Carly Sharples


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Why The Michelberger Hotel is the Coolest Place to Stay in Berlin

Why The Michelberger Hotel is the Coolest Place to Stay in Berlin

Berlin pulsates a understated coolness unparalleled by any other city on earth.

It's no secret that Berlin holds the keys to my heart. I was born and brought up in the city, and try and head back at least once a year to get my fix. What can I say? I'm a Berlin junkie.

Michelberger Hotel Berlin

Why choose the Michelberger Hotel?

We opted to stay at the Michelberger Hotel {Warschauerstraße 39-40, Berlin} on our most recent trip as, stunning aesthetics aside, I really identified with their ethos.

When you research a hotel beforehand and see they have a dedicated post to their housekeeping team, personalising the otherwise hidden world of running a hotel, naming them all and telling their stories (including the 9 housekeepers out of 10 who come from the same village in Poland and make a four hour round trip to come to work!), you can see that ethics are instilled at every level and their brand concept is not something simply dreamed up by PRs as a selling point. 

Let’s learn from the past and let it be over. A planet without borders, needs transparent leadership and transparent systems. Let’s start where we can. In our little creative Berlin. Let’s not fake it. Let’s start with ourselves, humble, excited and open, with fresh thinking... Instead of repeating the past re-packaged in our fresh hipster outfits.
— Michelberger Hotel
Michelberger Hotel Lobby

It is an achingly hip hotel, yet remarkably unpretentious at the same time.

It doesn't pitch itself at an 'exclusive' clientele, or even at the creatives that frequent it, stating that "exclusivity is weird if it excludes people".

I mean, we are just two country bumpkins from Lincolnshire, but we didn't feel out of place!

The hotel recognises that every individual has that spark of creativity within, and what fun would it be if we were all the same, anyway? We are all artists wandering through life.

Ticking all the boxes? Well The Michelberger is not for you.
— The Michelberger
Michelberger Hotel Courtyard Entrance

It's about a half hour taxi ride from Schönefeld Airport to the Michelberger Hotel, which will cost you roughly €30. Or if you opt for the S-bahn from the airport (like we did) then get off at Warschauer Straße, the hotel is pretty much in front of you as you come out of the station.

First impressions...

Unlike most hotels, where you walk straight into an imposing lobby, at the Michelberger you actually enter the lounge area of the bar before reaching the reception.

We'd booked a Cosy room, but upon arrival discovered we'd been upgraded to a Loft room instead. We were offered a complimentary can of their eponymous Fountain of Youth elixir, but coconut water makes me dry heave so we gave it a miss...

I noticed that The Big Lebowski was playing on the TV in the hallway, and then was still playing the next day, and the one after that. Turns out it is on a loop - just one more quirky feature to make me smile. 

Michelberger Hotel Loft Room
Michelberger Hotel Loft Room Bed

The room was deceptively spacious and incredibly well laid out with lots of quirky design touches. The overall vision for the hotel was created in partnership with renowned furniture designer Werner Aisslinger, who has collaborated with Vitra and recently worked on the interior design of the Bikini Hotel Berlin

I'd never seen a macrame toilet roll holder before I stayed at the Michelberger, but let me tell you - I want one for my own bathroom at home now! It had a mirror suspended by ropes, oodles of ply, concrete floors, Orla Kiely toiletries and a kind of authentic flea market vibe... all without looking too shabby.

Michelberger Hotel Lighting

We had been left champagne and cake to enjoy so we got stuck into that straight away (because, birthday) whilst enjoying the hotel's own podcast tunes via the TV.

The building itself is a converted former factory, so as you can imagine the rooms are blessed with high ceilings, adding to the sense of overall space, and the bed was on a floating mezzanine above.

The mattress was HUGE and featured two separate duvets, as is normal in Germany. This was an epiphany to me a few years back - no more fighting over the duvet in the small hours... this is a practice I will be adopting chez Sharples when our current {king size} duvet reaches the end of its life!

