Insider’s Guide To
the heady days of the Weimar Republic established berlin as a place where anything goes, and that’s also the case today, thanks to Its libertine nightlife. This is not just a party town, however – it’s also a magnet for artists, culture heads and digital-media types. But where to go? we asked five local expertS to give us their GUIDED TOURS
THE club king D J SCUB A In a city where nearly everyone claims to be a DJ, you have to make quite a mark to stand out. And Paul Rose, aka Scuba, does just that. Founder of Hotflush Recordings, one of the most cuttingedge electronic labels in the world, Rose relocated from London to Berlin in 2007 and he’s never looked back. “What the clubs reminded me of immediately is how London was in the mid-1990s," he says. "They’ve got that combination of being really laid-back but intensely hedonistic, which is completely different
to how London is now. Clubs here can run as long as they want, which means people go out a lot later and stay out a lot later.” In 2008, Scuba started what has become one of Berlin’s most famous club nights, SUB:STANCE, at legendary nightclub Berghain. And despite being busy with gigs, running his label and remixing, he recently found time to release his third album, Personality, a genre-spanning journey across dance music. It's all in a day's (or night's) work.
“What the clubs reminded me of immediately is how London was in the mid-1990s”
SCUB A ON NIGHTLIFE A-Trane One of the best places to catch live jazz in Berlin (above). It’s also a good excuse to check out the west of the city, which has a very different vibe from the east. (105 Pestalozzistrasse; a-trane.de)
Beckett's Kopf This hidden bar (look for the picture of author Samuel Beckett and ring the doorbell to get in) has a seasonal drinks menu, but the barman knows his way round an Old Fashioned too (64 Pappelallee; becketts-kopf.de).
Club Der Visionaere A nice spot by the river with great DJs (usually techno) and surprise guests. Perfect for summer evenings or after-hours clubbing (1 Am Flutgraben; clubdervisionaere.com).
Horst They put on some really interesting nights at Horst, from hip hop to dubstep and beyond, pushing the musical boundaries in a way that’s not so common in Berlin (1 Tempelhofer Ufer; horst-krzbrg.de).
Berghain/Panorama Bar The obvious choice, but still the best club in the world. If you can’t make it for a SUB:STANCE night, which are on occasional Fridays, the best time to go is on a Sunday morning (Am Wriezener Bahnhof; berghain.de). TRAVELLER | 47
T H E F OOD BLO G G ER LU I S A W E I SS Berlin-born chef and writer Luisa Weiss is one of the city’s best-loved foodies. Since 2005 she has run the popular Wednesday Chef blog (thewednesdaychef.com), penning excellent recipes and food news from the city. More recently, her blog, Berlin On A Platter, has become the place to read about her food discoveries, ranging from hole-in-the-wall Asian restaurants, to new grocery stores and green markets.
“I guess I use food and cooking as a way of making sense of little things in my life,” she says. With one parent in the USA, Luisa spent 10 years in NYC before moving back to Berlin in 2009. Her writings have grown so famous that she recently inked a deal for a “food memoir”. The book, called My Berlin Kitchen: A Love Story (with Recipes), will be published by Viking in September.
w e i s s ON RES T A UR A N T S
DR r u s Ch e ON c u lt u r e
Snag a seat at the bar of this authentic Japanese restaurant in Prenzlauer Berg (above) to watch the head chef’s hands fly as he prepares fresh, delicious sushi – the cooked items are great too (50 Lychenerstrasse; sasaya-berlin.de).
A street full of art and culture, as well as the iconic Clärchens Ballhaus, with great galleries, such as me Collectors Room, and a renovated former Jewish girls' school, Haus der Kunst und Esskultur (House of Art and Dining Culture) – a massive three floors of galleries and restaurants.
Il Casolare This bustling Italian restaurant in Kreuzberg is run by punk-music fans and serves the only pizza in Berlin worth eating (30 Grimmstrasse; tel: +49 (0)30 6950 6610).
Old National Gallery For a change from contemporary art, visit the Alte Nationalgalerie (above) for some Old Masters (1-3 Bodestrasse; smb.museum).
Engelbecken Literature House
Come to this rustic yet elegant Charlottenburg spot for crisp, dinner-plate-sized schnitzel and delicious potato salad, just a few steps from the Lietzensee (31 Witzlebenstrasse; engelbecken.de).
T H E A R T I NS I DER DR T H O M A S RUSC H E
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An intimate, warm and unassuming French restaurant on a quiet street near the Schloss Charlottenburg. It features a rotating menu of specialities from different regions of France (60 Schlossstrasse; le-piaf.de).
