Berlin can feel a little intimidating for a first-time visitor. Firstly, there’s its reputation as the European capital of cool. Then there are countless galleries, design-led boutiques and world famous cutting-edge nightclubs to explore. There’s also more history packed into this place than even the biggest textbook. So where to start? The travel website IMBARC has just teamed up with the concierge service Quintessentially to plan a weekend break that will show you the real Berlin. Staying up all night optional.
Sites viewed over heritage bike tours, Courtesy of Imbarc
I check into my base in town, the hotel Das Stue. This impressively grand building used to be the Danish embassy, and has been transformed into exactly how you’d want your home to look by interiors doyenne Patricia Urquiola. The rooms are just as chic and light-filled as the lobby, and best of all my suite looks out on to the Berlin zoo, so you can watch gazelles while you have a shower. Forget a room with a view, this is a room with a zoo.I head straight for lunch at Type Hype. This concept store and cafe is based in an old printer’s office, and over a frittata and latte, I watch the world go by from the window. After picking up a beautiful hand-printed postcard, I make my way to Boros Bunker. This WW2 shelter became a banana-storage facility, then a techno club and it now houses Christian and Karen Boros’ contemporary art collection. This might be one of Berlin’s best-kept secrets - even local friends haven’t had a chance to visit it yet - and it requires setting up a private tour. But it’s easily the most unique spot in the city to get your culture fix.
I then wander through the hip district of Kreuzberg - full of achingly-cool coffee shops, art galleries and bookshops - and squeeze in a quick sauna back at the hotel before dinner. Borchardt is a Berlin institution - famous since 1895 for its schnitzel - and is the epitome of old-school glamour. Think white linen tablecloths and waiters in tuxedos. Obviously I have to sample the wiener schnitzel. When in Berlin...
Breakfast destination in the Kreuzberg district, Courtesy of Imbarc
The next morning I hop on the metro to breakfast at Roamers. This rustic cafe is full of plants and posters and serves hearty breakfasts on wooden boards, plus on-trend drinks like charcoal lattes. From here I take a stroll through town to TV tower, where I meet my Fat Tire bike tour guide. These group bike tours avoid the tourist traps and take you on a whistlestop adventure through the city’s greatest hits. Plus, because they’re beach cruiser bikes they’re super easy to ride - so you can focus on snapping the sights, such as the Berlin wall and the Reichstag.
After all that exertion, and via lunch at Hallesches Haus (another cool concept store serving snacks on boards) it’s time for some pampering. Liquidrom is a futuristic spa where in-the-know Berliners spend their weekends chilling out. With salt-water pools, numerous saunas and underwater music this is a great way to round off the weekend. Auf Wiedersehen, Berlin.
Visit imbarc.co.uk for more details