Big Night Out: Berlin
Decadence is in, but it's not obligatory
Sunday 01 December 2002
In the 1930s, Berlin was a byword for hedonism and excess. Those heady days are back and you will find plenty of up-for-it clubs and "one-nighters" offering everything from techno and house through to S&M parties, 24 hours a day. Get to grips with it all by going underground on the U-Bahn or overground on the S-Bahn. No journey should cost more than €3 (£2). Be there on 12 July 2003 for the infamous Love Parade, the world's biggest, raunchiest street festival.
The beautiful Berliners start drinking early. Happy Hour (6pm-9pm) is a rather stylish retro affair at Green Door, Winterfeldtstrasse 50, which is so cool that you have to ring the bell to be let in. Sybaritic sipping goes on at Club Seven Lounge, Ackerstrasse 20, where Mo Asumang's guests savour cocktails from the comfort of cream daybeds. Greenwich, Gipsstrasse 5, attracts a crowd who groove to the ultra-chilled beats of Café del Mar, within a leather-walled interior.
Partake of Kafee and Kuchen (coffee and cake) at Café Adler, Friedrichstrasse 206, where you can keep your eye on the site of Checkpoint Charlie. In summer, down a beer and a snack at the lakeside alfresco cafés, such as Café am Neuen See, in the leafy Tiergarten. Weitzmann, Husemannstrasse 2 (00 49 30 442 7125), dishes up Brandenburg specialities in a Bauhaus-style salon for less than €10 (£7). Umbrian cuisine with urban flair is found at Bocca di Bacco, Friedrichstrasse 156 (00 49 30 206 7282), under €20 (£14). VAU Restaurant, Jägerstrasse 54/5 (00 49 30 202 9730), offers new German fusion cuisine with a hint of Italian in an understated setting for less than €30 (£20).
Culture vultures have three opera houses to choose from, not to mention world-famous orchestras, one now under the direction of Sir Simon Rattle. Opera to go: Deutsche Oper, Bismarckstrasse 35 (00 49 30 341 0249), Komische Oper, Behrenstrasse 55-7 (00 49 30 4799 7400), Deutsche Staatsoper, Under den Linden 5-7 (00 49 30 2035 4555). Check out the Berlin Philharmonic, the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester and the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin.
Sage Club, Kopenicker Strasse 78, is a see-and-be-seen place where house music rules. A mixed and lively crowd congregates at SO36, Oranienstrasse 190, which mainly plays techno. For the ultimate in decadence try the Kit Kat Club, Bessemerstrasse 2-14, where half the crowd dresses in fetish gear. The main gay clubs are ShwuZ, Mehringdamm 61 and Connection, Fuggerstrasse 33, where you dance in a sea of beautiful boys with pumped-up pecs.
Late-night snack bars are plentiful. Try Habibi, Goltzstrasse 24, an Arabian stand-up bar offering everything from hummus to aubergine mousse. Biers 195, Kurfürstendamm 195, attracts night owls, fast-food junkies and celebs. For home-made fat chips and loads of sauces, head for Fritz & Co, Am Wittenbergplatz.
Berliners recover with an all-day breakfast. Tomasa, Motzstrasse 60, serves up big platefuls: think English but with cheese, as well as vegetarian and organic options. Or try Café Einstein, Kurfürstenstrasse 58.
Cresta Holidays (0870 161 0900; www.crestaholidays.co.uk) offers a three-night b&b break at the three-star Hotel Tiergarten from £298 per person, including return flights. German Tourist Office (020-7317 0908; www.germany-tourism.de).
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