Daily Archives: 15 December 2014

Insiders: Berlin Legends – Lagerfeld von Xberg

Be aware, folks, this month’s interview definitely is the craziest one we’ve done yet. Nothing for the faint-hearted, either. This story’s protagonist has worked on more than 300 films and once planted a bomb in a Paris hotel room. It went off. This interview will take you on a ride – an exclusive behind the scenes ride into a real treasure cave of the Berlin art scene.

It all began at a busy intersection in Berlin Kreuzberg (Kreuzberg = Xberg). Freezing our butts off in the typical Berlin cold of the winter, we were waiting to be picked up by our very special interview partner of the month. All we knew was when and where to wait. No address, no names, strictly anonymous. He usually doesn’t invite guests into his atelier and he usually doesn’t give interviews, either, but somehow we managed to get a hold of him. Don’t ask how.

And then, there he was. Lagerfeld von Xberg. We walked over to his side of the street and were greeted by a broad smile. It wasn’t quite enough to distract from the colourful jeans (self painted), the distinctive hair cut or several scarves loosely tingling from his neck, all in different colours. The friendly wrinkles around his eyes seemed timeless, and though well beyond 60 years, the sparkle in his eyes still burned with energy and curiosity. Eagerly we followed him through the depths of several Kreuzberg backyards, slowly loosing orientation – night comes early in Berlin this time of the year and we found ourselves surrounded by a wall of grey slab buildings.

If what happened so far felt out of place, we were in for way more than that. We entered his flat. Immediately our brains started putting up a protest against the sudden visual impact the blur of colours had on us. The walls and floor plastered with collages of naked women, dressed women, graffitis, paintings, tags, posters, plaster figures. In the middle of the room ten partly molten barbies dangle down from the ceiling, body parts sticking in all directions. The upper body of a plaster figure next to us obviously required a caesarean section, the head of a barbie doll sticking out of its bloody belly. The life sized plaster bear at the opposing wall seems to be waiting. To start pissing in a bucket located right under his crotch. What was all this? It was time to start asking questions, but… where to begin?

Q: Hey Lagerfeld. Who are you and… what is it you’re doing here?

A: I’m a living being. I’m Lagerfeld von Xberg. You know, Lagerfeld of Paris loves Chanel, Lagerfeld of Xberg loves Chantal.

That much was obvious. His shirt depicted a woman with a mask on, pulling down her shirt that said “Chantal” in the direction of her bare vagina. Lovely.

Q: Right. And why do you call yourself “Lagerfeld”?

A: I once worked for Karl Lagerfeld and I think he really is a great, inspiring person. An idol of human nature. But me, I never chose to be Lagerfeld. Apparently I talk a lot like him. I mumble a little, so folks started calling me Lagerfeld. I also really liked Dennis Hopper. He had that aura of greatness and was a great guy to work with, very professional.

Q: I see. So how did all this begin? What are your roots?

A: When I was 7, a military doctor removed my tonsils by force. He tore them out, no anaesthesia. When I was 10, I was put in a nunnery with deaf and retarded children… the problem was, I was neither. I spent 10 years there, involuntarily. After I survived that, I became a window shop decorator for the KaDeWe

Henrik and me shot ourselves careful sight glances. That was some heavy stuff. But it didn’t explain how he ended up here, or how he had done 300 films, or destroyed a hotel room in Paris.

Q: So how did you end up in the film making business?

A: There once was this group of film makers sitting next to me in a restaurant. They talked about some issues they had with the special effects and pyrotechnics for their movie, so I offered help. Next thing I know, I’m working on the requisites for a movie by Fred van der Kooij. After the movie was released, Studio Babelsberg called me and asked if I wanted to do the special effects for a big cinema production they were making. But there was a requirement. They asked me: “Have you ever done cinematic movies before?”. So I replied “Hell yes I have”.

Q: But that was a lie, it was only your second movie!

A: Of course it was. I never actually said I was pyrotechnist either, they just thought so. Technically I was always very close to hearing the prison door slam shut behind me, but things never went wrong.

