Grab a bottle of champagne and put your kinkiest party dress on – Berlinagenten won an Oscar! Well… not an actual Oscar. We’re happy to announce we won the Luxury Travel Award for the Culinary Experience of the Year, which honestly is the closest thing to an Oscar you can win without being an actor.
The award winners are selected for their achievements in the travel industry by in-house professionals, international representatives of the hospitality scene and celebrity guest judges. They awarded our Gastro Rallye, a tour where one course is served at each restaurant. The ‘Gastro Rallye’ is an overall experience. While you’re eating and enjoying yourself in 3 or 4 different restaurants, you gain an introduction to the lifestyle of Berlin.
The focus lies on innovation of food and a modern kitchen, service orientation, contemporary interior and cool overall design. We usually avoid Michelin star restaurants as they often are too pretentious, missing the buzz of a cool crowd. That approach was the beginning of Berlinagenten - a story of success. It was never our intention to save the world, but to help high demanding travellers. We feel very honored to receive this award and we want to thank all our customers, partners and guides who have made all this possible.
If you’re on the hunt for an honest, unpretentious restaurant with superb food in the heart of Berlin – hunt no more. Restaurant Ross is located in a former stable in a cozy Mitte backyard and has impressively reminded us of the true virtues of gastronomy: taste and atmosphere.
When Crackers’ former restaurant manager Sascha and self-learned chef Uri first passed their future restaurant, they sneaked through the unlocked backdoor to take a peek. Property viewing, Berlin-style. Not a year has passed since and their gourmet horse is making way for the fast lane.
The interior feels very honest. The décor is simple, the walls are plain white. The chairs and benches are made of wood – unique works. As the heavy odor of delicious spices fills the air, you feel like you’re sitting in a small country inn right in Bavaria. No pretense. This is not a hip “in-restaurant” that’s trying to blind you with its exceptional design. No. This place is timeless.
While the rocking horse above the entrance seems to be winking at us with one eye, manager and co-owner Sascha tells us about his youth in Germany’s South and how he wanted to become an architect when he was young. In consequence, he has taken the interior design into his own hands and created a restaurant whose simplicity immediately put a spell on us.
The food? Nothing short of spectacular. Chef Uri is an autodidact. After giving up on his Punk Band, he taught himself how to cook, started working at restaurants like Cracker’s and Soho House and kept on improving – by watching YouTube tutorials of Michelin-starred chefs. He then started creating his own culinary masterpieces and we would by lying if we said we’ve devoured a menu with more love of detail recently. At just 26 years, we’re sure Uri’s future will be bright, promising and most of all – tasty.
For starters we had poached egg with fennel, puree and sardines. What sounds like a relatively simple composition at first turned out to be a moderate stroke of genius. The egg and the puree were extremely rich in taste and perfectly rounded off by the delicious sauces. With every bite a subtle shudder of delight tingled down our necks. The main course took it further: moist and tender suckling pig, complimented by celery salad, apple and red cabbage. Again: the ingredients sound simple, but the result was a real mind blower. Just like the restaurant’s overall feel, the food is honest, appealing and wants to make you stay for hours, if not days.
As far as we’re concerned, we could eat through the menu all day every day. Definitely worth a visit! Or two! Or three! Or ten!
This month we interviewed swedish A-list celebrity Måns Herngren. He’s a famous movie director, produces his own tonic essence and was part of the winning team at the synchronised swimming World Championships in 2013. So technically he’s an A+++ celeb who swims super well.
Q: Hello Måns! You’re a man of many talents. Movie director, swimmer, tonic essence producer… How did you get to do all these things?
A: As my kids grew older, I suddenly found I had a lot of time. I’m a very curious person. Someday I wondered what tonic tasted like before it became the tonic we know today. How did it taste before the British brought it here from India? I did some research, read some books, and then somehow one thing lead to another.
Q: You’re also a famous TV and movie producer. How did that start?
A: I was a child actor when I was 10 and really started working in the TV business when I was 16, doing interviews and such. Sweden is a small country and back then, we only had two commercial channels. It was relatively easy to be on TV if you really wanted it. In the early 90s I moved over to doing movies, but ever since HBO kicked off the trend for high quality series about six or seven years ago, I’ve found my way back to TV. These days I’m working both on movies and TV series.
