Life is a cabaret in Berlin

The Hedonist

As I lay back sipping a glass of bubbly in my bathrobe, studying the sweaty naked forms milling around me, I mused that this may be the place to most authentically replicate the feeling of decadence that many visitors expect from a Berlin weekend. That is, of course, if you like your decadence to come with a pool that's wired for sound and housed within an elegant modern concrete and glass structure, which is how Liquidrom at Möckernstrasse 10 (00 49 30 2580 07820; liquidrom-berlin.de) has set itself up. Here, a late-night dip in the main saltwater pool means floating blissfully around in near darkness with your ears under water to listen to the relaxing sounds of the live band piped in from the main dry room. I follow up this futuristic experience with a drink at the bar, foregoing an unclothed session in the saunas.

Having enjoyed this sensuous evening out, I retire to my suite at Brandenburger Hof at Eislebener Strasse 14 (00 49 30 214 050; brandenburger-hof.com), a boutique hotel in the Charlottenburg area of town. This is a secret hideaway for the great and the good of Berlin's visitors and there is an intimate, luxurious ambiance to the place. I order a movie to stay up late. To my great delight, popcorn is brought with it and I'm told I can keep the DVD.

Breakfast in the light, bright conservatory area is a collection of mini-plates, including petite pancakes with a syrup pipette – perfect fuel for a spot of exploring. To get the best of the real, gritty city, I head over to meet my guide from Alternative Berlin Tours (00 49 162 819 8264; alternativeberlin.com). I'm led around to the most up-and-coming areas of the East – including the new street art forming the future of the area. Then I settle into a cosy little café for lunch – Volckswirtschaft at Krossener Strasse 17 (00 49 30 6920 6861; volckswirtschaft-berlin.de), swiftly followed by a delicious sugar hit from the aptly named Cupcake Berlin at Krossener Strasse 12 (00 49 30 2576 8687; cupcakeberlin.de).

There's just time to visit a few offbeat shops, including Trash Schick at Wühlischstrasse 31 (00 49 30 2005 3526; trashschick.de), where I snag some vintage goodies, and Big Brobot at Kopernikus Strasse 19 (00 49 30 7407 8388; bigbrobot.de) for streetwear and kooky accessories.

Dinner at the new Zum Schwarzen Hasen at Krausnickstrasse 1 (00 49 30 6396 5032; zumschwarzenhasen.de) offers a taste of Berlin's cosmopolitan tops – classic German cuisine done like modern tapas along with some carefully selected regional wines. Afterwards, I continue the mix of old and new with an evening's cabaret. The Art Deco building of the Chamäleon Theatre at Rosenthaler Strasse 40/41 (00 49 30 400 0590; chamaeleonberlin.de) makes for an atmospheric backdrop as barely dressed performers amaze the crowd with their agility, grace and humour.

Although some of the German jokes are lost on me, the local audience are tickled and the half-time happy hour lubricates the evening. The building, decorated in Thirties style, immerses us in the decadent world of inter-war Berlin.

A Hedonist's Guide to ... (Hg2) is a luxury city guide series for the more decadent traveller. For more information, see hg2.com

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