Ah, January. In the midst of resolutions, “new year new me” challenges, soon-to-be-unused gym memberships, food comas and hangovers… the aftermath of the festive period can be quite depressing; it’s cold, it’s wet, and summer has never felt further away. Fear not! Here at KOMPAS we have your back and have put together our suggestions of where to spend the year’s most despised month, in Berlin.
Turn your January Blues into January brews, chews, and oohs.
Closest Metro: U Weinmeisterstrabe
Get cosy this January in the intimate Shiori, a Japanese “chef’s table” experience. Seating only 10 each evening, Japanese chef Shiori Arai – with assistance from his Korean partner Flora Choi – delight guests with an incredible evening of impeccably served and scrumptious dishes. Served in the Kaiseki style, the skills required to prepare these dishes were passed down from Shiori’s father, himself having run a Kaseki-style restaurant in Japan for 30 years. The style is set-menu (€70), drawing on four traditional cuisines: C9th Imperial Court, C12th Buddhist temple, C14th Samurai household, and C15th tea ceremony. Kaseki translates as “bosom-pocket stone”, after the warm stones that Zen monks would place in the front of their robes to stave off hunger. Luckily, with the 10-12 courses you will be presented with, this won’t be an issue. Hyper-seasonal, expect every dish to excel in taste, texture, colour, and appearance, while everything can be washed down with a healthy dose of Sake, imported directly from a brewery in Japan. With the whole operation run by Shiori and Choi, timing is key and if you are late for the precise 19:30 start, you will not be allowed to catch up. This mix of conviviality and good food should surely stave off the blues?
Closest Metro: Mollstr./Otto-Braun-Str.
Escape January by disappearing into Wonderland. Where drinks meet design, Fairytale Bar will help you get your Happily Ever After. Near to its namesake fountain – the locals call it the fairytale fountain – it’s almost as if you’ve walked into the mind of Tim Burton. Note: entrance is only granted once you’ve rung the bell…
Follow the White Rabbit down to the bar where staff – bedecked in thematic costume – are ready to help you forget the bitter winter with their array of ridiculously strong cocktails. Just beware standing too close to the giant map…(you’ll see why when you go.) Sit amongst hookah-smoking caterpillars, magically-lit mirrors, and cabinets of curiosities, with some areas cordoned off with curtains for a little added privacy.
Drinks are thematically named, and if you’re a bit of a drama queen order the Cinderella: premium vodka, elderflower, and champagne, served out of a glass shoe. Old Cinders would be proud.
Cafe Cutie Pie
Closest Metro: Görlitzer Bahnof
After weeks of over-indulgence and cold weather, your immune system may have taken a battering. Welcome the dreaded cold! Before that first sniff head over to Café Cutie Pie for a mug of their warm Dutch aniseed milk, a great cure for the common cold. Another way to fight it is to feed it, so grab a Panini or heartening soup while you sit back in one of their vintage market-found chairs. Be confident in those that serve you also, for every member of staff goes through a rigid recruitment test: the tomato-cutting test. New recruits are handed a knife and a tomato and should they succeed in cutting even slices without squashing it, they’re in. Bored? Sign up to one of their barista courses so you can always have perfect coffee to hand.
Closest Metro: Schleisches Tor
If you were a dignitary in 1960s Paris looking for a good time, then you’d give Madame Claude a call. Running one of the most exclusive brothels in Paris, rumour had it that Madame had also worked as a spy for the French Resistance during the German occupation of France. It is for this reason that when a reformed old brothel in Kreuzberg was being turned into a bar, there was only one name to call it: Madame Claude. Yes the cocktails may be strong, but your eyes are not deceiving you, there is actually furniture attached to the ceiling. Adding to the alternative nightlife Berlin is famed for, there is live music and DJ-led dancing every night of the week, as well as a very popular music quiz every Wednesday to cheer you up on those long and cold January nights.
Closest Metro: Hanastr./Malchower Weg
When you’re feeling the January Blues most acutely, disregard any of the above suggestions and head straight for Barista Cats (unless, of course, you’re allergic, in which case just visit their feel-good Instagram page). There is no better cure to being low than playing with cute animals. Boasting a 200m2 green outdoor area for patrons and cats alike to enjoy, the café offers attractive and delicious treats: from cakes to pizza, along with hot cups of coffee or homemade lemonade, all this can be enjoyed while in the company of cuddly cats all proud of their titles: Mokka the “Little One”, Mateo the “Escapee”, Marzipan the “Cuddlebear”, Muffin the “Lady”, Mochi the “Fluffball”, and Kami the “Playful”. With stories as different as their personalities, these cats are ready to welcome you.
Christmas Garden Berlin
Closest Metro: U-Bhg Rathaus Steglitz
“As the twilight falls, the magic begins…” Already missing the festive decorations of Christmas past, sad that you’ve got to wait another year until everywhere is highlighted with fairy lights? Then head to Berlin’s Botanical Garden before the 6th January to walk amongst millions of colourful lights and 3D installations. Enjoy a relaxing and enchanting stroll along the 1.5km track where you will be able to rest in front of cosy fireplaces with local treats, or take a spin on the stunning ice rink.
Closest Metro: Bhf. Möckernbrücke
January Blues leaving you wanting to just curl up in the warm and take leave of your senses? Strip off and hop in the warm salt water thermal bath at Liquidrom; one of four nude saunas at this urban bathing centre, shut your eyes, lean back, and relax, letting the underwater music take you away to that special place. Watch as the steam rises up to the oculus in the middle of the lofty domed ceiling, letting in moonlight for an eerily calming experience. The centre also offers a Japanese-inspired outdoor hot water bathing area, as well as Swedish style sauna. Aromatic infusions are pumped into each area, leaving every one of your senses catered for. Even the minimalist architecture – modelled on a circus tent nonetheless – is relaxing. If you want to spice things up a bit, Liquidrom also often host live music and DJ nights, with their “Chill and Float” nights being amongst the most popular.
Tropical Islands Resort
Nearest Metro: Brand Tropical Islands
If you’re fed up of winter and find yourself longing for that summer holiday, curb the craving with a visit to the Tropical Islands Resort, just down the A13 autobahn. Built within the former Brand-Briesen Airfield – originally constructed for the development of the Luftwaffe – this is the largest free-standing hall in the world, ultimately making for the largest indoor waterpark in the world. With the air temperature at a consistent 26 0C, why waste money on flights when you can visit a rainforest and beach all in one day and drive home to your own bed after?! There are a number of swimming pools, bars, and restaurants, all situated in a verdant paradise of tropical plants (over 50,000 to be precise.) Influences are taken from traditional island buildings from Thailand, Borneo, Samoa, and Bali, while the “sea” is designed to look like waters from a coral island. As if that isn’t enough, there is a sauna and spa, inspired by Elephanta Island in India and the Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia, as well as a whitewater river (Germany’s longest) for the thrill seekers amongst you. Make a proper holiday out of it and stay either in one of their tropical lodges or rainforest tents.