Q: Luckily! Like that one time, when you set off a bomb in a Paris hotel room. What was that all about?

A: I received a call, asking if I could detonate a hotel room in Paris. Hotel Marceau was planning to renovate their premises and they came up with the idea to allow several artists to reshape the interior of the rooms and create something unique before starting the renovations. Nah, I said, that’s a little over my head. I mean, come on. Then Gregor Hildebrandt came up to me – he was one of the artists given a room to express his vision – and had me convinced I was the only person for this job. So… I built a bomb. And took it to Paris.

Q: Jesus. Did you inform the authorities that you built a bomb for an art project?

A: Well… I meant to, really. But somehow that didn’t work out, so I smuggled the bomb to Paris on a train. The authorities in Paris never knew there was going to be an explosion, so I made my escape right after it went off. Just to make sure I wouldn’t be arrested.

Q: Good thinking. So… what are all those barbie dolls doing here? 

A: They were requisites for a movie we made. My daughters handed me their old dolls and I decapitated them, melted them and tore them apart. For the movie of course. Went okay, they don’t scream, don’t mind anyway and never once complained.

Q: So you didn’t do that because you think that Barbies are bitches or something, right?

A (laughs): No, my bitches are over in the kitchen. Cut them out of calendars. My cooking bitch, my dish washing bitch, my shoe cleaning bitch and my turn-me-on bitch. But the turn-me-on bitch is sitting in the corner as I don’t want her to turn me on all the time.

At first we thought it was all a little (read: very) astonishing, but listening to this old jolly soul tell his story, all the while with an amused twinkle in his eyes, you couldn’t help it but to like this guy.

Q: What does Berlin mean to you?

A: Life, I guess. But for me, Berlin – that’s Kreuzberg. You can be whoever you want here, no one is going to judge you. You can be a human here, no games, no pretending. I worked in the KaDeWe and was always glad to come back home, I was in trendy Mitte and was always glad to come back home, I visited my grandchildren in the Schwarzwald and was always glad to come back home. The people in the other districts, they’re destroying their city. They’re just not human anymore. Of course you can reside in other districts, but you can’t really live there.

Q: Do you have a few tips for going out in Berlin?

A: I’ve never been much of a clubber. Last party I went to was the Berlinagenten anniversary party, but that was an exception. Do you like coffee, though? Every day I have one at my favourite Italian restaurant, Il Casolare or the Bistro Bar Bateau Ivre, an artists’ coffee bar at Heinrich Heine Platz. They’re very good and all know me by name. The owner’s name is Lauren.

Q: Thanks for the tips. What are your hopes for the future?

A: In my heart I always felt I really was a woman, so I’m looking to have an operation soon, where I get my… well, they’re going to cut something off. I know I’m 64, but I’m starting a new life now. I’m also working on my own project now, a movie about my fate. It’s still top secret, but you’ll like it.

Thank you, Lagerfeld von Xberg, I’m sure we will. We’re glad to have you around. Stay as you are!

Global Hotspot: Cracow

This month’s global hotspot: Cracow. There’s something that keeps drawing us East time after time again. Perhaps it’s the fact the people in the East are great to hang out with and always keep good faith, even though their intensely cold winters will probably soon make you understand why Vodka is so popular in Poland. Perhaps it’s the fact that the city is stunningly beautiful, maybe the most beautiful city in the whole country, the medieval core having survived the centuries with only little scratches. Perhaps it’s also a weird obsession we have with eastern countries, they’re close, they’re pretty, they’re full of beautiful women (men, not so much). Until we find out what it really is, we will keep on travelling east!

The legends around Cracow rank from dragons under the catacombs of Wawel to pidgeon knights defending the prestigious city until one day their king would return. Its history dates all the way back into the 4th century. In our 21st century adaption of the tale, it’s Henrik dwelling beneath the catacombs, armed with a glass of champagne and a perfectly fitting black suit, always on the  lookout for trendy bars (or maybe just the way out) in the unlikeliest of places. 