Q: For the past three years, you’ve been living in both Stockholm and Berlin. Why did you choose Berlin?
A: We filmed the ending of my movie Allt Flyterhere. That was when I found my love for Berlin – and for synchronized swimming.
Q: Not exactly a hobby that too many people share!
A: True. Allt Flyter is about a group of guys who become synchronized swimmers and attend the finals in Berlin. I didn’t want to use body doubles – which would have been hard to find anyway – so me and the actors started training together. Synrchonized swimming, once a week, for 6 months. Nothing helps bonding more than having someone else’s ass in your face while you’re underwater and almost naked. I’m still doing it every Wednesday.
Q: That sounds tempting. You’ve been commuting between Stockholm and Berlin for 3 years now. What does Berlin mean to you?
A: Berlin reminds me a lot of New York in the 80s. Things in New York have changed so much in the past 30 years, but they haven’t in Berlin. Total freedom of self-expression. Nobody cares if you go and buy breakfast in your joggers. A lot of people said that New Yorkers are inpolite and rude and they said the same about Berliners, but I’ve never experienced it that way.
Q: What was the craziest thing you experienced in Berlin?
A: I think I was the craziest thing that happened in Berlin!
Q: Stories! We want stories!
A: One time I was out having a fancy dinner with Henrik and my wife. I was dressed in a classy suit and to be honest I looked pretty snobbish. But someone Henrik managed to get us into Berghain at night. Don’t ask me how. When we got in, people looked at me like I was crazy. They wondered: Who’s that guy? How did he get in? It’s really hard to make people lift an eyebrow in Berlin, but somehow I managed.
Q: YES! Uhm.. I mean. Yes. You’re a man after our taste. What makes you happy, apart from gin and tonic?
A: With 50 years I’m quite old now. But five years ago I felt really, really old. What made me happy again was realizing that age is just a number. Some people say after 30, you don’t really meet a lot of new friends. But that’s not true. You just have to be open-minded and be open to the world and age won’t matter anymore. My wife and I started taking German lessons recently, so we could start talking with an old lady in our house who doesn’t speak English.
Q: Das ist wunderbar. Last question. What would you do if you had 10 million dollars?
A: I would buy a huge airplane and fly refugees over to Europe. It’s really embarassing how Europe is one of the strongest economies in the world and doesn’t help people in need. I’m really proud of Germany to be supporting the refugees. Together we can do it!
When you went to Neukölln at night just a few years ago you were either very brave, drunk or a Kung-Fu-Master. Parts of the district were declared No-Go areas by authorities. Too much crime. Too dangerous. Unless you know Kung-Fu, of course. With 160 different nations, a population of 160 000 and the highest unemployment rate in Germany, trouble was never far.
160 nations have found their master: gentrification. Neukölln now is a stronghold for trendy hipsters, emerging artists and everyone else who can’t afford a flat in Prenzlauer Berg of Friedrichshain (no offense). In short: Neukölln has become cool. Reuterkiez was the district’s coolness pioneer and still gets envious looks from up and coming Schillerkiez in eastern Neukölln. “You just wait!” they seem to whisper. “Soon we’ll be way cooler than you… you just wait. Gollum, Gollum!”
The inevitable Berlinagenten-question rises: where do the party hungry kids get their late night game on? Only one way to find out. We went off to an epic night of bar-hopping, meeting new faces and if absolutely forced to – punching new faces. Just kidding. We would never use our Kung-Fu skills too easily (but Neukölln still CAN be dangerous). The perfect street for bar-hopping is Weserstraße where taking three steps from one bar will already get you into the next one. These days people get absurdly drunk in the former No-Go area and have a great time together. Got to love Berlin.
First stop was the inconspicuous Fuchs & Elster Bar. As we sat down the waitress told us not to take pictures. “You’re from a blog? I don’t trust you!”. Do we look like we were from a blog that’s deliberately posting pictures of drunk people online?! Hmmm. Maybe not so far from reality. After a drink helped us get over the rejection, we genuinely enjoyed the diffuse orange light and Grandmother’s pieces of furniture scatted across the rooms. Cozy. There even is a small club playing Jazz tunes in the basement – but it was closed when we were there. Or maybe they just said that because we’re bloggers.
