Berlin is undoubtedly one of the world's most eclectic cities. Home to some of the planet's greatest clubs and record stores, Berlin has something for everyone. With so much to see and do, no two people's experience will be the same. This time, our guide is Ben Rau, one of the city's finest house DJs. How does one stay sane in such a wild city? Outside of music, Ben is a keen cyclist, meditates and practices yoga. He's also had quite a year with his labels Inkal and Meta, as well as huge success with his YouTube videos and Beatport Top 100 releases. For another side of Berlin, check out Nakadia's guide here.
Words and photos by Ben Rau
We all like a good drink, so where are the top spots to head to before a night out?
My favourite bar in Berlin is called the Würgeengel which translated means "the strangling Angel" it's a strange name for a bar but it is a really classy place. There is lots of red velvet and it’s slightly divey in a charming way with a beautiful art deco interior.
The place serves up amazing cocktails and the service is really on point, very old school, the bar and waiting staff are dressed very well and take pride in their jobs. Also, for those that like to smoke the odd cigarette only when they drink, you can order single cigarettes. They serve great bar food too and a favourite of mine is the antipasti platter. Another favourite is Nathanja & Heinrich in Neukölln , it's a typical Berlin Bar and every chair is different, nothing matches but it all adds to the charm. Oh and great cocktails here too.
Where can you find the best clubs / late-night venues in town?
The Area around Schlesisches Tor to Ostbahnhof is the clubbing Bermuda Triangle where you can lose yourself, the two main spots are Watergate and Berghain. At Watergate you can see the biggest names like Sven Vath, Marco Carola or Carl Cox it's the only club in Berlin that books the biggest names. Berghain is much more curated and although you get some very big names among their residents the emphasis is more on curated lines ups that mix lesser-known acts with much bigger artists.
I don't really have to tell you about Berghain everyone knows the stories. Pro-tip go on a Sunday morning around 10 am no queues and you don't really have to wear black that has become such a cliche now and it's a bit boring, to be honest.
Brunches are a weekend staple, which spots stand out to you?
Roamers is the place to go for the best brunch in Berlin really healthy but mega tasty. I think Berlin lacks good places for great Brunch and it's often people from outside of Germany that do the best spots. Another favourite is Silo Coffee in Friedrichshain I think the owners are Australian and you can tell by their attention to detail the food is awesome!
Best dirty late-night street food option?
Berlin has a lot of Indian restaurants most of which are terrible, I used to have to go to London to get a curry fix but now I’ve found a place that is really decent. Singhs Indian Street food is a spot I recently discovered and it really is authentic. Most people would go to Burgermeister just across the road from Singh's for a late-night snack and the queues are ridiculous but I don't eat meat so my choice is usually a chickpea curry.
Where can we shop for records and music memorabilia in Berlin?
Space Hall in Kreutzberg is one of the best-known record shops with a great selection of new and old stuff, it's a diggers paradise. These days I prefer to dig online but I know a lot of people still savor the record shopping experience and if you do Space Hall is the place for you.
Your Sunday escape plan when you need to get away from it all?
I like to go swimming in the summer preferably in one of Berlin's many lakes. My favourite lake is a bit outside of Berlin as you have to go to Bernau by train which takes about 45 minutes then it's another 30 minutes on the bike till you get to the Liepnitzsee. The lake has turquoise blue water and is crystal clear, it really is a gem and because it's a bit further out usually not overcrowded.
Something everyone should do when visiting Berlin, but probably hasn’t?
Check out Museum Island. Berlin is so much more than clubs, and you get a great variety of museums that are worth a visit Museum island as the name says is an island in the middle of the river Spree with lot's of Museums on it go check it out!
What are other great exports that come from Berlin?
Isaac Hayes Theme of Shaft was the soundtrack to my mornings when I was a little boy my dad used to play it to me before we went off to Kindergarten every day. I loved it, my dad had a great taste in music and loved Jazz, I guess that set me on the path I am today.