Café Im Literaturhaus Breakfast at this stately villa just off the Kurfürstendamm is one of the nicest ways to start the weekend. If it’s warm, try to get a seat outside (23 Fasanenstrasse; literaturhaus-berlin.de).
photo © ahasver
“I guess I use food and cooking as a way of making sense of little things in my life”
A great place for interesting readings, especially nice in summer, thanks to the lovely garden (23 Fasanenstrasse Strasse: literaturhaus-berlin.de),
As a scion of the famous Rusche textile dynasty set up by his great-grandfather, it's hardly a surprise that Thomas Rusche should have sophisticated tastes. Even as a boy, he attended art auctions, exhibitions and major fairs inspired by his father, a collector of 17th-century Dutch masters. Now a world-renowned art collector in his own right, for Rusche Berlin means high culture: “There are so many young and international, as well as established, artists working and living here," he says, "that for me as a collector
it’s more than exciting.” An all-round aesthete, he’s also CEO of luxury fashion store SØR and has penned a bestselling sartorial book, A Well-Dressed Gentleman’s Pocket Guide, under the pen name Oscar Lenius. “In the 1920s, Berlin was one of the most important cities in Europe in terms of fashion and art. That changed with WWII and the Wall, but today Berlin has recaptured this potential. It’s a diverse metropolis that holds its own alongside cities like London or New York. It’s very distinctive and special.”
Volksbühne As well as amazing theatre productions, this is a good place to watch great bands on a small scale and see exciting experimental works (Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz; volksbuehne-berlin.de).
Piano Salon Christophori Regular concerts with fantastic international guests from the field of chamber music and jazz, and piano recitals, with concerts held in the bank buildings (8 Uferstrasse; konzertfluegel.com). TRAVELLER | 49
“Our aim is to create a space where people can share stories from all over the world” T H E l it e r a r y NE T W ORKER S H A R M A I NE LO V E G RO V E
s k o d a ON SHOPPING TorstraSSe Just stroll along this street, which is dirty, loud and interesting, and where everything is a bit hidden or special. It’s still original Berlin (Torstrasse, Mitte).
Andreas Murkudis High-quality, very well chosen design that spans clothing, furniture, porcelain, even silver (above, 81E Potsdamer Strasse; andreasmurkudis.com).
Trippen You can always find shoes here that you can’t find anywhere else. Most are handmade in Germany – it’s a unique brand (45 Alte Schönhauser Strasse; trippen.com).
T H E F A S H I ON I CON CL A UD I A SKOD A Claudia Skoda is one of Berlin’s key fashion veterans. In 1975, she started her label from a Kreuzberg factory. The space, which became an open house for artists and musicians, soon drew comparisons with Andy Warhol's own Factory. In 1981, she then opened her first store in SoHo, New York - opposite Vivienne Westwood’s. Then, when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, Skoda opened her first German branch. “The city was isolated, so you couldn't find cool, young fashion at that time,” she remembers. 50 | TRAVELLER
“You had to go to Amsterdam and London.” By 2000, however, all that had changed and Skoda opened a second shop in Linienstrasse, Mitte, before finally settling in Alte-SchönhauserStrasse, where she now works and lives. Her current store sells Skoda’s distinctive and highly sought-after knitwear designs. “I find Berlin very special because it follows its own inspirations,” she says. “The history, the art scene, the young musicians… These are what makes the city so inspiring.”
StraSSe des 17 Juni Fleamarket On Saturday and Sunday, 11am-7pm, you can find everything right here, in the middle of the Tiergarten, between east and west Berlin (Strasse des 17 Juni; berliner-troedelmarkt.de).
Zeit für Brot This new organic bakery is a great place to sit and watch the fashion people (and wannabees) passing by on the street (4 Alte Schönhauserstrasse; tel: +49 (0)30 2804 6781).
Berlin has a vibrant literary scene, with dozens of bookshops and regular events catering to both German and international audiences. Although it only opened in 2009, Dialogue Books (dialoguebooks.org) is at the forefront, thanks to founder Sharmaine Lovegrove. A British ex-pat, she regularly curates events, readings and happenings around the city that often take place in the coolest hotels. “Berlin is a city with countless stories. At Dialogue, our aim is to create a space
where people can share stories and ideas from all over the world using an international language,” she enthuses. “When people come to our space and have engaged in a story or a discussion that they can share with others, then I am fulfilling my goal.” Lovegrove runs literary salons at various venues from Soho House and Café Hilde to the Direktorenhaus and her Kreuzberg bookshop. She is also currently establishing Germany’s first English-language literary agency.
l o v e g r o v e ON H O T ELS Soho House Berlin Luxury without breaking the bank, Soho House (above) is the perfect place to relax after a day bargaining at the flea markets or wild nights on the Berlin club scene (1 Torstrasse; sohohouseberlin.com).
Hüttenpalast With three caravans and two Alpine huts within its indoor space, this is such a great idea and it encompasses all that is wonderful, quirky and engaging about Berlin (66 Hobrechtstrasse; huettenpalast.de).
Pension BERLIN This gem of a place is super fun, kitsch – and has a fantastic host called Frank (33 Schönleinstrasse; airbnb.co.uk/rooms/181160).
Circus Apartments Über-stylish and ideally located, these apartments are the latest addition to the ever-reliable Circus franchise (84 Choriner Strasse; circus-berlin.de).
NHow Hotel If you’ve come for the legendary music scene, this high-concept hotel, with its focus on music, fashion and art, will hit the right note (3 Stralauer Allee; nhow-hotels.com).
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