Rome is generally known for its ancient monuments such as the Colosseum, Castel Sant Angelo and the Imperial Fora, and is less famous for its nightlife. Nevertheless, Continue reading
Compared to other Western capitals such as London, New York and Paris, which are pretty much as synonymous with astronomical rents, social cleansing and insta-hipster blandness as they are with their respective iconic landmarks, Berlin still manages to retain its essence as a city where normal people can actually live. This is largely due to the unusual and genuinely cutting-edge lifestyle it offers, which deserves to be preserved at all costs.
However, change is in the air. With Berlin rapidly becoming Continue reading
Given that one of Berlin’s main draws as a destination for both tourists and residents is its relaxed pace of life and almost unfathomable capacity for fun, it should come as no surprise that the city is home to some of the best watering holes in the world.
However, despite being the capital of Germany — the land famous for cosy cellars serving up alarmingly large steins of Bavarian beer alongside gut-busting portions of sausage — you’ll find none of that in this city (except for overpriced tourist traps designed to trick the uninitiated travellers searching for an ‘authentic’ German experience).
Alternatively, Berlin’s unique history and position as a subcultural citadel and hipster paradise mean that there is an endless variety of cool, exciting and cheap places to drink the night (and following day) away, whatever your tastes/budget/identity. With that in mind, please enjoy this highly subjective guide to the best bars the city has to offer.
Barbie Deinhoff’s (Kreuzberg)
It seems logical to start with my all-time favourite bar in the world, a place that I have frequented so much in the past year that the fact the staff haven’t begun charging me rent is a testament to their sweet nature. I could easily fill several articles’ worth of space simply composing a long overdue love letter to the place where I’ve had some of the most memorable (and forgettable) nights of my life, but I’ll leave it at “I love this bar”. A tiny establishment on the always-buzzing Schlesisches Str., I was first drawn in by the warm glow of the pink neon lights which never switch off, as well as the faint sound of electronica and disco from the excellently-curated playlist (everyone pays €1 to the DJ). Inside you’ll find a cosy space crammed with overstuffed sofas and garden furniture, the walls adorned with cute and sexy works from local artists which are often available for purchase, as well as an eclectic crowd of both tourists and locals.
Whilst it would be difficult to describe the vibe of this legendary gay bar, a patron once aptly summarised it to me as “a working man’s pub for drag queens on their down time”, and I think that does it justice. Whilst the music and crowd are good reasons to come, the real reason to stay is the drinks prices. With cocktails costing €5 and a large glass of wine costing €3 on a normal night, if you show up for their weekly “Tu-Tu Tuesday” then all drinks are two for one, meaning that you can (and will) get hammered for under €10. It is therefore (I hope) entirely understandable that whenever my friends want to hang out on a Tuesday evening, they know to just head down to Barbie’s and they’ll be sure to see me in my usual spot.
Bei Schlawinchen (Neukölln) Continue reading
The night train breezed into Berlin Hauptbahnhof, delivering us from Sweden sunburnt, barely awake and in desperate need of a shower. Realising we had to wait ninety minutes until the tourist information centre opened, we hauled ourselves and our laden backpacks outside, longing for a burst of fresh air. We were met by a wall of heat and blinding sunlight searing down on us, aggravating the beetroot skin on our backs. It was 6am and 30˚C.
The sun bathed a warm glow over every structure, obliterating shadows and creating an almost eerie light which watered-down the horizon, blurring buildings into one another until the skyline looked like a vast, molten watercolour. We were in awe of the intensity of the heat for that time in the morning, expecting the gentle, milky Swedish sun and delicate, crisp chill in the air that we’d become accustomed to.
After manically abusing some free Wi-Fi we found a hotel online, headed west and sampled our first real taste of Berlin on the famous Kurfürstendamm. We headed to the first likely-looking bar, ‘Graffiti’. Sitting under the awning sipping iced tea and tucking into ice cream, we almost forgot we couldn’t check in to our hotel for another two hours, had seven blisters between us and bags under our eyes big enough to accommodate a good few Euros worth of duty free.
If you’ve spent any time in Berlin, or have even so much as Googled the place, then you’ll know that techno music and world-class nightclubs run deep through the veins of this popular party city. Even if you aren’t a fan of electronic music, you’re still pretty much guaranteed an unforgettable time should you choose to rave the night (and following day) away at any one of Berlin’s jaw-dropping and outlandishly-decorated party venues. Note: clubs in Berlin often open Friday night and seldom close before Sunday afternoon! Anyone who is even vaguely familiar with Berlin’s stratospheric rise to nightlife capital of the world will of course be aware of notorious superclub Berghain. This impregnable pleasure palace is a titan of the electronic music scene, housed inside a former power plant in the rapidly-gentrifying Friedrichshain neighbourhood.
Unfortunately, the club’s reputation as a byword for unbridled hedonism is somewhat overshadowed by its famously brutal door policy. The long queue of taxis waiting outside the club at all hours to take home rejected revellers is a testament to the highly discerning tastes of Sven Marquadt, the long-time gatekeeper of the club. So let’s face it, you probably won’t get into Berghain, regardless of how cool you think you’ve dressed and the fact that you’re willing to queue in the rain for three hours on a Saturday night to get in. Don’t worry though, you certainly aren’t alone in that department, and legend has it that even Britney Spears was denied entry by Sven himself back in 2004.
However, what this certainly doesn’t mean is that you should simply call it a night or, even worse, head to Matrix (a cheesy, backpackers’ paradise synonymous with bad music and an even worse crowd). Instead, you should start by consulting this brief guide on some of the other amazing clubs in Berlin, all boasting bone-shattering sound systems, top DJs every week, an achingly-hip clientele, and plenty of that eagerly permissive atmosphere you just can’t get at home. So go ahead, drop your plans, drop a few names, even drop your pants, and as always, viel spaß!