Berlin, Germany’s capital, dates to the 13th century. Reminders of the city’s turbulent 20th-century history include its Holocaust memorial and the Berlin Wall’s graffitied remains. Divided during the Cold War, its 18th-century Brandenburg Gate has become a symbol of reunification. The city’s also known for its art scene and modern landmarks like the gold-colored, swoop-roofed Berliner Philharmonie, built in 1963.
25 Hours Hotel Bikini Berlin
25hours launched its first budget hotel in Hamburg, at the entrance to the Otto von Bahren business park, following it with places in Frankfurt, Zürich and Vienna. The three-star establishment in Berlin is a wonderful, slightly whacky wonderland occupying the ten floors of a former office building overlooking the Bikinihaus (now the Bikini Berlin, a shopping centre and office building). It has been a great success, due in part to the Neni Berlin restaurant and the Monkey Bar , both perched on the panoramic top floor, which is accessible via a separate lift. The ground-floor lobby features an old Austin Mini Countryman placed there like a relic, alongside suspended bicycles. The reception is located on the third floor, also reached by its own lift. Like the rest of the building, everything here has been stripped down, scraped away and exposed, brought up to standard and left as is. Designer Werner Aisslinger, whose handiwork is also on show at the Michelberger Hotel, has devised such ingenious decorative features as wooden pallet walls overgrown with ivy; emptied hi-fi speakers turned into bookshelves; hammocks; and curtained work booths. The reception desk is tiled in turquoise, and there’s even a bakery, open daily to hotel guests and outsiders alike, as well as an inevitable little café. The rooms upstairs are also smart, fun and practical, and have large windows to maximize views (ask for a room on the zoo side for a slightly surreal experience). The rooms abound in surprising, amusing, yet practical decorative details. For breakfast, try the Bakery or the Neni .
Her name is Marie Le Febvre. She has a passion for flying and admits to an earlier life working for a major fragrance company. She is married to Alexander Urban – who has lent his name to her exclusive fragrance brand, produced in Grasse by the great Roudnitska. In 2015, she founded her laboratory of unique, exclusive fragrances in Berlin. She sells them in an art gallery – CavuSpace – where she blends special fragrances to go with the artist’s work on show, responding to the visual invitations and interpretations. Like Michel Granger and his India inks for Au Nom de la Terre and Pauline Bazignan for Vulcano. Future projects involve the Colombian artist Daniela Elorza and the illustrator François Cadière. Packed in a special box, each perfume bottle, inscribed by the artist, is available in a limited edition only. The main Urban Scents range comprises Gunpowder Cologne, Desert Rose, Singular Oud and Sensual Blend. Marie Le Febvre has also worked with the mixologist at the Ritz-Carlton, Arnd Henning Heissen, to create two cocktails inspired by her perfumes: Vetiver Reunion and Lost Paradise.
Chef Gal Ben Moshe shot to prominence at Glass, a curious restaurant tucked behind the Hotel am Steinplatz. Since then he’s risen to the rank of master-chef and joined forces with sommelier Jacqueline Lorenz to open Prism, a showcase for his talents. The understated interior by Berlin architect Patrick Batek is a composition in brown, grey, velvet, wood, copper and concrete. The cuisine is creative, hearty fare that draws from the melting pot of his Middle Eastern roots. On the Prism-Social menu on Monday and Thursday evenings, everything is for sharing and nibbling, Middle Eastern style. The wine recommendations of Fraulein Lorenz are highly recommended.
Designed by Hans Scharoun as the cultural core of West Berlin, built very close to the Wall in the midst of an urban no-man’s-land, the Philharmonie opened in 1963 to praise from the writer Max Frisch. Its 2,200 seats are arranged in a revolutionary design, laid out in a series of arcs, a layout since copied in dozens of concert halls across the world. Supplemented in 1987 with the addition of a smaller 1,200-seat auditorium, the Philharmonie is a source of great pride for Berliners. Its new chief conductor, following on from Sir Simon Rattle, is Kirill Petrenko. Another feature of the Philharmonie is its vast foyer, which features regular performances by leading musicians, as well as other Berlin ensembles such as the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra and Daniel Barenboim and his Staatskapelle Berlin. The best seats? All of them, of course.
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