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An Insider’s Guide to Berlin

Steeped in history, rich in culture, and awake all night long: breathtaking Berlin is the city that keeps getting better. Since its infamous Wall fell, Berlin’s creativity has flourished, with art galleries, bars, theatres, and iconic architecture springing up all over the formerly Soviet-era cityscape.

Legendary history lurks around every corner in Berlin, so join a walking tour to take in some of the city’s fascinating past, awe-inspiring architecture and insider anecdotes (and for those who prefer pedaling to pedestrianism , there are also plenty of bike tours on offer). Culture vultures will never go hungry for mind-food in Berlin, with some 600 galleries and 175 museums to savour across the city.

Thanks to retail-revering lawmakers, Berlin’s shopping hours are unrestricted (in practice, most shops are open until at least 8pm, the big shops until 9 or 10pm). To sample some of the city’s most exclusive shopping, hit up-market Friedrichstraße. Europe’s biggest department store KaDeWe at Wittenbergplatz is a charming must-see (and the sixth-floor food hall is the perfect place for peckish shoppers). If you’re hankering after some hot local design, Scheunenviertel and Prenzlauer Berg sell the best from Berlin’s fashion-makers.

With culinary offerings as diverse as its inhabitants, Berlin has food to whet anyone’s appetite, serving up everything from street-sold currywurst (sliced sausage slathered in curry sauce: a must-try) to Michelin-starred fine dining. One of our favourite spots to soak up the Berlin sunshine is Café am Neuen See, a cosy little café with lake views in the heart of the Tiergarten. For a more elaborate affair, treat yourself to a 30-course masterpiece at Cinco, in Das Stue hotel, where Paco Pérez proves why he has four Michelin stars up his chef’s whites.

With hip new bars popping up on every corner, Berlin has no shortage of places to find a thirst-quenching tipple. Drink in a German beer and spectacular skyline views on the roof terrace of Smith-approved Soho House Berlin. Or for cocktails, fur and feathers, hit Das Stue’s cosy hotel bar, overlooking the ostrich area of Berlin zoo. Prost!

Slumber in style, savour an award-winning meal, and spy on the animals at boutique hotel Das Stue next to the Berlin zoo. Constructed by Johann Emil Schaudt, the man behind famous KaDeWe, Das Stue’s grand building was once the elegant residence of the Danish Embassy. Imposing spaces such as the hotel’s vast entrance and three-storey library are enlivened with playful nods to the beastly neighbours (look out for the smiling crocodile greeting you in the main lobby, and the apes hanging out in the hotel bar). The Casual restaurant dishes up mouthwatering Mediterranean cuisine, including tapas, and at the end of a long day’s sightseeing, the sparkling Susanne Kaufmann Spa will massage away pavement-pounding aches and pains.

Our favourite room, Room 503, is a drop-dead gorgeous corner room on the top floor overlooking the courtyard and the zoo. If you prefer a park view from your own terrace, book 504 instead: it’s the same category and has a bath tub that spies on the leafy green Tiergarten.

If you want to wake up in a Smith hotel instead of just reading about them, visit Mr & Mrs Smith’s collection of boutique hotels, or call the expert Travel Team on 1300-89-66-27. Book through Smith for exclusive extras at stays, including an early check-in and late check-out at Das Stue.

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