Berlin’s Secret Winter Retreats
Greetings, frosty adventurers and warm beverage enthusiasts alike! Bundle up, grab your knitted scarves and lace up those boots, we’re embarking on a whimsical journey through the frost-kissed streets of Berlin. We’re not hunting for the usual tourist traps, oh no! We’re sleuthing out the secret winter retreats, the hideaways that only the most in-the-know Berliners brave the chill for. So, pack a sense of adventure (and maybe an extra pair of socks), and let’s dive in.
First, let’s take our frozen noses to a hidden gem that even the locals struggle to find: Das Versteckte Eichhörnchen, or ‘The Hidden Squirrel’ for those of us less versed in the German tongue. Nestled among the graffiti-covered buildings of Kreuzberg, this place is as elusive as its namesake. The door is unmarked, the windows are dark, but once you step inside, it’s like entering a different world. The aroma of freshly ground coffee mingles with the scent of old books, the walls are lined with vintage posters, and the mismatched furniture adds an eccentric flair that screams ‘Berlin’. The baristas here are no caffeine-pushers – they’re artistes, crafting every cup with the love and care of a mother squirrel tending to her acorns.
Moving on, we venture into the heart of Mitte. Forget about the iconic TV Tower or Museum Island, we’re heading to the underground labyrinth known as ‘Minotaurus’. A multi-level maze of antiquarian delights, it’s a haven for those who adore the peculiar and unique. From vintage clothing and rare vinyl records to retro video games, you can lose hours just wandering through this wondrous wonderland. And once you’ve worked up an appetite, head up to the rooftop café. The hot chocolate is so thick you could stand a spoon in it, and paired with a slice of their homemade Apfelstrudel, it’s as close to nirvana as you can get without leaving Berlin.
Next, we’re off to Friedrichshain, the hipster heartland of Berlin. Tucked away in a refurbished factory building is the ‘Wintergarten’. During the day, it’s a quirky coworking space, buzzing with the energy of start-up dreams and coffee-fueled creativity. But come nightfall, it transforms into a magical winter oasis. The glass ceiling is strewn with fairy lights, creating a canopy of stars, while the industrial chic interior is warmed by a crackling fireplace. Their signature winter cocktail, ‘The Frosty Friedrich’, is a heady blend of vodka, elderflower, and a secret ingredient that even the KGB couldn’t get out of the bartender.
Now, let’s get a bit adventurous and head to the outskirts of the city. ‘Das Ewige Eis’ (The Eternal Ice) is worth every minute of the S-Bahn ride. This cool hideout in Pankow is a converted warehouse turned winter wonderland. It’s home to Berlin’s only indoor ice-skating rink, where you can channel your inner Michelle Kwan, or if you’re anything like me, Bambi on ice. After a few spins (or falls), warm up with a cup of their famous Glühwein. It’s a traditional German mulled wine that will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and not just from the alcohol.
Finally, we journey back to the city center and find ourselves in Charlottenburg. Hidden behind an unassuming façade is the ‘Schneehütte’ (Snow Cabin). Imagine a rustic ski lodge, complete with wooden beams, plush fur throws, and a roaring fireplace. The ambiance is cozy and inviting, making it the perfect place to unwind after a day of secret hideaway hunting.
But wait, we’re not done yet! Berlin’s secret winter retreats are as numerous as the currywurst stands, so stay tuned for part two of our frosty adventure. You didn’t think we’d reveal all the secrets in one go, did you? Until then, keep warm and carry a thermos.
Q: What are some of the best-kept secret winter retreats in Berlin?
A: Ah, you’ve come to the right place for that! Berlin is full of hidden gems that transform into winter wonderlands when the temperature drops. Let’s start with Café am Neuen See. Nestled in the heart of Tiergarten, Berlin’s largest and oldest park, this café turns into a cozy retreat during winter with its fireplace and hearty German fare.
Then, we have the Liquidrom. This spa offers a unique experience with its saltwater floating pools, saunas, and massages. The best part? Its domed architecture allows you to gaze at the starry sky while soaking in the warm pool.
Last but not least, let’s not forget about the Sammlung Boros. This contemporary art collection is housed in a converted WWII bunker, providing a warm refuge from the biting Berlin winter. The collection is constantly changing so it’s always a good idea to visit again.
Q: How can one reach these retreats?
A: Berlin is a well-connected city, and getting to these retreats is relatively easy. Café am Neuen See is just a short walk from the Zoologischer Garten or Tiergarten S-Bahn stations. For Liquidrom, simply take the U-Bahn to Möckernbrücke and you’re there. As for Sammlung Boros, it’s a stone’s throw away from Oranienburger Tor U-Bahn station.
Q: What should one expect in terms of crowd?
A: Well, as they’re somewhat of a secret, they’re not usually as crowded as the more mainstream spots. However, Berliners are savvy and they love these places too, so don’t expect to have them all to yourself. Weekends tend to be busier, so if you’re looking for a quieter experience, try visiting on a weekday.
Q: What are the operating hours for these retreats?
A: Café am Neuen See is open from 9 am to midnight, but it’s always a good idea to check their website for any changes. Liquidrom operates from 10 am to midnight, with extended hours until 1 am on Fridays and Saturdays. Sammlung Boros is open from 10 am to 6 pm, Thursday to Sunday. But remember, you must book a slot in advance.
Q: Any other winter retreats you would recommend in Berlin?
A: Absolutely! If you’re a fan of ice-skating, you must visit the historic Berliner Weihnachtszeit near Alexanderplatz. They have a lovely ice rink, along with a charming Christmas market. For a more relaxed setting, the Stue Bar at the Das Stue hotel offers a chic, cozy retreat with an extensive cocktail menu and plush interiors.
Remember, Berlin is like a treasure chest of experiences, and there’s always a new gem to discover, especially in winter!