Next stop: Yuma Bar. When we came in two beardy guys sat at the atmospherically lit bar and sipped on Belgian beer…hold on. Belgian Beer? Yuma Bar is beer heaven. Beer specialities from all over the globe will get your world spinning in no time. Two beers later we made our excuses and headed over to a classic dark cocktail bar, basically consisting of a very long bar counter – Thelonius Bar. They boast special cocktails of the season – but apparently we came in between the seasons. Damn. Yuma and Thelonius used to belong to the same owners, but they got into a fight and split up. Like Westside story, only with drinks instead of love. But isn’t that the same in the end?
Pushing forwards, we made quick stops at Jungbusch and Russian Bar Kuschlowski – both bars boast a very laid back atmosphere and invite you to stay longer, but there was no stopping us. Two vodka shots for us and on we go, thank you very much.
One of the coolest bars definitely is Tier Bar, loved for it’s unique style and understatement. Tier’s interior is characterized by an elongated bar and a whole collection of old TVs stacked behind the bar. We met two charmingly tipsy London girls in the forerunner of trendy bars that already poured drinks before anyone dared to mouth the word “cool”in Neukölln. Our new friends Abby and Sarah ordered us some nasty drinks and not long after we opened a little dancefloor next to our table. Who needs a club anyway!
Drinking causes meat-cravings. There’s no better place to cure it than Beuster Bar, just a few doors down from Tier. Beuster Bar is the perfect blend of relaxed bar and culinary delights. While you’re surrounded by warm colors, dark wood tables and green flamed tiles, the Schnitzel isn’t just “okayish”, it’s heavenly. Maybe the alcohol helped that impression, but who cares. It’s always crowded, so don’t be like us. Do book a table in advance if you want to be sure to be seated.
From there Abby and Sarah led us to their favourite Bar in Weichselstraße – o.T. Bar und Projektraum, a mix between par and art space.It’s their favourite because they know the bartender and get the drinks cheap. Well, we don’t mind. Slowly but steady we get the feeling we need to dance some of that tipsiness away. Last stop before hitting the clubs was Velvet Bar,an edgy and rough place whose worst enemy is “decoration”.
So, where to move your dancing feet? In Neukölln the choice isn’t easy. While the legendary Keller (translates to “basement”- for a good reason) creates a real underground feeling and is well-loved for its unique ambience, the wonderfully intimate Schwuz is home to Berlin’s hottest gay parties and never disappoints. In the end we opted for Griessmühle,which offers Berlin’s unclouded open-minded party feeling of the early 2000s. No pretense, cool people, great atmosphere. We danced through a night of groovy techno beats, meeting beautiful people and in the end, we didn’t even have to use our Kung-Fu skills. Berlinagenten loves Neukölln.
Taipei is World Design Capital 2016! The city hasn’t turned up on many Western tourists’ radars…yet. As world wide trend hunters we packed our bags and hopped on a jet to the up and coming Asian metropolis to see what the buzz is all about.
Taipei sits in a mountainous basin at the Northern tip of Taiwan and is surrounded by a wonderfully green scenery, boasting several nationals parks and untouched nature. An economic boom in the 80s led to heavy urbanization and the constant extension of the city’s borders. In densely populated areas like Taipei, intelligent design is becoming key for an attractive, efficient and liveable environment. The Taiwanese, Chinese, Japanese and more recently Western influences combined with futuristic design-thinking and respect for the ancient Chinese roots create one of the most interesting travel destinations in Asia and have earned Taipei the title of World Design Capital.
The skyline is dominated by the mighty Taipei 101 skyscraper (508m) – wagging tongues suggest it looks like a huge stack of noodle boxes – but it’s not the only thing that makes the urban attractions stand out. Taipei is well known for its unique nightlife, boasting trendy bars and clubs, but also edgy night markets such as the famous Shilin Night Market where you’ll find anything from super delicious food to clothing and consumer goods. The blend of classic street eats and new restaurants is creating a buzz right now, and insiders already know that Taipei will be the next big foodie travel destination.
With a population of 7 million, Taipei boasts lots of distinctive districts. Our top pick #1 is Fujin Street, an 800m long road home to vintage stores, designer studios, trendy cafes, hip retail spots and multi-concept stores. Its beautiful gardens, artistic boutiques and lush atmosphere make it a laid back getaway area that’s easy to fall in love with.
