Berlin is rich in culture and history. If you want to discover the real city the hipster way, you’ll need to avoid the tourist traps and explore the lesser known gems hiding in its streets.
You will want to stay in a boutique hotel for your vacation. Check out the Cosmo hotel. Centrally located not far from the landmark Unter den Linden, this luxurious hotel has a very contemporary feel. There is an U-bahn station directly opposite, giving you free reign throughout the city.
Lux 11 hotel
Alternatively, Lux 11 is very well located in Mitte. Refurbished in 2005, it combines modern design with a rich history, being in an old Stasi building. The hotel sports a fully equipped gym as well as a roof-deck with stunning views. If you book through the hotel’s website, you are given the option of upgrading at a discount if the rooms are available, which is well worth taking advantage of.
Shopping in Berlin
There is a wide range of second hand and vintage clothes shops, perfect for the hipster shopper. Garments on Linienstrasse is beautifully laid out, with clothes arranged by colour and mood – look out for the sequins section. Directly opposite Lux 11 is Alex Vintage, a fantastic boutique, easily overlooked if you do not know it’s there. From the outside it is unassuming, but if you dare to enter the basement, you’ll find yourself in a veritable treasure trove of vintage clothing and accessories. There’s a very Californian feel to this trendy store, which recently added 80s and 90s sections to complement their 60s and 70s collections.
If you want something really different, visit Fantasiakulisse on Flughafenstrasse. Almost more of a museum than a shop, it contains a vast array of vintage film and theatre props, posters and odds and ends from the movies. Some of the items were used in major German films and if you want to haggle, the owner has sentimental attachment to certain pieces, which pushes the prices up.
Each December, Christmas Markets pop up all over Berlin, providing a festive atmosphere and German delicacies to sample. You can find out more about these markets in my post on Christmas Markets in Berlin.
Neukölln is currently the city’s trendiest area. It is in a constant state of flux, updating so quickly that a search on Google maps may not reflect the current location of shops, restaurants and bars. If you decide to check out the local eateries, be aware that most aren’t open for breakfast; however, Pappelreihe on Kienitzerstrasse serves sumptuous food in the morning, dished up to the sounds of a low key reggae soundtrack.
Alternatively, Berlin Burger International on Pannierstrasse has been setting food blogs alight with its simple but tasty menu. There is no indoor seating and outdoor accommodation is limited, but the food is well worth the inconvenience.
Out for the night
Neukölln also has a lot to offer the hipster for a night on the town. Start your evening in one of the laid back bars in the Schillerkiez and then head on down to the buzz of Weserstrasse.
Art und Weise on Leinestrasse rocks the shabby chic look with its eclectic furniture and dingy, intimate lighting. Although it only has three small rooms, the bar boasts regular film nights, live music and art exhibitions. If you fancy the possibility of rubbing shoulders with famous musicians, Mogwai’s Barry Burns and his wife are behind Das Gift on Donaustrasse. They refurbished the bar a couple of years ago, which features Scottish whiskies and beers. The bar is often the venue for after-parties for touring bands and DJs regularly play there.
If you want to see the other side of this city and experience it the way Berliners do, use this guide to Berlin, stay away from the traditional tourist locations and go off the beaten track. You won’t regret it.