The city has two international airports: Tegel, sometimes considered the ‘main’ airport, and Schönefeld, which caters more to budget airlines. Tegel is closer to the hotel, around 10 kilometres to the north; a taxi should cost €15-20 and take around 15 minutes. From Schönefeld, take the express train to Berlin Zoo, before transferring to the southbound U9 on the U-Bahn (underground) network. Ride two stops to Spichernstraße. Flights and transfers can be arranged with the Smith24 Team; call 24 hours a day.
Berlin’s vast central station is to the north of the hotel on the other side of Tiergarten park. It’s got excellent connections with stations throughout Germany and its continental neighbours. High-speed ICE trains run on many major routes.
You won’t need a car unless you plan to leave the city for day trips, but if you do want to hire, the Smith24 team can arrange it; call 24 hours a day. To get a taste for the city’s past, you could zoom (well, sort of) around in a hired Trabant, the plastic-bodied motor icon of the east. Citizens of the GDR used to have to wait as long as 18 years to get one, so renting one of these bangers for a day would have seemed like an outrageous luxury (www.trabantberlin.de).
Worth getting out of bed for
An alternative to the traditional art gallery, me Collectors Room is a space for private collectors to exhibit – principally Thomas Olbricht, whose collection is one of the largest in Europe. Sitting alongside the art is the Wunderkammer, Olbricht’s own ‘cabinet of curiosities’, a modern equivalent to the treasure troves compiled by the worldly (and wealthy) during the Renaissance. For a change of scene, head to hip Kreuzberg, which went from being one of West Berlin’s poorest districts to one of it’s most sought-after today. The darling of the young, creative crowd, it's chock-full of bars, hip coffee houses and restaurants serving multi-cultural cuisine. Try Turkey’s equivalent of the pizza, a lahmacun, which is topped with minced meat, vegetables, herbs and spices. For a smorgasbord of other culinary treats, try Markthalle Neun, a large, covered market brimming with all manner of epicurean-worthy food and drinks. Alongside the boutiques on the Kurfürstendamm itself, you’ve also got the historic KaDeWe department store and BikiniHaus shopping centre within walking distance.
Knives at the ready, The Butcher awaits your arrival at the Sir Savigny hotel. No, the hotel doesn’t have an in-house psychotic – it’s their aptly named eatery, which specialises in devilishly good Aberdeen Angus burgers. You can see right into the kitchen as they slice and dice, so clearly, the men in aprons aren’t worried about having to tell any porkies about what goes on behind the scenes. Fittingly, the look is cool, almost clinical – brushed steel tables and gleaming white tiles – but the flavours and atmosphere are alive and kicking. For a truly German meal, try Marjellchen, which has been serving Prussian heritage food for years. The portions are hearty, the service is excellent and the owner, Ramona, can tell you some serious stories about Cold War era Germany. Try the fillet pot ‘Marjellchen’, a dish of beef and pork fillets served with fried potatoes, assorted vegetables and Béarnaise sauce.
Sat beneath the trees that ring the lake in the Tiergarten, Café am Neuen See is a winner in the summer: the large decked area is a picturesque spot to enjoy a tall beer and thin-base pizza.
Canal-side venue Club der Visionäre is centered around a redbrick house and a decked area overhung by a large willow tree. Top-drawer DJs spin on a regular basis, but the dance floor is small and the music fairly quiet, so it’s got quite a laid-back feel compared to some clubs. That said, this is still Berlin, and parties have been known to go on all weekend in the summer. Feeling lucky? Near-mythic club Berghain straddles the border between nearby Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain. We can’t guarantee that you’ll actually get in, but if you do, it’ll be a night (or day – its opening hours are famously lengthy) to remember.