Your dreams of time-travelling become reality on the quiet Dihua Street. No skyscrapers, no flashy advertisement displays. The colors, the buildings, the smell, the pace – everything takes you back to the beginning of the 20th century. Young enterpreneurs are creating a beautiful combination of past and modern influences. The cafes, restaurants and boutique shops blend in perfectly with charming antique attractions.
Where to start - Starting location: Daqiaotou (大橋頭) Metro Station, Exit 1 — or Shuanglian (雙連) Metro Station, Exit 2. Dadaocheng is located by the Danshui (Tamsui) river in the North-West part of Taipei.
Another must-visit is the hustling and bustling Da’an District. Da’an boasts upscale shopping centers, vibrant night markets and is one of the liveliest hoods in Taipei. With several sought-after universities in the district, you will find a young and hip crowd populating the numerous quirky cafes, clothing shops and of course the popular Tonghua Night Market and Yongkang Street where you’ll find some of the best street eats in Taipei. When it gets too busy for your taste, you can retreat to the evergreen Da’an Forest Park – Taipei’s version of Central Park. Learn more about Da’an here.
We also visited the beautiful Bopiliao Old Street in Taipei’s oldest district – Wanhua (more info about Wanhua). The street still retains the look it had 200 years ago and has been richly decorated by national and international artists. You’ll find a broad selection of stores here: a clock store, a knife shop, a taoist shrine, a tea room and a rice company to name just a few.
Where to start - go to the Longshan temple station. From there you can discover the area around Mengxia Park, along Guangzhou St and the narrow streets between Mengxia Park and Kunming Street.
The home of subculture and counterculture undisputedly is Wanhua’s Ximenting (read more) . It’s the perfect spot if you’re looking for alternative lifestyle. Street artists, magicians and dancers give a lively touch to the area that’s visited by several million people per month. There’s also a great selection of shops for alternative music, costumes, books, toys and anything else that’s off the mainstream. The district’s highlight is the magnificent Red House Theater built in 1908, where you’ll find an artists’ market on ground floor and live perfomances on the second floor.
Also known as the “Manhattan of Taipei”, the Xinyi District boasts important landmarks such as the City Hall, Taipei 101 and several flagship shopping malls. It’s definitely the place for all shopping crazy tourists and fashionistas. You can shop for days and it never gets boring!
A multi-functional place in a three-story building with a fashion market on the ground floor, and a cool restaurant on the top floor. The restaurant features Sichuan and Shanghai modern Chinese cuisine. It is like an old Shanghai supper club dolled up for modern-day Taipei. There is also a cosy caféand a trendy east/west fusion lounge bar on the second floor, complete with antique furniture.
RAW - Most talked about gourmet restaurant in Asia
In the Xinyi District, home to W Taipei, there pulses a neon current, creating a sanctuary where serenity meets energy. An endless stream of people, ideas and atmosphere. Woo Bar is one of the most happening bars in town. It’s the place to be see and be seen.
The successor of the famous Spark club is living up to its name. The atmosphere is electrifying and attracts a classy and refined crowd. What’s pleasant about that is you don’t have to party with drunk 18 year olds who just turned old enough to visit a club. Instead, expect to pop a lot of champagne bottles!
When you talk Shopping in Taipei it’s always the night markets that come to mind first. But in busy Da’an and Xinyi fashionistas will be delighted to find elegant shopping malls and high-end designer labels just waiting to clothe you for the night. The huge number and variety of shopping streets in Taipei has gained it a reputation as shopping mecca for tourists. Department stores, underground malls, night markets, shopping districts…you name it, it’s there.
Taipeis traditional night markets are where the soul of the city shows. The odors of soy, sesame and spices fill the air as you take a deep breath and open your eyes to a colourful world of food, people and twice as many promotional signs. The night markets open at 4 in the afternoon and often go well beyond midnight. It feels like a little carnival that’s taking place every night. The night markets aren’t only a great shopping destination for lower-priced clothing and food, they’re part of the cultural experience in Taipei.
Shilin Night Market (our top pick!)
Shilin is the biggest night market of them all. It may not be the most exclusive or cheapest one, but at least once you have to experience the waves of people shifting through the vidid streets while all of your senses are busy taking in the impressions. Shilin gives you the classic experience of a Taipei night market and should not be missed on your trip!
