Western mall-ternative

Bikini Berlin finally opened, but does its nomenclature translate into sexy, cool and a very Berlin shopping experience? Or is it just another in the long Boulevard of Broken Lifestyle Schemes?

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Photo by Michal Andrysiak

When Bayerische Hausbau began construction in 2010 on the Bikinihaus, a former 1950s textile centre, it was heralded as the revival of City West.

The firm promised to thoughtfully revamp the long, striking structure, nicknamed “bikini” for its two-tiered shape, into a shiny new “concept mall”, which would accompany a design hotel as well as the updated Zoo Palast and Bahnhof Zoo.

On April 3, crowds poured into Bikini Berlin to see if it lived up to the hype. The verdict? This is one stylish space, more reminiscent of London than Berlin. Exposed lighting fixtures, bare wood and industrial touches give the interior a modern vibe, topped off by an undulating rooftop terrace.

As promised, Bikini offers an eclectic collection of stores, as well as 19 permanent wooden cage-like structures for pop-ups, a handful of cafés and several gallery-esque spaces. You’ll find unique if pricey local gems alongside a smattering of generic chains like Vans and Jim Block, an offshoot of steak franchise Block House whose “no competitors” clause is rumoured to be responsible for the ousting of food truck Burger de Ville – so long to Black Angus patties served out of a charming Airstream; hello to €8 for glorified McDonald’s fare.

Still, you have to give them credit: a Berlin mall without an H&M?! And if you can survive the weekend queues, there’s no better post-shopping indulgence than the rooftop Monkey Bar at the 25Hours Hotel Bikini Berlin, where you can drink tikis with a truly spectacular view of the zoo’s primates… or simply relax in the fur-lined hammock hanging in the third-floor lobby.