As much as I’m embarrassed to admit it, traveling kind of stresses me out. It isn’t necessarily the travel itself I find overwhelming, but the planning and inevitable feeling that I have to “fit” everything in. As a homebody, I’m quite content staying at home and I find a sunny, warm day spent gardening — followed by a wonderful meal — quite relaxing on its own. But after reading through Ilenia’s guide to Berlin and gawking at her photos, I found myself at ease, checking my passport and daydreaming of a trip there.
Ilenia Martini was born and raised just outside of Rome, Italy. Growing up, her passion for photography was encouraged by her parents, and, after studying in London at Middlesex University, she moved to New York to further her career. But it wasn’t long before her European roots began to pull her back overseas. Just over a year ago, she made the leap again and now finds herself in beautiful Berlin where she works as an Art Director for Hem. Her guide is short, sweet and simple, and focuses on just enjoying, which is right up my alley. –Sabrina
I love living in Berlin, even though I never officially decided to move here — it all happened without a plan and I rolled with it quite happily! I arrived here from Brooklyn over a year ago, and I was instantly drawn to the creative energy surrounding the city. I settled in the Prenzlauer Berg almost immediately. The neighborhood is filled with stunning architecture, beautifully restored 1950s buildings, quiet little streets, adorable coffee shops and independent artisanal bodegas.
I’m sure Berlin has plenty of amazing places to stay, but I personally love the 25Hours Hotel Bikini Berlin. It’s a design concept hotel located in Charlottenburg right next to the Berlin Zoo, entirely designed by German furniture designer Werner Aisslinger. It’s the perfect combination of city vibes and wilderness. Overall great atmosphere.
And don’t forget to have breakfast at the Woodfire Bakery!
Walk around Mitte, the architecture is just too beautiful to miss! You can see Berlin from above at the TV Tower. A favorite historical walk is the Oberbaum Bridge that connects Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg, neighborhoods formerly divided by the wall. If it’s warm enough, go for a boat ride on the Spree — it’s quite fun; relax sipping wine and enjoy the views accompanied with some Berlin history. And if it’s summer, take a swim in one of the hundreds of beautiful Berlin lakes!
Paper and Tea (Mitte): They literally have all the paper and tea goods you can imagine!
Silo Store (Prenzlauer Berg) is a small independent shop with select handcrafted goods made in Spain.
Do you read me (Mitte) is a small paradise for international magazine lovers and, oh, don’t get intimidated by the unfriendly-looking staff, it’s just appearance!
Schoemig Porzellan (Prenzlauer berg) is a Berlin-based independent ceramic artist. I love walking into the store, which is also the artist’s workshop. Her beautiful and minimal designs are impeccable.
Westberlin (Kreuzberg) is a beautiful and bright coffee and media shop. The interiors are the perfect combination of minimal mid-century classic pieces with modern wood structures. Amazing coffee and atmosphere. It’s my daily go-to coffee place!
No Fire No Glory (Prenzlauer Berg) has an amazing space, great to sip coffee outdoors. Danish blends and friendly staff make for a pleasant treat, also nice for the days in which you need to work.
Bonanza Coffee (Prenzlauer Berg) is so small that you need to fight for a seat, but the coffee is really good. I’d say it’s a must for coffee lovers.
Silo Coffee (Friedrichshain) has wonderfully cozy interiors, a delicious brunch menu and international magazines for customers.
Si An (Prenzlauer Berg) is a cozy Vietnamese restaurant. Their daily specials are always wonderful and a must-try is their Mango panna cotta.
Neni (Charlottenburg) is the restaurant in the 25Hours Hotel Bikini Berlin. A combination of culinary influences from Persia, Morocco, Turkey and Spain, where the concept is to try a “little bit of everything.” Great food and an astonishing view of Berlin.
Aunt Benny (Friedrichshain) is a cute coffee shop with a cozy atmosphere, perfect for brunch or sandwiches and I love all their gluten-free dessert options! Bring a book and enjoy their warm gluten-free apple crumble with ice cream, you’ll want to go back!
Salumeria Lamuri (Kreuzbers) is a quaint little Italian restaurant entirely decorated as a 1960s bistro from Milan. Homemade pasta dishes, salads and paninis.