Berlin has a reputation as an underground party mecca. But after a decade of DIY fun, the city is taking a more sophisticated turn.
Advertising tycoon Christian Boros transformed this 32,000-square-foot former Nazi bunker into a repository of contemporary art stocked with such blue-chip names as Olafur Eliasson and Damien Hirst, as well as younger talents like Danh Vo. Check in online at sammlung-boros.de in advance, as guided tours, available only on weekends, fill up fast (Reinhardtstrasse 20, 49.30.2759.4065).
From the outside, this art-world watering hole looks like an unstylish kneipe—a traditional German pub—but inside, unassuming stools and a thrift-store couch keep company with contemporary art from owner Stephan Landwehr’s private collection. (Landwehr also co-owns the city’s posh restaurant Grill Royal, with King Size partner Boris Radczun.) A chichi champagne menu is balanced by straightforward mixed drinks and beer. Every Wednesday there’s an Artists Night instead of a Ladies Night (Friedrichstrasse 112b, no phone).
Gallerist-cum-provocateur Javier Peres debuted a 10,000-square-foot space in the Kreuzberg neighborhood in 2005; late last year he shuttered his Los Angeles gallery and opened another 3,500-square-foot space in Berlin’s onetime Kabbalah Center, in the heart of Mitte. With September shows from Dan Attoe and up-and-comer Alex Israel, Peres offers an of-the-moment perspective that gels with the city’s sex, drugs, and punk ethos (Grosse Hamburger Strasse 17, 49.30.2759.5.0770).
Owner Nick Jones brought his fashionable members’ club to Berlin last year (other locations include London, New York, and L.A.), but visitors can get in on the action by booking one of its 40 hotel rooms. Set inside a former Bauhaus department store, it has the usual perks—a rooftop pool, restaurant, and spa—but is more reasonably priced than its sister properties, with rooms starting at 100 euros. The guest list is also distinctly Berlin: Electro-pop star Peaches and gallerist Johann Koenig regularly hold court (Torstrasse 1, 49.30.4050.440).
This unmarked jewel box of a bar and restaurant takes its tipples to the next level with inventions such as the Green Tea Sake Sour. The long, dim bar has a tiny dance floor at one end and a mirrored sci-fi sculpture of an eye at the other; patrons access the 50-seat restaurant through a pair of swinging doors behind the bar. The decor is industrial chic—with exposed ventilation ducts and perforated metal screens—and the menu provides a colorful mix of classic Japanese and Latin American fare (Schiffbauerdamm 11, 49.30.2758.2070).
Dittrich & Schlechtriem
After a stint running his eponymous New York gallery, André Schlechtriem returned full-time to Berlin in February 2009 to a 1,100-square-foot space in the center of Mitte. With exhibitions by emerging artists like the “Greater New York” show’s poster boy, David Benjamin Sherry, under his belt, Schlechtriem is joining forces with über entrepreneur Lars Dittrich to christen a new gallery (with two spaces), which promises to become a major player in the Berlin scene. Their schedule for the rest of the year includes a solo show by Deitch alum Robert Lazzarini, along with a stable of young talent from L.A. (Tucholskystrasse 38 and Rosa-Luxemburg-Strasse 27, 49.30.2434.2462).