** This guest post about one of my favorite cities in Europe was written by Holly Maguire, current Berlin resident, of Escapio.com. Like many places in Europe, it is possible to plan a budget trip or a luxury blow-out in Berlin – the choice is up to you.**
Berlin is incredibly now. It’s a city of individuality, diversity, a jigsaw of history and an addictive sense of liberty showcased in the street fashion, music scene and changing cityscape. Ironically, after being such an undesirable place to live for decades, its become a magnet for backpackers and fur-coated visitors alike – and the great value food and accommodation are just a couple of reasons why it’s not unusual to end up staying for days, weeks and even years longer than planned.
Eating out offers a mezze-like feast of international options, reflecting the diverse makeup of nationalities living in the city. The waft of Turkish food tumbles out onto the streets like the bellies of the men carving slices of the twirling meat for delicious Doner kebabs. Available for 2,50€ and overflowing from fresh bread with plenty of salad and sauce, this street-food treat is sure to keep hunger at bay.
Weekend brunch is an institution and the generous buffets allow hours of chatting and grazing until late in the afternoons. The concept of dinner doesn’t quite exist amongst most whose days and nights blur into a body clock-less world of partying through til dawn. Nevertheless, there are plenty of excellent gourmet restaurants. The Michelin starred eateries, like Margaux and Paris-Moskau, tend to be around Unter den Linden or in the West and have strong French influences – here you’re likely to find wining and dining diplomats and upmarket tourists. To get under the skin of the city and eat well there is no compromise to be made – a wealth of reasonably priced Vietnamese, Italian, Indian, Spanish and sushi restaurants are peppered across the city. The famous Monsieur Vuong lives up to its reputation in Mitte; head to Bergmannstrasse for a youthful vibe and a microcosm of the city’s cuisine.
Accommodation, like the rent here, is seriously good value. There are the famous boutique hotels including two classically styled Kempinski hotels – the Adlon and Bristol, though the pick of the five stars must include the Hotel de Rome, Mandala and Brandenburger Hof. These properties remain extremely special treats for the ordinary traveller – though it’s worth nipping in to see the lobby decor and splash out on a cocktail at least.
For more modest visitors to Berlin wanting to stay somewhere quirky, unique and intimate without breaking the bank, there are plenty of cute boutique hotels cropping up all over the place to sweep you in and charm you into bed. The new Casa Camper is the Spanish shoemakers’ mark on Mitte; whilst style oozes from the cool abodes Hotel Q! and the art’otel berlin city center west with an ongoing Andy Warhol exhibition enthralling visitors. Cool hostel-cum-hotel Michelberger near Warschauer Strasse station is a hip, rough-luxe treat for scenesters but for backpackers and budgeteers there are hundreds of hostels across the city which are renowned for their cleanliness, safety and decent prices.