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Berlin is a city full of contradictions. Remnants of a war-torn past clash with western modernity; German hipsters and immigrants convene in public parks to play games of soccer; and a multicultural outdoor space, complete with beach bar and sand, serves up jerk chicken. Amidst all these differences is the real beauty of the city; it’s an environment where anything is possible and everything collides. If clients are heading to Berlin for the first time, here are a few suggestions for them to get the most out of this cosmopolitan city.
MorningIn the heart of West Berlin, Swissotel Berlin is the ideal hotel to freshen up for the day and prepare to explore the city. The property offers a view of Kurfurstendamm shopping avenue and modern accommodations that will cure even the worst jet-lag blues. Check out the original artwork by renowned German artist Marcus Lupertz, then head to Restaurant 44 for modern Swiss cuisine.
AfternoonJust a 15-minute walk from the hotel awaits Kurfurstendamm, Berlin’s most popular shopping boulevard. Built in 1542, it’s decorated with shops, hotels and restaurants for every type of traveler.
After a little retail therapy, travelers can get inspired by a calmer side of city life. Just a 20-minute walk from Kurfurstendamm is a green haven: Tiergarten Park. There are more than 2,500 parks in Berlin, but this one is truly a world unto itself, and the largest in the city. Nearby is Das Stue, one of Berlin’s most stunning and intimate hotels. Tourists can have a drink at the bar or lunch at The Casual by chef Paco Perez. Inventive tapas in a serene garden lounge are a perfect midday treat.
Also in walking distance is iconic landmark Brandenburg Gate. Some of the country’s most historical speeches have been delivered under the 18th-century arch. Located in front of the gate is Unter den Linden (“under the trees”), a boulevard perfect for people-watching.
EveningAfter a busy first day, it’s time to eat — but not just any meal. Suggest clients make a reservation at Tim Raue. Opinionated, passionate and inspired by Asian culture, chef Tim Raue opened the acclaimed, Michelin-starred restaurant in 2014. The experience is a delight to watch as much as it is to taste. The depth of flavor in each dish is unparalleled — turbot fish is steamed with decade-aged soy sauce; boiled asparagus is paired with butter, green Thai chili, coriander cream and coconut mango. The sommelier provides tastings that complement even the most robust flavors. This is a Berlin culinary experience that should not be missed.
MorningMix the best of historical Berlin with local flair. Sightseers should start the day at Museum Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to five of the city’s greatest museums. They can get lost in stunning architecture and artifacts from ancient civilizations.
AfternoonCocolo Ramen sits on a narrow street in the hip neighborhood of Kreuzberg. Visitors can sit at the bar and watch noodle craftsmanship at work. I recommend the lunch special, which includes miso soup, ginger tea with lemon and a stellar bowl of ramen.
Berlin’s complex history is one tinged with change and liberation. Travelers should visit the historical East Side Gallery, a 1.3 km section of the Berlin Wall. Painted with images by artists from 21 countries, it is the longest open-air gallery in the world.
Clients should keep walking along the East Side Gallery, where they will reach YAAM (Young African Art Market), a local favorite and a symbol of multicultural Berlin. The outdoor space is home to everything from Jamaican jerk chicken to live concerts. There is even a beach bar, complete with sand. Visitors can easily spend a day chilling out here, or they can head to Gorlitzer Park, another nearby communal space, where locals convene to barbecue, play soccer and drink wine.
EveningInside Gorlitzer Park, some of the best jazz music in Berlin can be found upstairs in Das Edelweiss bar. A jam session with many American expats draws groups of people on Tuesdays. Music lovers should not miss the vibe here; it’s full of craftsmanship and good energy. For a late-night snack after a night out, try curry bratwurst or doner kebab, a tried-and-true, affordable street-food favorite. My top picks: Mustafa’s Gemuse Kebap and Curry 36.
Air Berlin offers nonstop flights from major cities, including New York, Los Angeles and Miami. Its business class is ideal for comfort and amenities on transatlantic flights.
Cocolo Ramen www.kuchi.de
Tim Raue www.tim-raue.com/en