There were lights, plug sockets and USB ports on the mezzanine so there was no disorientating fumble to switch the lights off before navigating a wooden staircase back up in the darkness.

My mother-in-law, who was looking after the children for the weekend, commented: "Oh, you could have taken them with you - look, there's three little hammocks for them!" :)

My mother-in-law, who was looking after the children for the weekend, commented: "Oh, you could have taken them with you - look, there's three little hammocks for them!" :)

That first night we didn't head out for something to eat until gone 10pm, but the Michelberger is so well located that you'll never struggle to find somewhere to eat or drink at any time of day or night.

After our preprandial cake and bubbles, we didn't fancy anything heavy so we walked ten minutes over the Oberbaumbrücke from Friedrichshain into Kreuzberg and found ourselves at the ultimate Schnellimbiß: Burgermeister {Oberbaumstraße 8; weekdays 1100-0300, weekends 1200-0400}.

Burgermeister is a legendary burger joint housed in a former public toilets which sit underneath the S-bahn tracks at Schlesisches Tor, where two utterly delicious Meisterburgers and cheesy chips will only set you back about €12.

Burgermeister at Schlesisches Tor - a former public toilet now offers the best burgers in Berlin!

Burgermeister at Schlesisches Tor - a former public toilet now offers the best burgers in Berlin!

History right on the doorstep...

We wandered back over the Oberbaumbrücke with full bellies, appreciating the randomised neon installation of 'Stein-Papier-Schere' {rock-paper-scissors} by visual artist Thorsten Goldberg directly in the centre of the bridge, where a former checkpoint between East (Friedrichshain) and West (Kreuzberg) Berlin during the Wall years of 1961 - 1989 once stood.   

Oberbaumbrücke Berlin

This is particularly poignant when you consider that in the shadow of Oberbaumbrücke was where a five year old boy, Cetin Mert, drowned on his fifth birthday in 1975 after trying to retrieve a wayward football and falling into the Spree (controlled and policed by East Berlin).

Onlookers and emergency services were unable to enter the river to rescue the boy, lest they be shot by East German border guards. After an hour of frantic negotiations, an East German patrol boat finally arrived; only to recover Cetin Mert's lifeless body just a few metres from the riverbank.

Even then, the body was not handed over to his family in Kreuzberg but instead taken to an East Berlin hospital, where it remained for four days before eventually being transferred back to the West. 

Goldberg's installation on the Oberbaumbrücke is a thought-provoking symbol of the sheer futility of the Berlin Wall and the zero sum Cold War mindset, combined with the arbitrary nature of war in general. 

Michelberger Hotel

A home from home...

On a lighter note... we headed back to the hotel bar, which by that point was buzzing with cool, hipster types.

There was a live DJ who seemed to forego his turntables in favour of a laptop and a solitary multicoloured disco ball - honestly, he looked like he was dancing to a tune in his head so that kept us entertained for a while - as did the two cocktails recommended to us by the bar staff that knocked our socks off.

Many of the cocktails on the menu contained the Michelberger's very own herbal schnapps concoctions: Forest or Mountain, and there's handily a miniature bottle of each in your room for you to savour at your leisure, or bring home with you as a souvenir, like we did. 

Michelberger Hotel Lounge

The lounge was still buzzing when we headed off to bed, although not raucously so; people working on their laptops, having a drink with friends or just curled up on one of the sofas reading one of the books from the abundantly stocked shelves.

Our room was peaceful and quiet, and we didn't hear any noise from the bar or public transport, despite our room overlooking Warschauerstraße itself. We were only half a mile from the hallowed floors of Berghain nightclub, but y'know (a) we have zero nocturnal stamina after spending the last thirteen years raising tiny humans and value our sleep too much on trips away, (b) I would hate to brave a bumbag and nylon outfit for the first time in 25 years only to be told "bye, Felicia!" by Sven {read more about the notorious Berghain bouncer here}.

But, hey - if that floats your boat then go right ahead... and perhaps, next time, I might just try myself!

