What to Do in Berlin

Melting pot.

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A melting pot of art, culture, music, food, and design, Berlin is a haven for creative sightseers. From where to sleep off your jet lag to where to grab a rooftop beer, here are some must-visit spots in this bustling German city.

Sleep: Michelberger Hotel

The Michelberger Hotel is a quirky retreat with an emphasis on small and local, offering boutique lodging full of homely yet creative design. The lobby is a concrete room made warm with salvaged wood and stuffed bilingual book shelves, and the rooms are done up in many unique styles. One called the Hideout is a little angular house within a room; another, called Clever, has walls lined with novels glued face-down.

The attached restaurant drives home the local-first attitude held at the Michelberger: delivering seasonal cuisine with ingredients hunted and gathered from areas closely surrounding Berlin, it offers dishes such as wild pigs’ head fritters with smoked apple. When the evening winds down and it’s time for a nightcap, look no further than the bar. The hotel even has its own two herbal spirits: the whimsically-named Michelberger Forest and Michelberger Mountain.

Eat: Nobelhart & Schmutzig

To sommelier Billy Wagner and chef Micha Shäfer, “local food” means brutally so: you won’t find chocolate, or pepper, or tuna fish on your plate at Nobelhart & Schmutzig. If it can’t be grown or harvested in Berlin and the surrounding areas, it can’t be served at this restaurant. But axing common ingredients like lemon doesn’t make for a blander meal—in fact, Shäfer is famous for packing a flavour punch.

Just this November, his modern take on German food was awarded a Michelin star. Dining in this small establishment is oddly similar to waiting at the kitchen table for your mum to make you an after-school snack. The seating is arranged around the prep area, so you’re directly in front of where your meal is being made. Dinner itself is 10 courses with no a la carte options; sharing is necessary, enjoyment is inevitable.

Shop: VooStore

Gosha Rubchinskiy, Raf Simons, and Acne Studios are just some of the brands that line the walls of VooStore. A concept retailer with an in-house coffee shop, VooStore is a proprietor of new classics, creating a selection of timeless wearable pieces. Button yourself up in a Jill Sanders shirt, lace on some collaboration NikeLabs, and float to the connected Companion Coffee for a perfectly made macchiato. There could be worse afternoons.

Relax: Stadtbad Neukölln

The Stadtbad Neukölln was opened in 1914, designed by Reinhold Kiehl and modelled after an ancient thermal bath. Despite renovations, the pool looks almost identical to how it did when it was built. Inspired by the style of Grecian temples, the stunning swimming area is lined with pillars, statues, and intricate tiling. Soak away your troubles in the presence of great architectural history—after all, a vacation doesn’t really start until the bathing suits are on.

Drink: Klunkerkranich

The Neukölln Arcaden is a pretty standard-looking mall, and as such its crowning jewel is a well concealed one. Take the elevator to the top floor, walk up the ramp of the parking garage, and enter Klunkerkranich: a sprawling rooftop bar with picnic tables, and even a sandbox. With gorgeous views of Berlin, Klunkerkranich is a great place to go with a group of friends to enjoy a beer and the sunset. Remember to raise glasses in a toast to the city—one teeming with culture, with contrasts of old and new, with memories made and more to be had.


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November 1, 2016