Berlin For Night Owls
Like to stay up late? Take note of Hilda Hoy’s favorite ways to explore Berlin’s late-night, after-hours side.
After-hour tips that make it well worth staying up late. BY HILDA HOY
T his is a city that comes alive at night, showing the most colorful, lively, and enchanting sides of its character under the cover of darkness. Whether you’re an avowed night owl, an insomniac, or just shaking off a touch of jetlag, follow these 10 tips to get your long Berlin night started.
10. MIDNIGHT READING
Late-night shopping isn’t really a thing in Berlin, with most shops closing up by 8pm. But luckily for bookworms and music lovers, there’s Dussmann (Friedrichstr. 90, www. kulturkaufhaus.de), a massive emporium of books, magazines, music, and stationery right in the heart of Mitte that stays open until midnight. Tucked away through a back atrium is a separate, two-level Englishlanguage bookstore, filled with cozy leather armchairs.
9. AFTER-HOURS ART
When the clock strikes 12, long after the city’s galleries and museums have locked their doors, is when Video Art at
Midnight is just getting started. Since 2008, this monthly series at Kino Babylon (Rosa-Luxemburg-Str. 30, www.videoartat-midnight.info) has been welcoming audiences for a free, late-Friday-night screening of video art. The venue is a cool arthouse cinema in Mitte that dates back to 1929. Set your alarm: This month’s event is on 14 April.
8. BEER AROUND THE CLOCK
As everyone knows, it’s far better to drink with company than to drink alone. At Bei
Schlawinchen (Schönleinstr. 34), you’re guaranteed to find a few companions at any hour of the day, since this 24-hour bar has reputedly been open non-stop for the last three decades. Don’t expect cocktails topped with paper umbrellas: This is a dive bar extraordinaire, with the ambience to match. It may be a little rough around the edges, but that’s part of the Kreuzberg charm – and the people-watching can’t be beat.
7. GOT THE MUNCHIES?
There’s something about the post-midnight air that can really make you hungry, and some of the best late-night eating is in Kreuzberg. The original, ever-popular branch of Burgermeister (www.burgermeister.de), tucked beneath the elevated U1 tracks at Schlesisches Tor, stays open extra late (3am weekdays, 4am weekends) to accommodate ravenous bar-hoppers. Not far off is also Konak Grill (Reichenberger Str. 10, www.konakgrill.de), where the specialty is grilled köfte meat patties stuffed into a crusty bun. For that sweet tooth, head to bakeries Melek Pastanesi (Oranienstr. 28) or
Salut Backwaren (Schlesische Str. 1), both of which are open all day, every day.
6. A TOUCH OF CLASS(ICAL)
Who said late nights need to be drunken and depraved? The “Late-Night Concerts” series at Konzerthaus, a genteel neoclassical hall on pretty Gendarmenmarkt square (www.konzerthaus.de), brings music and a touch of class to Berlin’s nights. This month’s event on 28 April features pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard playing pieces by Hungarian composers Ligeti and Kurtág, plus pianist-turned-poet Alfred Brendel reading some of his poems.
5. PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM
When it comes to romance, the old-school kind is sometimes the best. For more than a decade, a tiny movie theater in Prenzlauer Berg has been holding up its own special tradition: Every Saturday at midnight,
Lichtblick Kino (Kastanienallee 77, www. lichtblick-kino.org) screens one of the most enduring romance films of all time, the 1942
Casablanca. It’s the story of the doomed love between Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, set against the backdrop of WWII intrigue.
4. NIGHTTIME VIEWS
To see a completely different side to late-night Berlin, take the glass elevator to 16th-floor Solar (Stresemannstr. 76, www. solarberlin.com). It’s a thrilling ride as the elevator zips up the outside façade of the building, and outside the windows is a sea of twinkling lights reaching out to the horizon. The kitchen serves fine European cuisine until late, while the classy lounge floor one level above stays open until 3am with a slew of DJs laying down the soundtrack to the unbeatable night views.
3. JAZZ JAMS
There’s something about improv jazz that perfectly suits the anything-goes feel of the late-night hours. At A-Trane (Bleibtreustr. 1, www.a-trane.de), a venerable Charlottenburg jazz club dating back more than 20 years, there are monthly jam sessions where the tunes are fresh and the entry free, starting at midnight and going well into the wee hours. Don’t miss this month’s jam session on 1 April.
2. ALL-NIGHT CAFé
A Charlottenburg institution since 1978, Schwarzes Café (Kantstr. 148, www. schwarzescafe-berlin.de) isn’t your typical 24-hour food joint. It’s got style and character, housed in a grand, two-level, turnof-the-century space complete with original decorative stucco and parquet flooring. The scene is mixed and convivial, especially early on weekend mornings when the post-club breakfast crowd streams in.
1. HIT THE CLUBS
Berlin’s club scene hardly needs an introduction, does it? The city’s legendary nightlife is clearly one its major draws. To experience just a taste of the all-night club action, try Berghain (www.berghain.de) for so-hip-it-hurts minimal techno and house,
Watergate (www.water-gate.de) for slick crowd-pleasing house, Kater Blau (www. katerblau.de) for youthful, hedonistic party nights, and Tresor (www.tresorberlin.com) for techno of the hyper-masculine, basspounding type. Wherever you go, the party doesn’t really get started until at least 3am, so bring your stamina.
Clockwise from top left: The streets of Kreuzberg at night; creating drinks at Schwarzes Café; a jam session at A-Trane; a juicy burger from Burgermeister; Lichtblick Kino; late-night reading; Kreuzberg nights.