1. Where to Stay
Order a glass of Gewürztraminer on the open-air roof deck at Hotel de Rome (from $576), a bank turned Rocco Forte hotel in hip Mitte. Ask the front desk to loan you a red fleece shawl. Rooms boast Bauhaus décor, oversize windows, and mosaic tiling in the bathroom. Book yours overlooking the Bebelplatz; the former Nazi book-burning site is now filled with vendors peddling them secondhand.
Get all of your sight-seeing done from Mandala Suites (from $307), a quick walk from the Potsdamerplatz, Sir Norman Foster’s Reichstag, the Brandenburg Gate, and Holocaust memorial. The svelte, 130-square-foot studios have big marble bathrooms, balconies, walk-in closets, and kitchens. Take breakfast at the modern-Italian vista lounge on the eighth floor; then burn it off at the adjoining yoga space or TechnoGym—less Sprockets than it sounds.
Embrace capitalism at the glitzy rooftop casino of the Park Inn (from $215), a 1,012-room hotel centrally located in former East Berlin. All rooms are priced similarly, but request a renovated one for wraparound balcony vistas of the Alexanderplatz and the Fernsehturm, the city’s iconic, space-age TV tower.
2. Where to Eat
Ride a panoramic glass elevator clinging to a high-rise up to Solar, a seventeenth-floor restaurant and lounge with 360-degree views. Have a drink with the pre-clubbers on a swinging love seat in the D.J. lounge, then eat crispy herbed Wiener schnitzel ($27), garlicky veal meatballs ($26), and lamb tenderloins with saffron dumplings ($28) in the sunken dining room.
Rub elbows with foreign dignitaries at Hugo’s, a Michelin-starred eatery atop the fourteen-story “Interconti” business hotel. There are three private dining rooms, but the main one has the best views. Eavesdrop on diplomats over a bowl of brandied-milk ice cream.
Get eats to go at KeDeWe department store’s Gourmet Floor. The sixth-floor market has a meat section devoted to most countries in Europe and every region in Germany, plus aisles of rarities like flaky Lenôtre breads and pastries ($4.60), Rothbuch honey ($10.76), Hédiard preserves ($8), and 1,200 varieties of wurst.
3. What to Do
Look for the giant, glowing Mercedes Benz logo perched atop the Europa Center. Start your evening there at the sleek Puro SkyLounge, which just opened last spring. The candlelit corners and sunken sofas are packed by 11 p.m., making it an ideal warm-up destination.
Get a dose of Berlin’s all-hours club scene at the three-tiered Weekend Club, where peak party time is from 2 a.m. to sunrise. Celebrity D.J.’s like Tiefschwarz and Miss Kitten spin house and techno beats on the alfresco roof deck, flanked with space-age pod chairs, wooden benches, and 360-degree views of Berlin.
Party in the Pan Am Lounge, the legendary penthouse bar where airline staffers drank during West Berlin’s heyday. Relax in the original mod sofas and Naughahyde wingback chairs before taking in views of Kurfuerstendamm, the zoo, and the Tiergarten from the three terraces. Host a private party, tour the space, or score an invite to the ongoing friends-and-family parties by contacting the Website.
4. Insider’s Tip
See where Peaches got her inspiration at the Oranienburger Straße’s Galerie Tacheles, a legalized art squat where the electro-star once recorded. While you still can, tour the 9,000-square-meter, graffiti-covered compound’s galleries, ateliers, performance space, cinema, and theater—Tacheles loses its ten-year lease in late 2008, when the building is slated to become a Soho-style entertainment strip. After rambling around the old structure, have a beer at the slapdash roof terrace Offenbar.
5. Oddball Day
Berlin may be landlocked, but pack some flip-flops to visit more than 30 manmade beaches. Start at the duo of beaches behind the Eastside Gallery, a leftover hunk of the Berlin Wall named for the street-art paintings it bears. Or join the college crowd at Strandgut, a 4000-square-foot sand beach with palm trees, beach chairs, cheap burgers, and electro beats. The neighboring Ostrand—Berlin’s biggest and oldest beach bar—is made up of inflatable pools, cocktail bars, and 1,000 tons of sand that accommodates up to 2,000 people. Dress up for Spindler & Klatt, a posh outdoor lounge with giant beds, oversize white sofas, and a VIP loft on the banks of the Spree. End the night at the Badeschiff, a barge–cum–floating swimming pool and beachfront bar where D.J.’s score electronica dance parties on weekends.
ExBerliner.com, the Website of the monthly English language print mag, features cinema, theater, and art listings penned by expats living in Berlin.
The Tourism Berlin Website is regularly updated with surprisingly relevant entertainment and nightlife news and listings.
Berlin Life has an exhaustive English-language database of restaurant, clubs, and shops.