it boasts an idyllic garden. In the middle of Kreuzberg, in the middle of Viktoriapark and right in the middle of the field there is space for over 100 guests spread over two floors.One quick view of the massive grill and there's no doubt that there is enough meat to go around for everyone. On a clear summer evening, it's advisable to grab a spot at around 4pm. That way you will have some space to yourself, at least for an hour or so.The clientele here show two different faces; laid-back and dynamic. From the Kreuzberg original, business men to students, anyone could be your neighbour at a table. So order a 'Berliner Weisse' beer, along with some sausage, meat and potatoes. As you will see, there's everything here for a great evening in Berlin.
Are you one of those die-hard soup fans who cannot pry themselves away from a bowl of the hot stuff, even on a 30 degree day? No? Then after a visit to Susuru you might be showing up to the recruitment office of this exclusive club.Susuru is Japanese for slurping, which although is not the most welcome tone at the dinner table in Europe, is seen as a compulsory excercise in Japan. If you appreciate your soup, then it is customary to show this by slurping. There's soup with noodles, with seeweed, shrimps, spices, with mini pastries - yes, with pretty much anything that is fresh and fits into a soup pot. A real highlight is the Ebi Kimchi Udon with crispy fried shrimp.Those who can't find the savour in a bowl of flavour should nibble their way through the starters menu. Even at a table of soup-freaks, anyone should be able to find a place. The decor is bright and friendly, the epitome of modern Asian design. Service comes around round tables and round benches, or you can opt for the high bar stools at the counter. Japan goes Berlin Mitte.
When was that again? Nobody knows for sure. But at one point in Berlin, there came the day when Austrian cuisine became the in-thing. Austrians with friends in Germany would post off cheese-sausages and Manner waffle biscuits to their poor friends, relieiving the pain until the next Wiener Schnitzel.So save your trip to the post office and send those wistful ones to the Alpenstück. Everything here is freshly prepared using only the freshest ingredients. Bonus. Another bonus is the menu, which is full of delicacies from southern Germany and Austria, such as; Spätzle, Schnitzel and Apfelstrudel. The true heart of the mountains. What more could you want?A shot of Obstler liquor perhaps? Then take a pick from 40 of the best around!As another bonus, the restaurant is beautifully furnished. Personal touches such as the shindle covered walls really add to the traditional touch. However, you can leave your lederhosen at home.
SHOPPING in Berlin:
The scene shoemakers are on the job right here: There's 60 sq metres of just about everything that would like to wrap themselves around the feet of coolest trendsetters of the world. And the latest designer handbags to boot! Need a few names? Latitude Femme, Dico und Abro. WASTE from Barcelona and Veja from France. The last two aforementioned labels don't just design for the eye's pleasure, but also for a good cause: both colelctions are made from Fair Trade raw products and recycled materials. There's also a wide range of labels from Scandinavia, Italy, Spain and Portugal. The motto demands that the shoes and brands should remain unknown, well, at least to the masses.The decor of the concept store is quite minimalistic. Each shoe has it's own lit mini-display window. Shoe fetichists agree that man's best friend should be treated so. And the customers are also treated well: the store assistants lend great advice and test fittings are done on an oversized leather couch. Even if there's stacks of shoe boxes around you the staff still remain friendly, as they know exacly how it is to be in love with not just one, but all of them.
The name may be somewhat misleading. Eisdieler (ice-cream dealer) hints towards the presence of ice-cream, and lots of it. But the search for creamy respite will have to be taken elsewhere... Whether it's urban sassy or sassy casual doesn't matter. Its gotta be cool and be suited to late trip down to the local nightclub. As the four in-house designers can't be expected to create everything, every now and again other artists are invited to add their two cents. For example Jim Avignon designed a pair of shoes for Eisdieler not so long ago. Of course it's not cheap to fit yourself out with the sassiest labels in the city. Cult comes at a price. A branded t-shirt costs upwards from ? 25.
The Corner East
Welcome to the Vatican. No, it's not about the frumpy or the religous, and the people here are definitely not from yesterday. The bearers of possibly the hippest corner of the city are Josef Voelk and Emmanuel Bayser count as the popes of the Berlin fashion and design scene. While one writes for Vogue, the other does Katie Holmes' outfitting. When one is giving fashion tips to GQ, the other takes Tom Cruise on a shopping tour.The store is abundant with big, elegant labels such as Balenciaga, Lanvin, Stella McCartney and Marc Jacobs. Take the advice given in the store and you will be miles ahead when it comes to fashion, as both men know exactly what tomorrow will bring. One tip: Brace yourself, as you will find it all here - cosmetics, books, furniture and accessories.