WW2 has been relatively kind to Cracow, as far as architecture is concerned. As one of the few Polish cities that didn’t look like a crushed lego set after the end of the war, Cracow holds invaluable treasures of history. However, not everything about Cracow is as beautiful as it might seem today. The city’s trendy jewish quarter, Kazimierz, suffered heavily under the invasion and vandalisation by the Germans in WW2. The mostly jewish habitants of Kazimierz were confined to a ghetto created in Podgórze, a suburb on the other side of the river. Of the 64000 habitants only 10% survived the slaughtering. 

We spent several days in the city and fell in love with Kazimierz and the Old Town, which make up the city’s traditional center with the historic Royal Castle towering in between the two. Podgórze, located on the other side of the river, is where you’ll find the world famous Schindler’s Factory (yes, the one from the movie!). As many of the quarters in the two center districts were deserted during WW2 and partly decayed under the following Soviet rule, the habitants of Cracow were now given the chance to give new purpose to the abandoned buildings, reshaping the city’s heart in the best of ways – for the people. These past 20 years have seen the uprise of many bars, restaurants cafés and an extremely vivid nightlife. The city is living through a real renaissance and flourishes with life. Legend has it that Cracow now has the highest density of bars in the world and we were there to find out! Here’s our selections of the best bars, hotels, restaurants and museums the city has in store for you.

Hotels

Globelia3

This is our absolutely top pick – value for money and modern apartments located righ next to the main square.

Hotel Copernicus

The most luxurious hotel in town!

Hotel Stary Cracow

Hotel Grodek

Topolowa Residence

Laiko Apartments

Bracka 6 

Restaurants

Boscaiola

Farina

Aubergine

Edred

Hamsa 

Bon Appetit Krakow

Restauracja I Piwiarnia

Podaniolami

Fabfusion

Bars & Clubs

The main nightlife districts are the Old Town and Kazimierz. Find an extended list of the clubs here.

Pijalnia Wódki i Piwa

Bunkier Café

Klubokawiarna Relaks

Alchemia

La Habana

Propaganda

Le Scandale

Frantic

Pauza

Klub Cocon

Museums & Sightseeing

If you’re keen to get to know Cracow from a cultural site, be sure to check out this website, they offer a great variety of activities and general information on the topic.

Another extended guide can be found here.

Our picks:

Schindler’s Factory (our top-pick, must-visit)

The Kraków Ghetto (Podgórze)

Liban Quarry + Plaszow Concentration Camp

Nowa Huta

Salwator

Day Trips

Auschwitz Birkenau and Memorial Museum (our top pick, must-see!)

Wieliczka Salt Mine

Zakopane and Tatra Mountains

On Tour: X-mas Edition

It’s our favourite time of the year again. Millions of people joyfully swarm through Berlin’s streets, shopping malls and train stations and as always, the city is bursting at the seams. With all the tours we’ve done lately we still haven’t gotten around to buying Christmas presents! Aaahhh! Sometimes I feel ripping my beard off, throwing away my Christmas hat and shooting all the reindeers, but then I remember I’m not Santa and immediately feel better. 

However, Berlin actually is a great place to be in the festive season – afterall there’s good reason why there are so many tourists visiting the city this time of the year. We have a huge selection of great Christmas Markets, ranging from traditional, romantic and historic to edgy, funky and super trendy. Yes, even the Christmas Markets have become trendy in the ever growing battle for coolness in Berlin. Beware of the mulled wine stands though, we’re pretty certain these guys have become millionaires over the last years and are just trying to rip us off a little more by the year (but what are we going to do, we need that mulled wine!!!). Then there’s great gift shops all over the city, lots of cool (literally) activities like iceskating right next to Berlin’s hottest nightclubs or a tobbogan run with a view of the Brandenburg Gate. And of course with this many tourists in the city, the nightlife gets even crazier than usual. Once again our party invitation inbox is close to bursting, but… so are we.

The past year has been extremely busy and successful for us and at this point we’re really looking forward to some well earned days off. The next issue of our blog won’t be released before February 2015. We’d like to genuinely thank all our guests, customers, partners and readers who accompanied us throughout the year.. Thank you, we would net haven gotten drunk so often without you!! 

