Saturday, 14 May 2011

Red-Hot Berlin

Hotel Amano

Since its debut in 2009, the Amano has become Mitte’s most successful new boutique hotel. The rooms are appealingly simple, the lobby is a lively meeting place for locals, and the bar and rooftop lounge have become undisputed hot spots. Ester Bruzkus, who did the interior design, credits the owners for opening their pocketbooks to get the right look: “It was the first time working in Mitte where I got to use whatever brands I wanted—Artemide, Gervasoni, Zeitraum.” Rates from around $130/night;

KW Institute

Founded in the early 1990s, this pioneering contemporary-art center mounts avant-garde exhibitions of rising or unjustly overlooked names. Pictured is a recent installation by Polish artist Paulina Olowska.

Bandol Sur Mer

The insiders’ pick for Mitte’s best restaurant is this intimate French bistro housed in a former kebab joint. With only seven tables, booking ahead is crucial. The menu, displayed on giant blackboards, is authentic French: fish soup, escargots, veal tartare. 011-49-30-67-30-20-51

Lunettes Selection

This tiny boutique on Torstrasse has garnered a reputation among stylesetters for its stock of rare, unworn vintage eyewear. Now, proprietor Uta Geyer has debuted her own collection inspired by the best designs of the last century— dashing and romantic frames that bring to mind Berlin’s bohemian past.

Soho House

Last year this outpost of the London members-only club opened in a former Communist-party archive. The tongue-in-cheek country-house decor, playful atmosphere (ping-pong in the lobby), and rooftop pool have quickly found favor with well-heeled Berliners—and the rooms, also available to nonmembers, are the most comfortable in Mitte. Rates from around $170/night;


Mitte’s boîte of the moment is found hidden under a railway bridge. Dress the part and you’ll get past the doorman and into a tunnel-like cocktail lounge plated with mirrors and lit by a jet-engine-shaped lamp at one end. There’s a DJ, an extensive cocktail menu, and a backroom cantina for those who like to fuel up before dancing all night.

Neues Museum

Museum Island can feel overcrowded with tourists, but you should make time to see this 19th-century museum devoted to ancient treasures and artifacts (including an iconic bust of Nefertiti). Reduced to a near-ruin by wartime bombing, the building has only recently reopened, thanks to a stunning and meticulous renovation by British architect David Chipperfield.

The Barn

It doesn’t get any more cheerful and relaxed than this new locavore café with its micro-roasted coffee and tasty artisanal sandwiches. It’s the perfect place to recharge while gallery-hopping along Auguststrasse, just steps away. A recommendation: the carrot cake. “It’s from my mother’s recipe book,” says the friendly owner, Ralf Rüller (pictured).

Sprüth Magers

Mitte teems with galleries, from newcomers like Peres Projects to established spaces such as Neugerriemschneider and Sprüth Magers. Put the latter, housed in an 18th-century social club, at the top of your list, given its generous exhibition rooms and star-filled roster, which includes Richard Prince, Andreas Gursky, and Louise Lawler (2009 installation shown).
Photo: Jens Ziehe
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Casa Camper

The Spanish shoe company’s new hotel has a chic-functional aesthetic and an inside-out façade (the room numbers are displayed to the street on exterior translucent shades). The interior design is spare but considerate, with Shaker pegs along the bright red walls of the rooms, hanging lamps, and ample bathrooms illuminated by enormous windows. The top-floor lounge and terrace with food and drink available 24 hours is a thoughtful touch for the just-arrived and jet-lagged. Rates from around $230/night;

Dos Palillos

Casa Camper tapped Albert Raurich, former head chef at Spain’s temple of gastronomy El Bulli, to helm its new ground-floor restaurant—the most talked about in Mitte. Take a seat at the gleaming white dining bar fronting the open kitchen and try not to be intimidated by the menu, which offers a choice of 12 or 16 courses. The pan-Asian tapas-inspired dishes, from pickled cucumber to egg soup to Cantonese-style pork, are delicately flavored and well paced while the cool, sleek space, designed by Paris-based siblings Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, makes you want to linger.

Me Collectors Room

This new art venue on gallery-packed Auguststrasse comes courtesy of Thomas Olbricht, a physician with an extensive collection of works by major contemporary artists—John Currin, Gerhard Richter, Cindy Sherman—as well as Renaissance and Baroque objets. The latter form the site’s permanent collection, “Wunderkammer,” while temporary exhibitions aim to challenge and titillate (“X-Rated,” pictured, runs through May 8; a show devoted to cannibalism opens May 29).

Lala Berlin

Mulackstrasse is Mitte’s best and most intimate shopping street, and Leyla Piedayesh’s Lala Berlin is its go-to centerpiece. Eight years ago the designer quit her job with MTV to create a line of luxurious cashmere scarves (still Piedayesh’s signature) and has since expanded her line to include gossamer silk dresses, tailored jackets, and a new shoe collaboration with Unützer.

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