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Kotti for… Easyjet-setters

Our guide to four parallel universes around Berlin's most loved/hated square.

Image for Kotti for... Easyjet-setters
Hasir. Photo by Maria Runarsdottir

Kottbusser Tor is where the action is! Or at least, that’s what your guidebook told you. Fresh off your discount flight, you’re primed to soak up some real Berlin flavour – and a few litres of tequila.

Image for Kotti for... Easyjet-setters
Illustration by Agate Sasiuk

Your first 10am at Kottbusser Tor hits hard. Necking shots in the 24-hour bar at the Comebackpackers Hostel (Adalbertstr. 97) when the gang crashed here at 5am doesn’t seem so smart now – but after navigating the trains from Schönefeld (“close to the city centre” your arse) and lugging your cases up all those stairs, you deserved a drink. Gotta make the most of your time in Europe’s party capital, right?

Your stomach’s growling, but faced with the dreadlocked backpacker pros in the communal kitchen, you’re not doing the “tourist” thing and hitting up a café. Time to rough it and grab some breakfast bits from the nearest supermarket. Kaisers looks decent. And apparently German groceries are dead cheap. Soon, you conclude this was a vicious lie.

Breakfast over, the lads’ Berlin Takeover begins. First stop? Culture. The hostel guys recommend the free Friedrichschain-Kreuzberg Museum (Adalbertstr. 95A). If you’re gonna pull locals tonight, some research can’t hurt. But the barrage of info on the neighbourhood’s history makes your eyes glaze over – and you’re a little indignant about the part accusing tourists of treating locals like “extras in a film”. To prove your ability to hang with the real Berliners, you contemplate lunch at the currywurst stand across the way but you didn’t make it all the way here to eat on the street. Just up the road, clean-looking Italian joint Paglia (Adalbertstr. 91) seems promising. At €9-10, the pizzas are pricey, but hey: it is gourmet.

Now’s the bit you planned weeks ago, after reading an NYT article on these high-end Niche Art & Architecture Tours (nicheberlin.de). Feeling flash, you promptly emailed demanding the same tour the journalist got, so the afternoon sees you traipsing round the hidden nooks and crannies in the gargantuan Neues Kreuzberger Zentrum housing block framing the northside of Kotti. Sure, €250 is steep, but you’re on holiday… and no price is too high for the likes on these edgy Insta shots.

All showered and Lynxed up, it’s party time. First stop’s Santa Maria (Oranienstr. 170), for Taco Tuesday and €1 tequila shots. Battering your way to the bar, you get suitably sozzled and sweaty before falling back onto the pavement. Happily, there’s a hip-looking place across the street – and you’re soon downing a €7 Gin Fizz in Luzia (Oranienstr. 34) to a backdrop of bare brickwork and peeling wallpaper. Ah, Berlin. You didn’t bring the squad here to stay in one place all night though, so it’s onwards and, er… down the road, to Bar 39 and Tiki Tonga (Oranienstr. 39). Tomorrow you’ll swear these were all the same place. The only difference is the price – Bar 39 does €5.50 mojitos and Tiki Tonga’s got a €4.50 happy hour.

Now you’re itching to hit the clubs. You ask someone where’s good nearby. “Clubbing? You should’ve gone to Warschauer Straße…” he laughs. Oh. Shit. But just before you call it a night, you remember Prinzipal (Oranienstr. 178), a “burlesque bar” you saw on some travel blog. Time for that legendary Berlin debauchery! You finally find the place and ring the doorbell. A suited guy sits you down on a posh leather sofa, and you get your first taste of cocktail prices in double figures… but sadly, no naked ladies. That’s only on Saturdays, you’re informed.

The guidebook says döner was invented at Hasir: could this place be any more authentic? Unfortunately, before you arrive you lose that bet you made about not chundering tonight.

The night’s becoming a blur now, so you sensibly agree on a trip to Hasir (Adalbertstr. 12). The guidebook says döner was invented here: could this place be any more authentic? Unfortunately, before you arrive you lose that bet you made about not chundering tonight. The forfeit? Someone’s taking a €70 trip to Kreuzstich Tattoo (Adalbertstr. 85) tomorrow…

As you stumble back to the hostel, the first signs of sunrise peeking over the horizon,you feel for your wallet and realise it’s missing. A sense of pride overwhelms your aura of gin, döner and vomit. You’ve officially been pickpocketed at Kotti! Just wait till the guys at work hear about this.