Does any European city divide opinion more than Berlin?

Travel Spotlight

Out: BA0986 A321
Back: BA0987 A321

Rimowa Salsa Air cabin case

Taxi’s via Uber

Total travel time 2 hours from London

Very cold, 0c
December 2015

Ever since the fall of the wall, Berlin has been establishing itself as one of the hippest cities in Europe, now offering full access to the old ‘East’ side of the capital. Centrally located, Berlin has two efficient airports, with a long-awaited and much-delayed brand new hub due 2018.

Whilst Summer is the best time to visit the city, it really is a great pace to go anytime of year. We travelled in December and it was cold, be assured of that. During the Summer period, Berliners like to visit pop-up swimming pools and even a beach in the centre of the city. It’s a vibrant city, but with a cold stark concrete image.

There are many great places to stay in in Berlin, with two standouts destinations in Gorki Apartments and Das Stue. Set in a residential building in the central Mitte district, which only a few years ago was locked away in the ‘East’ part of the city, Gorki is surrounded by lakes and forests and filled with rivers and canals. The Gorki serviced apartments are all independently-styled, each one unique in design, approach and furnishing.

Every Gorki apartment has a different name, with a 19th century influence. Most of the rooms have a stocked kitchen and you can still call down to the front desk to order any necessities you might require during your stay (although you need to go elsewhere for breakfast and we found most of the better cafes didn’t open early on a weekend). The rooms all supplied with dining areas and stunning bathrooms, with some including a huge designer bathtub. There is also two penthouse rooms with a rooftop terrace if you’re feeling extravagant. We found Gorki to be excellent value-for-money.

A short walk from Gorki, we found The Barn, a popular coffee roasters, set in what they describe as a ‘rustic’ building. Serving excellent coffee with beans they roasted themselves, it became our go-to destination for a quick coffee during our stay. Better still, it’s only a short walk to the Brandenburg Gate from this location, so a good starting point for a day in the city seeing the sights.

A completely different, but equally as stunning, hotel is the Das Stue. Set right in the famous Tiergarten and the Berlin Zoo, this five-star hotel is in the old Danish Embassy. The aura hits you immediately as you enter through the lobby, walking past various artwork including a huge bronze crocodile sculpture. The restaurant, just off the lobby, has bronze pans hanging from the ceiling and the bar, with lounge, with a heated tent with wooden furniture and Scandiavian-style woolen blankets, although we did find that smokers tended to use this tent as their destination.

The Das Stue rooms are modern and extremely well-presented, and the majority have a an amazing view of the zoo, where you’ll have animals walking around their enclosures! It’s interesting to wake up on a morning and open your curtains to wild animals underneath your window. The hotel also includes with a spa and a 16m indoor heated pool and sauna so you can swim, exercise and relax during your stay.

As you’d expect, there is plenty of great eateries in Berlin. However, one standout place is Volt in the hip Kreuzberg area of town. Housed in an old power station from the early 20th century, clad in copper and plenty of exposed brick. You can either chose to go a la carte or go for the set tasting menu of small gourmet dishes which are also paired with their choice of wine. The dishes are unique and depending on when you go you’ll get different menus, but expect something different such as the guinea fowl we were served.

As we were staying by the Tiergarten, despite the cold, we had to walk around and enjoy what Berlin’s largest park had to offer, this includes ice skating during the winter but there are also lakes where you can rent boats and row around feeding the ducks. This was also a great place to take in an early morning run in the fresh and cold air.

Finally, another great place to visit is Kurfurstendamm, which is Berlin’s longest and most famous retail avenue. The upmarket area has all the stores you’d expect including one of our favourites Woolrich, which stocks high quality and stylish clothing perfect for the Berlin winter! While around Kurfurstenamm another great place to visit is the Wintergarten Café, which is a library that hosts reading sessions and exhibits in a historic villa. They have a bookshop and the café is on the top floor and we enjoyed a fantastic brunch including indulgent waffles with fresh berries and cream!

After this, sadly it was a walk back to Das Stue, to pack our bags for the flight home. Whilst on the way back, we stumbled across Hotel Zoo and were offered a brief look around. From this quick peek, we’d say this is a hotel we’d pick on our return, next time we return to this fantastic city.

Have you been to Berlin? What do you think of the city? We’d love to hear your feedback, so let us know in the comments section below.


About Author

Alex is a keen fitness and nutrition enthusiast, residing in the US, and contributes to travel, fitness and nutrition tips, news and other interesting tidbits.