I am aware that my blog generally caters to the backpacker on somewhat of a budget, but if you’re looking for a bit of luxury, I may have something for you too.
I have been lucky enough to have had a couple of hotel stays during weekend visits to Berlin. The first was at the Kempinski Hotel Bristol on the Kurfürstendamm, home to the famous KaDeWe shopping centre. I couldn’t really afford anything here but it’s good if you are need of some holiday books and the food floor is worth a look. Sadly this was a while ago, so I have no photos, but the room I was staying in was in the older part, so perhaps not as swish as you might expect at a hotel like this, however I have since visited family staying there and their room was sufficiently snazzy.
The highlight of this hotel is the food. The hotel’s restaurant, Reinhard’s, served me the best steak I have ever had in my life for dinner and the biggest breakfast I have ever had in my life, the next morning. If there is one thing German hotels know how to do, it is breakfast. There was meats, cheeses, cereals, fish, breads, pastries and cooked breakfasts. All this may come at a cost but it’s totally worth it. The central location is also fantastic, on one of the big shopping streets. There is a U Bahn station right outside, so the city is at your fingertips.
Around the corner from the Kempinski is the Europa Center and inside this is Daitokai, the best Japanese restaurant I have ever been to. The walls are wood paneled, the waitresses wear kimono and there is even a little stream trickling through, complete with real-life fish. The chefs cook the food at the tables, so you get dinner and a show. They make it look something like an art form, swishing and flicking their knives and balancing sauces on the flat blade. The first time I had a delicious dinner of beef and duck. The second time I went, I had a luxurious, 7-course meal which culminated in ice cream that was set alight but didn’t melt. The next morning I had an actual food hangover but it was worth the pain. I think this is possibly my most favourite restaurant.
A little further away is another must try restaurant. Located at Gendarmenmarkt, the chocolatiers Fassbender & Rausch has a cafe alongside its chocolate shop. The shop itself is impressive enough, with chocolate sculptures as decoration, but the cafe is the closest I have ever been to heaven. Apparently you can actually get a full, 3-course, chocolate inspired meal but I have only stopped off for lunch. The first time, I had a mocha that looked more like a milkshake and a dessert that consisted of a wafer bowl lined with dark chocolate, filled with stracciatella ice cream and topped off with whipped cream. My lunch buddy had a fruit-ice cream combination and, when he poured his chocolate sauce over it, it hardened as it touched the cold plate.
The second time I visited the chocolate cafe, if you can believe it, was even better. This time, I had a white chocolate mousse, with raspberries in the centre and sandwiched between a layer of sponge and a layer of raspberry goo (I don’t know how else to describe it), all lovingly wrapped in a thin layer of white chocolate. To add insult to injury, I also had a hot chocolate that was so rich, it had to come with a shot glass of water to help ease it down!
During my second weekend stay in Berlin, I stayed in the Hilton Hotel on Gendarmenmarkt. This time I was better at taking photos, including of the view of the cathedral that I got when I opened the curtains in my room, so you can see it for yourself.
The central location was very convenient and we were able to walk to the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag and Museum Island easily enough. The breakfasts also matched those of the Kempinski, with a similar array of goods laid out for the taking. I’m not really one for eating a lot at breakfast, but everything was so delicious that here it turned into a three course meal. Sometimes even four. There was fruit for starters, a fry up which included meatballs, bread with meat and cheese and then cake.
The hotel was also pretty good at providing bar food. On my first night, I didn’t get to the hotel until after 10pm, by which point my father, who I was on holiday with, was already at a bar and waiting for me. By the time we actually were ready to turn in, it was about 11.30pm and neither of us had eaten. Thankfully, the Hilton’s bar was still serving food until midnight and so they brought us a massive plate of nachos, covered in mincemeat, and some currywurst and chips. Currywurst is a sauce covered in curry sauce and is a Berlin delicacy. It is therefore essential sampling for tourists and I am happy to say that the Hilton did it well.
The hotel is also close to lots of restaurants, including the Augustiner am Gendarmenmarkt. This Bavarian restaurant may not exactly be local cuisine but it was cultural enough. My beef goulash was simply delicious.
Within walking distance is the famous Unter Den Linden, where I stopped off at Einstein Cafe for an ice cream break. This was the perfect place for just that. Lots of cafes in Berlin have chairs sprawling out onto the street, so you can sit and watch the world go by. That is exactly what I did, hand in hand with scoops of vanilla and chocolate ice cream, which even had little chunks of chocolate in it, and which were topped off with whipped cream. Scrum-diddly-umptious.
Last, but by no means least. is the bar across the square from the Hilton: Newtons. The bar itself stretched out onto the edge of the street and had a bit of an old-school feel about it. On a warm night, it is the perfect place to sit out with a beer or a cocktail and just relax in the shadow of the cathedral.