We had a distinct feeling of déjà vu when we arrived at our apartment rental in Berlin in Prenslauer Berg. It was our Krakow arrival all over again. We’d just spent another ten hours on a train – the heating and electricity off for part of the trip – and we were tired and a little cranky, and like Krakow we had to haul our luggage up the stairs to our fifth floor apartment. But that’s where the resemblances stopped.
Seconds after we pressed the buzzer, the friendly owners appeared downstairs to greet us, help us with our bags, and show us around the apartment. And what a chic, spacious and cosy apartment it is. Despite brutally cold temperatures outside and a foot of snow on the balcony it was nice and toasty inside.
Thoughtfully renovated, the place is decorated in a black and white minimalist style with eclectic touches, from baroque to Bauhaus: a gilded mirror and black crystal chandelier in the bathroom; chrome retro lighting, clocks and furniture throughout; a jagged mirror in the living room; polished floorboards, padded bed-head… it shouldn’t work together, but somehow it all does.
Shots of the property before its’ recent renovation, discretely hidden behind the doors to some of the rooms, demonstrate the care that has gone into restoring the property.
Despite one of the owners saying that hardly any guests had used the kitchen they had put so much thought into designing (probably because there are scores of restaurants in the neighbourhood and a dozen alone in the street), it’s a fabulous kitchen to cook in.
There is lots of cupboard and bench space, plenty of pots, pans and utensils, decent dinnerware and cutlery, and a huge variety of glassware, including good wine glasses, a large fridge, excellent stove, dishwasher, microwave, toaster, and espresso machine. There’s a table for four that would be just fine for a casual dinner party too.
The owners also provides a spice rack, olive oil and balsamic, and some breakfast supplies – muesli, bread, butter, jams, milk, tea and coffee to get you started, plus there was a bottle of sparking wine awaiting us. Given the day we’d had, we drank it before going out to dinner.
Opposite the kitchen, the bedroom is spacious with enough room to spread out and open our bags, which is not always the case. The bed was comfy with good quality linen, and during the day, the bedroom, like the whole apartment, was filled with light, which was lovely.
The bathroom is also spacious with a bathtub-shower, plenty of bench space, and a washing machine. The bathtub-shower didn’t work so well as a shower, the curtain clinging to you like a two-year-old while you struggled to shower. There are loads of storage cupboards in the hallway too if you’re planning on settling in for a while. And also in the hallway are shelves with a good selection of books on the neighbourhood, Berlin, the Wall, and street art.
The living room boasts a good television and a stereo system with DVD player and iPod docking station. It’s very stylish but the sofa wasn’t inviting enough to curl up on and watch movies – but that’s certainly not a complaint most visitors would have considering the excellent location and teh bars and restaurant in the area.
More visually interesting than a DVD, was the balcony off the living room with views of the gorgeous buildings opposite and the entire street, which is always entertaining. You could almost look into the restaurants opposite to see when they have a table so you know when to head downstairs!
The neighbourhood of Prenslauer Berg is brilliant. Once a lot more edgy and alternative, it’s still quite bohemian, it’s just the hipsters have grown up and had babies – much to the chagrin of some of the local population. Fact is, you’ll see as many young parents pushing posh prams on the wide footpaths, as you will cool kids riding bikes.
Dotted with vintage clothes and furniture shops, interesting boutiques owned by young local designers, record stores and design stores, and scores and scores of restaurants, cafés, bars, and beer gardens, the ’hood has a bit of an East Village feel to it, only it’s more interesting in our opinion.
Vibrant murals and street art decorate some of the buildings and on the weekend there’s a busy flea market on nearby Mauerpark, where the Berlin Wall used to stand, but more on that in another post…