24-hour Berlin

In Berlin, one can party all night. But it’s not that easy to shop, eat or get a haircut past business hours. Conor O’Rourke tracked down the city’s best after-hours offerings to accommodate his noctambulous schedule.

Image for 24-hour Berlin
Photos by Sigrid Malmgren

In Berlin, one can party all night. But it’s not that easy to shop, eat or get a haircut past business hours. Conor O’Rourke tracked down the city’s best after-hours offerings to accommodate his noctambulous schedule.

21:00 Just out of bed, I head to Kaiserschnitt (Wühlischstr. 34, Friedrichshain, Mon-Thu 11-20, Fri, 11-22, Sat 11-16) for that overdue trim. Granny-chill vibe and a five-minute skull rub: the perfect way to spiff up before an all-nighter.

21:48 On to the Liquidrom (Möckernstr. 10, Kreuzberg, Sun-Thu 10-24, Fri-Sat 10-1) to redeem my gift certificate for a well-deserved Balinese herbal ball massage – compliments of my (biological!) sugar daddy. Where else am I going to drum up the €19.50 entrance + €70 massage fee to get a taste of that Berlinmade wellness luxury? Live harp music is following me from the changing rooms to the Himalayan Salt sauna to the thermal bath, (where the hell is the harpist hiding?). Only escape? Leave!

23:05 I suddenly remember the deadline for that playwrighting contest is today! I swing by a Späti where they recently installed a mini all-hours post office (Adalbertstr. 97, Kreuzberg, 24h), to get my kick-ass manuscript post-dated and sent on time.

23:31 Drop in at Dussmann’s English Bookshop (Friedrichstr. 90, Mitte, daily 10-24) for that new David Foster Wallace, though I’m never sure about novels composed posthumously. As I revel in the serene company of books, a small blonde with a Midwestern accent strikes up a conversation; it turns out it’s Frau Dussmann herself, a fellow Missourian night owl and queen of a corporate empire! I invite her to join me for a pack of Tyrrell’s salt & vinegar crisps and a hip’n’healthy smoothie at Fresh’n’Friends (Kastanienallee 26, Prenzlauer Berg, 24h)? She declines, but I’m hungry.

00:04 So I head to my usual all-night eatery Schwarzes Café (Kantstr. 48, Charlottenburg, 24h), where I order the gnocchi with rocket, bacon, and parmesan, plus a Ghanaian Dju Dju banana beer (don’t knock it till you try it). I try to chill out to one of the owner’s 900 home-recorded tape mixes, but those drunken students upstairs are giving me a headache, so I make a run for some Kopfschmerzen tablets.

1:28 The Hauptbahnhof, Europe’s busiest Kreuzungsbahnhof, is strikingly idle and silent. With only the Deutsche Bahn Service Point to keep it company, the light from the Hauptbahnhof-Apotheke (24h) shines lonesomely out into the dark shop fronts of level 1. Five hundred square meters of Apotheke yawn before me as I make my way past 1400 varieties of toothpaste, makeup and travel-sized paraphanelia. The (Englishspeaking!) pharmacist convinces me that Heuschnupfen tablets will do the trick, blaming my pounding head and running nose on birch pollen. Now I’m ready for a good workout.

1:46 McFit (Berliner Str. 148, Schöneberg, 24h) is a whole different animal at this time of night. The sculpted, informed trainers have ceded their positions to a balding, bored and somewhat chubby security guard-type. On the TV screens, the Klitschko brothers grunt and strain, their usual enthusiasm a stark contrast to tonight’s somber procrastinators chugging away on the elliptical machines.

3:11 Shit, It’s Jessi’s birthday! We’re supposed to meet at Görlitzer Park for a late-night grill party. Luckily, there’s that 24/7 Russian supermarket in Charlottenburg (Rossia, Stuttgarter Platz 36, 24h) to pick up some comestibles. I’ve been told there are 24-hour Edekas in Wilmersdorf and Lankwitz, but this one’s also open Sundays. I make my way past racks of oversized tomatoes and pickled veggies to reach for a pack of tortillas, shashlik meat, a sample-pack of salted fish and plenty of Russian Baltika beer to wash it all down! I drop by the adjoining all-night Café Rossia to do a double shot of vodka for the road at the bargain price of €3!

3:29 Quick stop at Blumen Dilek (Oranienstr. 177, Kreuzberg, 24h) to pick up some tulips for the birthday girl. I’m a romantic (and a little drunk).

3:42 On my way into the park, I pick up a grill and charcoal at the Shell Station (Skalizer Str. 48, Kreuzberg, 24h) across the street from always-bustling Hühnerhaus. The attendant can’t fit it through the window and the security shield, so he courageously comes out the back door to give it to me. We set up in the middle of die Kuhle, the crater-shaped depression in the middle of the park. The punky dog owners are around – do they ever leave?

5:17 Jessi’s dog ate my Heuschnupfen medicine! Time for an emergency taxi ride to Berlin’s one and only 24-hour veterinary practice in Reinickendorf (Tierarztpraxis Rödiger, Scharnweberstr. 136)!

6:00 Fido gets his stomach pumped, and Jessi and I decide we should get ours stuffed. Back to Mitte for early breakfast. We decide to split a “pastrama” (Chicken! – Jessi doesn’t eat mammals) and cream cheese omelet, and potato sandwiches at Luigi Zuckermann Deli (Rosenthaler Str. 67, Mitte, weekends 24h)

8:58 Jessi’s dog is returned to us, hungry and confused but otherwise unhurt. The rest of Berlin is opening for business, and it’s finally time to go home.