Nanjchang Night Market – less crowded and amazing food
Raohe Night Market – Taipei’s oldest night market, perfect for people watching
Shida Night Market – on of the coziest night markets
Ningxia Night Market – many local visitors, affordable food
Located in shopping and commerce hub Xinyi, Humble House is the pearl of the art and hospitality scene. Its interior designed by Hirsch Bedner Associates shows matt and mute tones to create a mix of hotel and art gallery with pieces such as Italian artist Paola Pivi’s Crazy Ball, installed in the hotel’s Italian restaurant. Guests can also lean back on the lush roof terrace and enjoy a mind blowing view on the Taipei 101 skyscraper. The rooms are simple, stylish and elegant and start at a cozy 26sqm, reaching up to 73sqm for the biggest suite.
W Taipei boasts cutting edge design and is the obvious choice for everyone who enjoys a creative and highly stylish environment. The dining options in the hotel are unbeaten – Woobar, Yen Chinese Restaurant and The Kitchen Table offer a combination of treats what will never make you leave the house again.
Quote is the perfect blend of design and boutique. With only 64 rooms it’s also a lot smaller than Humble House and W Taipei and creates a more intimate setting. Guests can enjoy food and drinks in luxurious opulence in the 333 Restaurant & Bar and the H.Q. Lounge.
French elegange meets Taipei’s Da’an district. Expect boutique service, luxurious design and modern amenities. With pieces by Dali, Warhol, Yin Sun and Gai Xiao Wu the hotel puts even art galleries to shame.
What Berlin is to the gay community in Europe, Taipei is to the gay community in Asia! Taipei is tolerant, open, progressive, same sex activity is legal and the city and has banned workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. Each year it hosts a massive gay pride parade, attracting more than 50.000 people to dive into Taipei’s welcome culture.
The most vibrant gay scene is centered in the Red House district. You’ll find more than 25 gay bars, shops and restaurants in close proximity, most of which have outdoor terraces and invite you to watch heavily muscled Taiwanese guys walk by.
Kenting – the Riviera of Taiwan
Not many people have heard about this paradise in Taiwan’s South, especially not in the Western world, but it has drawn some attention in international media during the shooting of Life of Pi. 75% of the movie was shot in Taiwan – for example the movie’s main scenes of the Pacific Ocean were shot from a former airport, the floating island was at Pingtung Banyan Park and the Mexican Beach was at Kenting Baisha Bay.
Kenting is the perfect getaway location if you’re looking for some tropical flair. With its evergreen forests, seaside cliffs and great beaches it’s Taiwan’s Capitol for leisure and quality time for locals and tourists alike. Kenting Baisha Bay is a private scenic spot and is less frequented as not all the tourists know how to find it. A shame, seeing that the white sand beach is embraced by spectacular coral reefs. Must-visit!
The one and only beach resort with direct access from hotel to the private beach (3 km long!). A bit old fashion with a very big capacity, but a beautiful setting with sunsets guaranteed to make you fall in love. The best about it? They even offer beach barbecue and a beach bar.
Gloria Manor is a mountain resort with stunning view of the Kenting bay and offers pleasant privacy in a lush surrounding. The design is very sleek and the hotel is not missing any facilities if you are getting bored. Fine dining restaurant, bistro & cafe, bar, library, spa and a huge pool are at your service.
For more information about cool Taipei, check the following links!
A long time has passed since our last Red Carpet report! It was hard to choose from all the events we attended, but we’ve chosen a little selection of interesting events. Berlinagenten is back, baby!
Fashion Week Berlin
Every winter Berlin turns into one big fat catwalk that every aspiring fashionista, paparazzi and blogger in the city wants to be invited to! We kicked off the week of glamour and fashion at the luxurious Versace Store Opening on Kudamm, sipping on outrageously delicious cocktails as Vogue’s editor in chief Christiane Arp and Germany’s Next Topmodel winner Sara Nuru were constantly chased by a horde of eager paparazzis.
The Porsche Design night at Tausend Bar wasn’t any less spectacular. Porsche Design turned elegance and precision into an exquisite collection. The athletic touch gives their clothes a distinctive look that was hugely applauded by the audience.
