Destination: Germany: Berlin
Eastern Berlin: Mitte's August & Mulakstrasse
The area around the Hackesche Höfe is a great neighborhood where shops, galleries and cute restaurants and cafés converge, making for a fun afternoon of exploration. The best shopping streets are Alte and Neue Schönhauser Strassen, Steinstrasse, Mulakstrasse, Torstrasse and Auguststrasse. Some favorites boutiques include Lala, C’est Tout, RSVP, Schwarzhogerzeil and Konk, but new ones are constantly opening, so it’s really an area where it’s best to wander as opposed to stoically following a list. Taking a break is easy with such spots as Clärchens Ballhaus, The Barn, Café Oliv, Eismanufaktur and Barcomis nearby.
Eastern Berlin: Mitte's Hackesche Höfe
Really trendy shoppers grumble that the Hackesche Höfe, a series of eight interconnected courtyards, have become too commercial, expensive and touristy, but for one-stop shopping for local finds they are great fun. First of all, there’s the Art Nouveau grandeur of the courts themselves, especially the beautiful façade of the first courtyard covered in glazed blue tiles. Shops include fashion, accessories, food and art, all locally designed and made (in some cases by artisans who are sitting in their ateliers at the back of the shops). Don’t miss Hoffnung, an incredible leather emporium in Courtyard 4, Freitag, a whimsical shop dedicated to all-things (fashionable) rain wear in Courtyard 5 and Promobo (shop.promobo.de), a great collective of artisans that carries everything from trendy fashion to gorgeous leather bags. The entrance to Promobo is in Courtyard 3 and 5. After a shopping spree here, exist the Höfe on the Sophienstrasse side and have a coffee at Barcomi’s. Entrance on: Rosenthaler Strasse 40/41 & Sophienstrasse 6
Western Berlin: Charlottenburg
The area around the Kurfürstendamm, known as Ku’Damm, has some of the city’s most upscale shops. They are not as conveniently located all in the same condensed neighborhood, like some of the shopping in Mitte, but if you are patient, you can make some good finds here. Indagare contributor Tiffany Schauer recommended the vintage shops of Mommsenstrasse during a recent trip, and it’s worth seeking out the sleek flagship of German designer Jil Sander on Ku’Damm. KaDeWe (Kaufhaus des Westens), is Berlin’s version of the Galeries Lafayette or Harvey Nichols. You won’t find anything that novel in the fashion, accessories and beauty floors, but it’s worth exploring the immense culinary offerings on the sixth floor. As someone who has explored food courts in New York, Tokyo and Paris, I didn’t think I would be impressed, but KaDeWe holds its own with the best: the chocolate section alone is worth the journey (you can pick up fabulous gourmet gifts here) and the seventh floor café, with an enormous window overlooking the city, is a good place for a bite and drink to refuel.
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