Hip fleas infest Maybachufer
When the "Nowkoelln Flowmarkt" on the banks of the Spree in northern Neukölln (NoNeu-Ko?) made its debut, several blogs made fun of its Denglish, hippy-ish name (Buddhist beliefs are rumoured to be widespread amongst the organising team) and launched into tirades about gentrification and how it was a foretaste of horrors to come: Prenzlauer-Berg-ization and, God forbid, parents and kids. The Flohmarkt's opening last month certainly showed it to be a hipster market – a mini Mauerpark without the park, if you like. There were arty bands, curry from the Kreuzberg Jamaican restaurant Rosa Caleta, organic beer, families of dancing children and their jointsmoking parents… There goes the neighbourhood! Despite iffy weather, thousands of visitors "flowed" through the single corridor of 100 stalls along the Landwehrkanal, browsing through second-hand hipster paraphernalia, hand-made wares from cushions to cake to jewellery, and the occasional designer item. There's no doubt markets like these are good for the neighbourhood economy: the surrounding bars and ice-cream parlours were cashing in on the spillover. And with the weekly Turkish market, the monthly Sideseeing fashion and design market, and now this monthly flea market, Maybachufer is becoming quite the avenue of commerce.
NOWKOELLN FLOWMARKT, June 20 (every third Sunday) | Maybachufer, Neukölln, U-Bhf Schönleinstr., www.nowkoelln.de
Soho in NoTo
There's something fundamentally un-Berlin about a private members' club. From Marx and Liebknecht, from Red Rosa to Red Army, from National to Soviet Socialism, from Bundeswehr deserters to punks to modern-day nihilists, from yesterday's Lumpenproletariat to today's hungry artists, Berlin has always prided itself on its special brand of underdog rebelliousness, rooted in a strong disdain of for the upper classes and special belief in grassroots communal equality. So here's another sign of our changing times. After London, New York and Hollywood, and just before Miami, Berlin's launching its own special club for special people – in the “creative industries”. Since we are in Berlin, there had to be a special twist: Soho House has taken over the huge former Bauhaus building on the corner of Torstraße and Prenzlauer Allee. Built as a department store in 1928 by a Jewish businessman, it was seized by the Nazis and became the headquarters of the Hitler Youth. After the war, it was used by the Communist Party of Germany to house its archives. Soho House has restored a certain pre-war flair, mixed with resolutely Berlin touches: raw walls, industrial elements - the reception area, made of scaffolding, resembles the front desk of a Berlin night club. Take the lift to the upper floors, though, and you'll be transported to the cushy world of a gentleman's club, complete with nostalgic references to the Empire: a pith helmet fashioned out of wood, flowery chesterfields, uniformed waiters. For €75 per month, members have access to a state-of-the-art gym; the “Cowshed” spa, which boasts a large hamam; lounges; a “Politbüro” event space; restaurants; and, best of all, a rooftop terrace with a fabulous view of Mitte and the vast Plattenbau blocks around Alexanderplatz – gritty chic indeed. One imagines sundown gin and tonics with one's fellow media executives; shoes off, with feet in the small heated pool. Just think... For the price of a gym membership at one of the city's top health clubs, you get the chance to hobnob with the 800-plus members who have already signed up to elevate themselves above Berlin plebeian realities. You don't have to be a member to stay at the hotel. With only 40 well-designed, retro-funky rooms starting at around €100 per night, it's quite a bargain for Mitte these days. Even the amazing, immense “Extra Large” room, reminiscent of a 1940s Hollywood movie set, feels like a dream deal at €400 per night!
Soho House | Torstr. 1, Mitte, U-Bhf Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Tel 030 4050 440, www.sohohouseberlin.com
Jail: a lifestyle choice
What follows a bad run-in with die Polizei? Well, jail, of course. Which can be a bummer – unless you're one of the (probably many) Berliners who get a kick out of that kind of thing. There's no need for a “Get Out of Jail Free” card with the Jailhouse Fuck bed by Noodles Noodles & Noodles: this natural-steel prison-bar-style bed frame comes complete with a pair of Smith & Wesson handcuffs for the naughty. Noodles Noodles & Noodles coyly claims the bed is aimed at the design-minded rather than the S & M-obsessed, but co-creator Kristyan Geyr's promo shots of nubile women in masks and fishnets have “Venus in Furs” written all over them. Lady Gaga would love it. The company, founded 20 years ago by Geyr, Wolfgang Ahlers and André Reitemeyer, has taken the industrial chic of the original Jailhouse Fuck bed and applied it to lockers, shelves, tables and other pieces of extremely solid mostly-steel made furniture made with simple restraint. Its showroom also showcases Geyr's photography on flatscreen monitors: shopping is indeed an experience.
NOODLES NOODLES & NOODLES | Schönhauser Allee 156, Prenzlauer Berg, U-Bhf Senefelderplatz, Tel 0163 2524 249, Mon-Fri 12-20, Sat 12-16, www.noodles.de