Heading over to Matthias Maus Mbrilliant night at Felix club we found the event was hugely sought after and attracted a crowd of curious onlookers and high nosed fashion snobs alike. The latest trend: when the models enter the catwalk and you’re in the front row, quickly look at your phone and make a point of being too cool to look at the dresses.
The NMGMT Night at Apartment Bar on top of Amano Grand Central was a welcome change to the catwalks – all the movers, shakers, and leading players from the international fashion & beauty scene got their party game going. Less fashion, more dancing! Berlin demands it!
Erika Lust at Berlinale
When Erika Lust invited us to the theatrical screening of her feministic approach to grown-up movies, how could we have said no! Who hasn’t dreamt of watching classy porn with 400 people on the big screen? With crystal-clear images, high production standards and user-committed storylines her project xconfessions.com sure stands out from the rest of the industry. After making it through the few two movies, it sure wasn’t only her project that was standing out. Crazy experience, but if it fits anywhere, it’s in Berlin!
Weyde Club Business Opening
When the world famous Berghain architects design a new techno club in Berlin, the expectations are bound to be high. Located in Schöneweide, Weyde Club’s business opening left us with mixed feelings, though. With electricity cables sticking out of the walls, a somewhat cocky entertainer to greet us and a DJ who didn’t do anything but press play, we found the most enjoyable part of the evening was when we left and were presented with a flashy UBS stick. That is one marvellous stick, though.
Vaudeville at Tipi is where the ghost of Berlin’s roaring twenties meets the open minded Berlin of 2016. Producer Sheila Wolf adds new dimensions to classy Burlesque shows by featuring thrilling Boylesque und Queerlesque performances, complimented by outstanding artistic acts and carbaret adventures. The third edition was completely sold out – but the show that Berlinagenten isn’t invited to has yet to be invented. We lived through a night of flowing champagne and perfomances, sometimes wildly funny, sometimes dazzling, sometimes plain sexy. We can’t wait for number four!
When Soho House launches a new project, you can be sure it’s going to be good. Especially if it includes hand-made pasta and a selection of Italy’s tastiest temptations. With an open kitchen, marble floor, wood oven and an outside terrace, newly opened restaurant Cecconi’s is the perfect addition to Berlin’s Soho House. It’s located right next to The Store on ground level – you can go from shopping to coffee to culinary treats in split seconds. A-celebs from all over the world are regulars at Soho House, so be ready for some potential star-spotting.
Amano’s latest addition to the Capitols flourishing hotel scene makes for a cozy getaway location in the heart of Berlin. The opening event revealed a chiq boutique hotel, also home to the world famous Gin&Tonic Bar. Apart from the mind blowing view on Berlin’s skyline form the roof terrace, Hotel Zoe creates a luxurious and stylish ambience with dark contrasts and warm lightning. It’s both eye-candy and feel-good oasis without feeling pretentious. The opening event proved that the re-opening of Gin&Tonic Bar in Hotel Zoe was a splendid idea. We’ll definitely be back soon!
We’re not exaggerating when we claim we know what’s cool in Berlin. As true Berlinagenten it’s our job to know – and to find out. The scene is always changing and new trends emerge faster in Berlin than people get rejected at Berghain on a Saturday night. Every day we’re roaming Berlin’s streets with our coolness radar in hands and wait until it violently starts beeping. We offer the same service to companies with our specially tailored Cool Hunting Tours.
When Procter&Gamble‘s Japan division asked us to be their hunting-partners in crime, we couldn’t say no! Of course P&G is especially interested in finding Berlin’s hairy trends. Viktor Leske’s contemporary hair saloons are what’s hot right now – they offer a minimal, sleek design that goes perfectly with the typical Berlin understatement.
In the Bikini mall our customers didn’t only hunt trends, they became trend setters. At LNFA Concept Store they were to choose their own set of super trendy clothing and experienced what it’s like to be a model first hand. Each and everyone became part of a cool photo shooting and we looked like a kinky group of Kreuzberg fashionistas when the photos were shot.
The coolest part of the day was our session in the world’s smallest club on the RAW premises. If you toss in a coin in on old telephone cell, a disco ball appears, lights start flashing, party music starts playing and smoke machines do the rest to create an instant party atmosphere. Some things only exist in Berlin…