Travel Review: Berlin, Germany
Whether you like history, culture, nightlife or all of the above, Berlin has it all. Sights such as the Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate, the remaining sections of the Berlin Wall, and many other tourist attractions don’t need much of an introduction.
The German capital is heaving with things to do, but the main draw for Berlin has to be experiencing the true history of Germany. Berlin was a divided city for almost 30 years – a city with a wall running through its very heart. From August 1961 until November 1989, the infamous Berlin Wall divided the city into East and West Berlin. Today, all across the city you can find traces of the Wall, its remains and various memorial sites – the East Side Gallery, the Berlin Wall Memorial in Bernauer Strasse, the Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial, a former Stasi remand prison, and the green Mauerpark. The route of the Wall is even marked along some of the city’s streets by a double row of cobblestones, so you can’t miss it.
With so much heritage, it’s no wonder Berlin is home to a bustling film industry. Besides major multiplexes screening the latest Hollywood movies, you’ll also find arthouse cinemas with discerning programmes and charming historic cinemas. As a moviegoer in Berlin, you’ll be spoilt for choice every day. In fact, Berlin is Europe’s main destination for films, stars, and glamour, and has been the set for many international blockbusters. If you’re lucky, you might sit down in a restaurant to find yourself side-by-side with A-list celebrities. There are also various film festivals throughout the year, highlighting particular genres, countries and directors. The biggest and most important film festival is the Berlinale in February. Since its inception in the ’50s, Berlin’s film festival has been one of the region’s major international festivals, alongside Cannes and Venice.
And glamorous film festivals mean stunning outfits, obviously. Whether you’re looking for international designer frocks, funky ideas in hip Berlin-style or simply a cheap and cheerful bargain, you’ll be sure to find just the thing in the city’s many shopping centres, department stores, small shops and high-end boutiques. If you’re strapped for time, the largest and most famous department store in Berlin is KaDeWe on Kurfürstendamm, where you can experience exclusive shopping over six floors. If you prefer something a bit more unusual, you can find second- hand and vintage stores throughout the city.
Feeling peckish? Despite an endless list of high-end restaurants, plump for authentic street food to get a taste of the real Berlin. Thanks to high-quality ingredients and exotic flavours, it’s impossible to imagine life in Berlin without street food. If you have no idea where to start, carnivores should try the currywurst or the döner kebab, which both originate in Berlin.
Last, but not least, our favourite thing about Berlin (and Germany in general) is its people. Friendliness in Europe can be a bit hit or miss (we’re looking at you, Paris), but overall the Germans are incredibly welcoming, and happy to give advice or directions to lost tourists. Before you know it, you’ll have a whole new group of German pals on your Facebook friends list.
WHERE TO STAY
Set in the heart of the historic Gendarmenmarkt Square, with metro stations and upscale stores a stone’s throw away, Regent Berlin is a classic hotel famous for its elegance and service. It has 156 beautiful guest rooms and nine luxurious suites. Depending upon the category, rooms come with gorgeous king-size beds, writing desks, private bars and flat- screen TVs. Expect to be pampered with fresh fruits, flowers, chocolates and a bottle of bubbly. Don’t leave before dressing up and hitting Berlin’s only two-Michelin-starred restaurant, Fischers Fritz. This supremely elegant restaurant – the Regent’s pride and joy – serves French-inspired seafood. We suggest nibbling on the eel with apple and horseradish to start o your meal. Afterwards, relax at the Regent Bar and watch Berlin’s stylish set come together over strikingly unusual mixed drinks. INFO: regenthotels.com/berlin
Hotel de Rome
Hotel de Rome is perfect for a stayin the heart of Berlin. It’s located on Bebelplatz, o Unter den Linden, which is close to the shopping centres and all the sights. It is a conversion of an existing building constructed in 1889 by architect Ludwig Heim (appointed master builder of the government), which housed the head o ice of Dresdner Bank until 1945. This is one of the few luxury hotels in Berlin located in an original building making use of its full architectural splendour, and thereby offering guests an authentic Berlin experience. The bank-vault spa is a must-see! INFO: roccofortehotels.com/hotels- and-resorts/hotel-de-rome/
Ellington Hotel Berlin
If you’re looking for bright and spacious accommodation with high ceilings and a central location, it doesn’t get better than the iconic Ellington. Even the address is a classic, Nürnberger Straße 50-55. Everybody who was anybody in Berlin in the Twenties and Thirties danced here when it was home to the most fashionable jazz club in the city. In the Seventies the address eventually stood for the in-discotheque Dschungel, where stars such as Frank Zappa, David Bowie, Carlos Santana, Iggy Pop and Barbra Streisand partied the night away.
These days, the building, constructed in the New Objectivity architectural style, has been refurbished into a stunning design hotel, but retains hints of the glitz and glamour of its past. By themselves, the travertine-clad façade, the striking brass frames of the high windows, the oriel windows and the horizontally drawn lines along the extraordinary frontispiece make the hotel a real eye catcher. And many features that are reminiscent of the Golden Twenties have been retained in the interior. For instance, the original foyer with the high glass doors framed in brass still exists in parts.
The design hotel has a total of 285 rooms, each of which o ers a light and modern interior. The en suite bathroom integrated in the living room is definitely a highlight. The two Tower Suites, covering nearly 50 square metres apiece, o er unique views of Kurfürstendamm and the Gedächtniskirche. Whether you’re travelling alone, with a partner or the entire family, Ellington has a variety of room and suite options to keep you comfortable and cosy in the very heart of Berlin. INFO: ellington-hotel.com