City Guide

Four hours in Berlin 2015

29 Apr 2015 by Jenny Southan

1 - Sammlung Boros

Sammlung Boros, Reinhardtstraße, Berlin, Germany

Second World War history is evident in much of Berlin, but if you have seen all the major sites, begin your tour at this unusual private contemporary art gallery inside a listed air raid shelter. (You need to book visits, which are all guided, online in advance.)

After the war, the bunker was used as a textile warehouse and a place for storing tropical fruit. When the government took it over in the early nineties, it became known as “the hardest nightclub in the world” for its hardcore fetish parties and techno music.

In 2003, German entrepreneur and art collector Christian Boros bought the building. It was opened to the public in 2008, and inside you will find thought-provoking installations, photography and painting by the likes of Ai Weiwei, Wolfgang Tillmans and Sarah Lucas. My favourite was Michael Sailstorfer’s popcorn cart, which has been slowly popping kernels for the past two and a half years. Open Thurs 3pm-8pm, Fri 10am-8pm, Sat-Sun 10am-6pm; €12. Reinhardstrasse 20; sammlung-boros.de

2 - Tiergarten

Tiergarten, Germany

From the bunker, walk down Albrechtstrasse, right along Schiffbauerdamm beside the River Spree, over Marschallbrucke bridge and right to the Brandenburg Gate. From here, you can take a stroll through the leafy Tiergarten, taking in German parliament building the Reichstag en route.

Covering more than 200 hectares, this huge park is a beautiful place to go for a run, relax in the sun or ride a bike. (Nearby hotels Das Stue and 25 Hours Bikini offer free cycle hire for guests.)

If you are in need of refreshment, stop by Café am Neuen See, which has an expansive wooden deck by a boating lake. In the summer, everyone is out here sitting on benches eating pizza and drinking beer, while in winter, you can snuggle up by a wood burner with a cup of mulled wine, or even ice skate on the lake if conditions allow. Open daily from dawn until dusk. cafeamneuensee.de

3 - Das Stue

Das Stue, Drakestraße, Berlin, Germany

Located on the south side of the Tiergarten, this elegant five-star boutique property occupies the former Danish embassy, which dates back to the 1930s.

A Design Hotels member, it’s a stylish place to stay (there are 78 rooms with Apple computers) but if you are based elsewhere, stop by for a bite to eat. Casual by Catalan chef Paco Perez serves delicious modern tapas and sharing platters. For dinner, his Michelin-starred Cinco specialises in multi-course molecular gastronomy with a Spanish-Japanese twist. Drakestrasse 1; tel +49 303 117 220; das-stue.com

4 - Bikini Berlin

Bikini Berlin, Budapester Straße, Berlin, Germany

A ten-minute walk from Das Stue is Berlin’s first concept mall, for “a discerning, trend and style-conscious international audience”. It’s one of several developments that are elevating City West, with the revamped Zoo Palast cinema and Waldorf Astoria also having opened in recent years.

The renovated three-floor 1950s retail building has dozens of boutiques selling everything from onesies and art books to custom trainers and clothes for dogs. There is also a 7,000 sqm rooftop plaza with views of monkeys in the nearby zoo, and welcoming spots to relax with a coffee. They serve a good latte at the café in the Gestalten Pavilion, which stocks an inspiring array of high-design homeware, stationery and fashion accessories from brands such as Aesop, Pendleton, Sandqvist and Tom Dixon.

Other shops worth checking out are Mykita for locally made luxury eyewear, Tailor and Tales for made-to-measure clothes, and Vitra and Artek for Scandi furniture and lifestyle essentials. Open daily 10am-8pm; Budpesterstrasse 38-50; bikiniberlin.de

5 - Monkey Bar

Monkey Bar, Budapester Straße, Berlin, Germany

Next to the mall, and also unveiled last year, is the 25 Hours Bikini hotel. Part of Germany’s 25 Hours chain – which also has properties in Hamburg, Frankfurt, Vienna and Zurich – Bikini Berlin’s top floor features Middle Eastern restaurant Neni to one side and Monkey Bar to the other.

The latter is always buzzing with hip Berliners who come to hang out on its roof terrace and enjoy a drink while looking down on Berlin Zoo’s ape enclosure. There are steps scattered with Turkish cushions beside the floor-to-ceiling windows, allowing everyone a good vantage point of the city.

The bar serves German-made Fritz-Kola, which contains natural caffeine, real cola nuts and natural flavours, as well as almost 50 different types of rum and gin. Tempting cocktails include the Pineapple Mezcal Cooler (€12.50) or intriguingly named Don the Beachcomber Mai Tai (€12.50), both perfect sundowners. Open 12pm-1am Sun-Thurs, until 2am Fri-Sat. Budpesterstrasse 40; tel +49 301 2022 1210; 25hours-hotels.com

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