City Guide: Berlin

In many ways, Berlin is not your typical European capital, or even a typical German one. With less work and more play - the city was divided by the Berlin Wall until 1989, which meant that there was very little industry to be found - the sprawling (but not densely populated) city of three million often exudes the impression of a metropolis still finding itself. Here, past and future coexist - although there are still many signs of the political and cultural divide, which existed for almost 30 years, the cityscape is constantly changing.

While a bit of embourgeoisement may have become noticeable, Berlin's energy (and relatively low rents) have always attracted those who want to be different and find new ways of doing things. Boasting countless galleries, design-led boutiques and a effervescent nightlife that always showcases the best in cutting-edge music, Berlin has become a cultural powerhouse. It is a thriving and open city that some of the world's most interesting people have made home - and in the process, they have finally managed to teach locals how to make excellent food.

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Das Stue

Berlin, Germany

This former Danish Embassy turned luxury-boutique hotel in West Berlin overlooks Tiergarten, Berlin’s version of Central Park. When you aren’t enjoying the views of the animals from the floor-to-ceiling windowed rooms, unwind at the Susanne Kaufmann spa complete with an indoor pool and a Finnish bath. Later, dine at Michelin-starred Cinco or have a drink at the hip Stue Bar.

Address

Drakestraße 1 Tiergarten 10787

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Hotel de Rome

Berlin, Germany

Formal meets friendly at this impressive Rocco Forte boutique hotel. Situated in a former bank in the middle of Mitte’s Bebelplatz, it is just a stone’s throw from the State Opera, Berlin Cathedral and Alexanderplatz. Its sophistication doesn’t lack style – decorated in green and gold, there is a pool and spa situated in a former vault and a spacious rooftop terrace. With no expense spared and impeccable service, it attracts business-class travellers, but never feels stuffy.

Address

Behrenstraße 37 Mitte 10117

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Gorki Apartments

Berlin, Germany

Straddling the line between Airbnb and hotel, the Gorki apartments offer a genuine experience for anyone looking for a local experience. Housed in a residential building near the central Rosenthaler Platz in Mitte, the apartments are just a short stroll from interesting shops, restaurants and cafés. The homely yet sophisticated interiors makes it extremely easy to settle in. And who needs room service when you have everything from Mexican burritos, to a health-food paradise and Russian blinis on your doorstep?

Address

Weinbergsweg 25 Mitte 10119

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Provocateur

Berlin, Germany

Dimmed lights, lavish velvet and burlesque red — the allure of 1920s Paris meets Berlin’s louche attitude. As the name suggests, this hotel oozes mystique and sex appeal with an ambience that can keep visitors captive for much longer than planned. From the Chinese-French restaurant to the classic bar, everything here whispers indulgence.

Address

Brandenburgische Strasse 21 Charlottenburg 10707

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Soho House Berlin

Berlin, Germany

Berlin’s Soho House outpost is housed in a restored Bauhaus building in Mitte and hosts creatives from all over the world. Although the private members’ club mentality is not typical of Berlin, even those who detest the concept and the occasionally self-aware crowd can appreciate the amazing city views from its rooftop bar and pool. Generous communal spaces including a cinema, a Cowshed spa and a restaurant ensure a social atmosphere in this opulent yet modern space.

Address

Torstraße 1, 10119 Berlin, Germany

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Michelberger Hotel

Berlin, Germany

Once described as the “hipster of Berlin hotels”, the Michelberger is a place for those who appreciate a lively atmosphere and communal vibes. Its friendly service offers an extra-late checkout for evening performers, drawing in musicians and night owls alike. The hotel’s 100 well-designed rooms are housed in an old factory. Ask for a room on the second or third floor for more light and escape the noise from the bars in the jostling Friedrichshain neighbourhood.

Address

Warschauer Straße 39/40 Friedrichshain 10243

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Boutique Houseboat

Berlin, Germany

For the more adventurous, wake up to the sound of ducks on this tranquil boutique glass houseboat. Located 20 minutes outside the city centre, it boasts an open-plan deck, a kitchen, a seating area and a wood-burning stove – perfect for warming up on winter nights along the frozen river.

Address

Gustav-Holzmann-Str 10 Lichtenberg 10317

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Sir Savigny

Berlin, Germany

In Berlin’s trendy Charlottenburg neighbourhood, this hotel is a haven for bibliophiles. Combining traditional decor with quirky paraphernalia, the hotel library is prime territory for browsing as well as admiring literary-themed artworks created by local artists. Choose your book then head to one of Charlottenburg’s cafés, or take it up to your room to enjoy while you soak in the freestanding bathtub and contemplate pressing the “Dial-A-Burger” button for a bun delivered to your door.

Address

Kantstrasse 144 10623 Berlin Germany

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Ostel Hostel

Stay in a time-warp museum where you’re encouraged to touch everything you come across. This Berlin hostel overflows with faux plotted plants and lava lamps that appear to have been lifted straight out 1970s Germany… or the prop cupboard of Rushmore.

Address

Wriezener Karree 5, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, 10243 Berlin, Germany