Michelberger Hotel Bar
Michelberger Hotel Bar Area

The next morning, we were able to appreciate the hotel in the natural daylight. Our room had a massive picture window which was perfect for watching the world go by. We got ready and then walked to Fine Bagels {Warschauerstraße 74; open Mon-Sat 0800-2000, Sun 0900 - 2000} for a light breakfast and cappuccino before setting off for the day.

On the way out, the hotel asked us if we'd like to book the sauna in the courtyard... but being prudish Brits, we declined this offer. I mean, what was one even supposed to wear to the sauna? It was January - it's not like I'd packed my bikini! Now if their twice weekly yoga class {Monday PM / Thursday AM; free for guests} had been on during our sojourn, then that's a different matter! I'd have been all over that bad boy...

Speaking of the courtyard, as well as the aforementioned sauna, the space doubles up as a beer garden and informal, intimate concert venue {Bon Iver recently gigged here}. It's a beautiful space; the old cream and green tiles reminded me of those in the Refuge restaurant at The Principal in Manchester.

I'd imagine it's such a vibrant place to hang out of an evening when it is just a tad warmer, perhaps? 

Michelberger Hotel Courtyard
Michelberger Hotel Courtyard Tiles

Capture the essence of Berlin as soon as you step outside...

Coming out of the hotel and turning right, literally outside is one of the ubiquitously famous Photoautomat booths if you're in the mood for a good, old fashioned selfie noir.  Just a minute further and you are greeted with the East Side Gallery - a 1.3km stretch of surviving Berlin Wall which is now the longest open-air art gallery in the world, offering urban art and history both in one fell swoop.

You can find iconic murals like Dmitri Vrubel's "Fraternal Kiss" which features Brezhnev and Honecker snogging, and "La Trabant" by Birgit Kinder portraying the archetypal East German cardboard car busting through the Berlin Wall.

I've always found the East Side Gallery quite busy in the day, especially in the summer months, so I would highly recommend visiting of an evening when the crowds die down, or perhaps visit really early in the morning if you're after some captured snaps with more ambient lighting. 

The Wall Museum

We actually turned left out of the hotel and meandered along Warschauerstraße until it intersected with Karl Marx Allee. This boulevard is a bombastic display of the finest Stalinist architecture I have seen outside of Moscow.

We walked everywhere on this trip, covering over 40 miles in 48 hours (I've lost my big toenail to prove it!) but again, the U and S-bahn station and tram spot is directly opposite the hotel if you'd prefer. Note that the trams only run in the former East Berlin, so if you're venturing further then hop on the train instead. And, if you're feeling particularly adventurous, the hotel offers Berlin-made bikes by Rakete available to hire!

Michelberger Hotel Do Not Disturb

Eat, sleep, play, repeat...

On Sunday we opted to eat breakfast at the hotel.

I say breakfast, but I really mean brunch.

Sunday brunch is taken very seriously by Berliners and there seemed to be a mix of hotel guests and local patrons in the restaurant that morning. It was very hygge in vibe, with candles flickering and soft, ambient lighting. They didn't have any English Breakfast tea, but they did have freshly brewed filter coffee from The Barn, so I guess I can forgive them for that mortal sin ;)

Michelberger Hotel Brunch
Michelberger Hotel Brunch Restaurant

Brunch itself was hearty and filling, with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. The restaurant was lovely and relaxed and the decor just gave me all the heart eyes.

Tiling, raw wood, muted colours... drool.

The toilets downstairs gave me a giggle - one labelled with a "Boyz II Men" album cover, the other with "Spice Girls" - I guess you were just supposed to go in the one you identified with most? How very millennial. 

Michelberger Hotel Hygge Brunch

Tom Michelberger once commented to The Guardian that the hotel is a celebration of the roughness of the city. And I'd have to agree. If a hotel could epitomise the very essence and vibe of a city, then the Michelberger is a perfect microcosm of Berlin itself.

Try it out on your next trip to Berlin - you won't be disappointed.

Carly xo

Enjoy this post? Check out my other German city guides: Nuremberg, Hamburg and a Berlin coffee guide!



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