Back to business – If you’re in Berlin and haven’t decided on what to do during the festive season yet, here’s our top picks of Christmas markets, entertaining activities and gift shops. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone! <3

X-mas Markets

The edgy funky „Holy Heimat“ Market

A market dedicated to the Scandinavian countries

The largest Christmas market in Berlin

Shop until you drop at Christmas Rodeo hipster market

The official Christmas Market of Berlin

Finde an extended list of markets here.

Gift Shops

Berlin brands & innovations

Design &  accessoires

Stylish concept food packages

Voucher – Beauty products or spa treatments

Voucher – A contemporary gourmet tour

X-mas Pubs&Clubs (last chance to get laid before the year ends…)

The oldschool West goes underground

An „enter hetrosexual and leave homosexual“ bar experience

Hardened daytime drinkers & post-party ravers in a 24 hours open bar

The non-stop dance party until Monday lunch…

The „after play“ fetish party

Red Carpet – Henrik’s Excessive World

The end of the year is coming and we’ve used the opportunity to visit the hottest events before 2015!

Premiere of The Hunger Games – Mockingjay 

We chased Hunger Games star Elizabeth Banks to the red carpet of the Berlin premiere after she had left the Soho House just a few seconds before we did. The special screening and 2nd premiere world wide took place in the Kraftwerk, a huge industrial power station which was one of the film locations an   d had that typical Berlin underground flair to it. Everyone had to hand in their phones to grim looking security guys before getting inside – they even had an x-ray scanner! Absolute highlight: the huge symbol of resistance was set on fire during the event, illuminating the airy hall with a fierce glimmer. We were driven home in a VIP shuttle after enjoying pulsing electro beats at the afterparty in the industrial complex. Direct neighbour: Tresor Club!

La Banca – Hotel de Rome

When luxury calls, Berlinagenten isn’t far! And neither is the rest of the world. Bruce Willis’ wife Emma Heming-Willis especially came to Berlin all the way from Los Angeles to attend the grand opening of the restaurant La Banca in Sir Rocco Forte’s Hotel de Rome. The new interior design is working out fabulously, it’s been redesigned nearly as gracefully as some of the richer guests’ facial expressions, cough cough. We lived through a night of tasty rosé-prosecco from Ferrari, super delicious macarons and got mighty drunk with the likes of Jette Joop, Hardy Krüger Jr. and Berlin’s most famous playboy Rolf Eden.

Hotel Zoo Opening

The newest addition to the ensemble of high class hotels in City West started off with a big bang. We came early to witness a thunderstorm of camera flashes greeting us and the oncoming celebrities. People just wouldn’t stop flooding into the hotel until midnight, a point at which you could count yourself lucky if you had enough space to stand on the ground with both feet. We bathed in groovy house beats, had too many vodka cranberries and were entertained well by the whole-hearted attempts of rich boys trying to dance to techno music! Read more about Hotel Zoo here.

Crackers

When we found out that Crackers was about to open its doors we called up all our old raver friends and set sail for a revival. The new bar and restaurant comes with a modern design and was packed with anything from fancy-schmancy to old ravers, even the legendary party queen Britt Kanja paid her hommage (we did an interview with her last month!). True to the Cookies’ spirit, the crowd went completely nuts when the DJ played Tok Tok vs Soffy O’s “Missy Queen’s Gonna Die” – a tribute to the old days of Cookieness. The atmosphere went through the ceiling and never got back down – intense night!

Intercontinental Christmas Party

The annual celebration at the Intercontinental Hotel always knows to please with the classic treats for a good party: great food, even better drinks and a very pleasant crowd. Mostly. With big parties like this one you’ll always see a few hyperactive scroungers trying to set the world record for most eaten food in one night, but the supply was generous and the enthusiastic dancers in sparkling outfits performing to catchy Discoboogie tunes soon made us forget our troubles. We’ll definitely be back next year!

