While I normally love or hate a city right away, and that opinion usually unwavers, Berlin was another story. It was a slow-burn kind of love, one that hit me, hard, on exactly the third visit.
Much like with any big city, you really have to know where to go, but once you do, like me, you'll realize that Berlin has the grit of New York, the gluten-free goods of LA, all with a sensible German undercurrent and unique history that make its vibe completely singular. Here are my favourite places in Berlin...
I stayed at the Pullman which is in West Berlin near the zoo and Tiergarten, but more importantly, it's a five-minute walk to one of my restaurants NENI (see below). It's modern and has everything you'd expect from a five-star.
Budapester Str. 25, 10787 - Berlin
Berlin's vegan scene is major, and no healthy eating place is more major than Daluma. Plus, if you're not vegan and need a bit of protein, you can add seared sashimi to any of the bowls. The ambience is dreamy and they have a ton of cold-pressed juices and healthy desserts. A place you can linger for hours.
Weinbergsweg 3, 10119 - Berlin - Mitte
NEW DELI YOGA
I met a friend here in East Berlin for brunch - it's vegan, but very tasty. Order the Full Deli Breakfast. Come for the food and stay for the yoga classes.
Falckensteinstraße 37, 10997 - Berlin
This is hands-down my favorite place in all of Berlin. This new-Jerusalem-style restaurant was founded by an Israeli family and now has outposts in Hamburg, Munich, Zurich, Vienna and Tel Aviv. The Berlin location has an incredible rooftop location with a view of Tiergarten, some of Berlin's skyline and there's the adjacent Monkey Bar for the best sunset drinks outside. I always have the Korean Fried Chicken Salad (there are some global additions), but hummus too of course.
(At the 25hours Hotel Bikini Berlin) Budapester Straße 40 10787 - Berlin
My friend Georg Mallner, a Berlin-based blogger and fellow Leo who shares my general love of all things opulent, brought me here as he knew I would live. And live I did. Everything from the food to the interiors is top-notch and also exudes a sense of heritage. It's set in a former Jewish Girls' School and with the many period details, you can really imagine what it must have been like some time ago.
Auguststrasse 11 - 13, 10117 - Berlin
Don't be fooled by the 'bar' in the name - the food here is out of hand. It's the ubiquitous sharing-plate concept, which usually I'm not a fan of as there's so much hit-and-miss, and I hate sharing the hits, but literally everything we ordered here was. I had to order some of the tartars twice.
Torstraße 183, 10115 - Berlin
A restaurant, bar and lounge in one, Bar Tausend has the edge you'd want to experience in Berlin, without the grime. It's a West Berlin take on...Berlin. Good beats and some mainstream music as well.
Schiffbauerdamm 11, 10117 - Berlin
Even though I generally avoid sugar like the plague, when it's worth it, I go all in. Honestly, this is the best cheesecake outside of New York. (Forgive me) it may just be the best cheesecake ever. There are so many caramel-ly options. It took a lot of restraint not to go every day, but just once as a treat.
Tucholskystrasse 37, 10117 - Berlin
Trying out different boutique places to work out around the world is sort of like a passion of mine, if you will. And even though I was on a tight work schedule in Berlin, as a spinning enthusiast, I had to try BeCycle. Frankly, there aren't many slick/modern places to workout in in Germany, so BeCycle really stood out. It's a beautiful space. Marble, brass, natural light, a small shop for workout gear, and a healthy eating place complete with protein balls, cold-pressed juice et al adjacent. Everyone speaks English, some of the instructors are American (adding to the international feel of the city), and the founder, Gundula, is the nicest.
Brunnenstrasse 24 - 10119 Berlin
So so unassuming, but this luxury fashion consignment shop I stumbled into is a gem. Lots of current pieces or styles from the last several seasons. I had no intention of shopping but walked out with three things.
Linienstraße 153, 10115 - Berlin
This industrial-chic pool complex in Friedrichshain in East Berlin is perhaps the most unexpected thing about the city. If you go in the summer months, you must go here for an afternoon. It's tropical yet urban, has ample poolside lounging space and of course, those Berlin beats.
Revaler Str. 99, 10245 - Berlin
Lastly, and as a convenience-loving credit-card carrier, this is the one that I don't like about Berlin - you must carry cash. You need it almost everywhere as they have yet to implement international payment systems everywhere. Apart from this, Berlin is always a good time.