Meliá Hotels International meets Palazzo

Palazzo is where brilliant cooking meets award winning acrobatics and we honestly couldn’t decide what we liked better. Michelin-star chef Kolja Kleeberg created a breathtaking 4 course gourmet dinner, which was great. Our moderator Chantal was hilariously funny, which was great too, but her jokes almost made us throw up all the delicious food again and now our abdominal muscles hurt form laughing! Meliá carefully handpicked their guests – only 20 were in invited to this exclusive event. Nothing you’ll forget too soon!

Cadillac Experience

Who likes sexy American cars and cool underground locations? We do! Cadillac rented an underground parking lot near the Staatsoper and transformed it into a gigantic showroom deep under the surface. Fancy. Numerous stars and and celebs turned up, including Oliver Korittke, Natalia Avelon, Jana Pallaske, Nikolai Kinski, Cathy Fischer and act of the evening: Aloe Blacc and NYC DJ Nick Cohen, who really outdid themselves with their performance. Us and the other 300 guests consisting of car enthusiasts and VIP visitors were quite impressed with the efforts Cadillac had made to really hit the mood of the Berlin scene – it was spot on. Before we left we had a tasty Juicy Lucy Burger by chef Richard Blais, mmm!

The Scene meets Briefmarken Weine

Wine. Pasta. Even more wine. And here goes another one. Yep, we do love wine and we just found the perfect spot for our passion. Briefmarken Weine recently opened in Berlin Friedrichshain and the Italian owners Nicola and Alessandro deliver a promising concept. Their approach is to fuse the rustic charm of an old GDR post stamp shop with a classic italian wine bar without losing the original atmosphere of the surrounding. Works like a charm, if you ask us.

They offer more than Italian 130 wines, most of which originate from small, exclusive wineries, that often don’t produce more than a few thousand bottles of a particular grape variety. It’s important to the sympathetic team to not only sell wine, but to sell wine that tells a story, a wine that has a history of its own. Best example: we’ve had a Vignammare, a wine grown only on Sicily – just 50m from the shore. We were in for a surprise… this white wine actually tasted salty! It’s made with absolutely no fertilizers and you can really taste the italian sea on your tongue. Sounds a little strange at first, but it’s actually quite delicious, especially if combined with some fresh truffle mortadella that we had for starters. The food isn’t bad at all, quite on the contrary, but they only offer a very limited variety of dishes, clearly stating what their number one passion is: wine. God, we have so much in common!

With our cheeks slowly beginning to turn red (we’ve had had a few by then) we couldn’t help but to adore the laid back atmosphere of the bar. Screw Christmas, we’ll stay here for the next few weeks!

On Tour: Looking For Freedom With The Cider Of Sweden

December tours don’t always have to be cold and grey, at least not if you choose Berlinagenten to colour your stay! Our customers from Kopparberg UK, famous for making Sweden’s finest cider, wisely chose to have a very colourful time in Berlin and we were aiming to paint their stay vividly. 

To really reach into Berlin’s cool & hip scene, our cider-lovers chose the popular Urban Insider Tour. We knew we had found they key to our guests’ hearts when Henrik smashed away his terrific version of “Looking for Freedom” on the bus to the delight of everyone, right after we’d already seen the Brandenburg Gate (of course), the Potsdamer Platz, had strolled across the misty Oberbaumbrücke and had walked the Eastside Gallery, where David Hasselhoff, the undisputed godfather of freedom-looking, once became a Berliner

Arriving at Soho House in the early evening, our guests’ eyes went wide when they found themselves embraced by the comforting luxury the house offers. Oh and don’t tell anyone – but we’ve heard one of Hollywood’s most famous film makers is shooting a movie in Berlin for the next two months and he’s resides at the Soho House. If you’re a paparazzi, forget this information immediately! 

We then found ourselves surrounded by curious faces all around when slurping down one cocktail after another next to jade-green pool at the roof top bar: where would the trip go? It was top secret…

…until we finally entered the culinary gem that captures the city’s taste like no other: La Soupe Populaire. We love the English and their habits and here’s a great one: Dress like it’s summer. Berlin in december? No problem. Summer clothes. If they don’t get too warm. The staff at La Soupe Populaire surely don’t get to see that very often but they played it cool by serving them prosecco upon arrival, making them feel warmer immediately (if they ever felt cold anyway).

After the dinner we’ve had a few more cocktails (the x-mas edition cocktail had a chocolate Santa in it, woaah!) in the VIP section of an edgy bar located in the machine room of an old brewery. Our guests became eager to really drop the bomb for the night. They were excited to get a taste of the legendary Berlin nightlife, and they’d found the perfect travel agency to do so! Henrik made some quick calls and before long, we found ourselves on the backseat of six cabs, on the way to the famous Avenue Club. Elegantly we jumped the queue and flew right through to the dancefloor – a legendary party night that went well into the morning hours and well beyond!

Our cheerful guests arrived as 35 Kopparbergers, but left as 35 Kopparberliners. We love to entertain our guests, especially if they’re keen to rock the city with glam and style. Now that we’ve seen what cider can do to people, we really hope cider makes the breakthrough in Berlin soon. No one needs Club Mate anyway.

The Scene meets Berlin’s Wild West – Hotel Zoo

An elegant jade green carpet depicting fearsome leopards leads the way past the floating reception into the holy halls of the newly reopened Hotel Zoo in West Berlin. After finding our way inside we soon realized our wildest hopes would not come true: no playful tigers, no friendly lions, not even baby leopards to pet, except for the ones decorating the carpet. Shame. A friendly receptionist soon made us forget about the lack of baby leopards by enlightening us about the establishment’s remarkable history. 

First opened in 1911, it was designed by Alfred Messel, one of the most well-known German architects of his time. The hotel became a huge success in the roaring twenties and fortunately remained largely untouched by the mayhem World War II brought. It became the official VIP Hotel for the Berlinale from 1950 to 1970, drawing the rich and famous to its halls like no other hotel. Romy Schneider, Grace Kelly, Hildegard Knef and Sophia Loren were regulars to the hotel – to name just a few.

After the fall of the Wall in 1989 though, the memory of the hotel’s glamorous past slowly started to fade. Things needed to change if Hotel Zoo was still aiming to be an unique accomodation amongst the many luxurious Hotels Berlin has to offer. These pas   t two years, the building’s interior was stripped down to its core. American star designer Dayna Lee and her design studio Powerstrip Studios entered the jungle of reconstruction and gave the hotel a beautiful new look, inside and outside, bearing in the mind the hotel’s history. 

Upon entering the living room right next to the reception, we found ourselves in an airy lobby with custom made leather couches and armchairs, surrounded by large floor-level industrial windows and an open fireplace, creating a somewhat pretentious yet very cozy atmosphere. This atmosphere is gracefully captured throughout the hotel. Even though their 145 rooms are all different from each other in size and character, the underlying pleasant atmosphere will accompany you no matter where you’re headed. All in all Dayna Lee’s take on the interior design is pretty awesome: She managed to infuse the place with a modern touch, all the whilepaying respect to the hotel’s glamorous past. A true artist!

The Grace Bar and the Grace Restaurant were designed by the same makers that brought us the trendy Avenue Club, so expect great parties that are guaranteed to attract a hip crowd. BUT – the bar will has a strict door policy so dress up, folks! The restaurant opens in January and since the hotel’s opening party already felt insane, we’re really looking forward to this one! A little highlight on the side: When you use the elevator to get to the upper levels, you’ll find yourself confronted by a wall of paparrazis. They’re depicted on the elevator’s walls and will start flashing once you start driving upwards, just in case you never get to be on the red carpet yourself.

When leaving the hotel we noticed something funny… a huge door (at least 7 meters in height) with an even bigger door handle (at least anaconda sized) was waiting to be opened in the living room but… it wouldn’t. A loud RAAAWWWRRRR came from the other side. Either Henrik hasn’t been fed for a while or that’s where they keep their feline predators. Meow. For your next Berlin visit, you should definitely consider staying at this top notch hotel, it’s worth every purr!