The best of Berlin in February

Exberliner, Berlin's leading English-language magazine, this month picks the best places to strip burlesque style, get your very own personal shopping guide or speak your mind before an audience.

The best of Berlin in February

Berlin’s most decadent Kino

The drinks; the legroom; the gourmet food and the wide, wide leather seats: the Astor Film Lounge may be a cinema, but it offers so many extravagant comforts you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for business class on a transatlantic flight. Or the bar of a fourstar hotel. Housed in one of Berlin’s classic cinemas – the 57-year-old Filmpalast, a protected heritage site, was ‘made over’ for its opening on December 22 – the Astor combines the best of old and new. It provides champagne, a coat check and valet parking alongside state-of-the-art projection equipment and a rather unadventurous selection of recent Hollywood films. The menu ranges from snacks to full meals and features such classy culinary delights as lamb with vegetable couscous, mushroom soup with Gorgonzola and chocolate tart with carmelised orange, all of which are brought directly to your set. The Astor’s prices match its atmosphere of luxury (tickets cost €10 to €15 for matinees and €12.50 to €17 after 16:00) but, well, everyone needs a treat sometimes!

Astor Film Lounge, Kurfürstendamm 225, Charlottenburg, U-Bhf Uhlandstraße, Tel 8838551,

Luxury nomads

Remember that transient, ultra-luxury, über-cutting edge menswear boutique we mentioned last month? The one that plays a cheeky game of hide and seek by changing its address twice a year? Well, this time Darklands has swapped a seedily stylish ex-bordello on Gormannstraße for sleek minimalism on Steinstr. It’s just a few minutes away, but an entirely different experience: welcome, my friends, to Darklands 2.0 – new, improved and, if possible, even more exclusive. Campbell McDougall, who opened his first store Komakino in Vancouver five years ago, relocated to Berlin last summer – and brought with him a series of high-end designer brands like Carol Christian Poell, Julius, Augusta, Lumen et Umbra, MA+ and Goti. Darklands specialises in unique, handcrafted pieces made with innovative techniques, ideas and materials. An item by Carol Christian Poell, McDougall explains, is a piece of conceptual art. And it is priced accordingly: Poell’s clothing sells for €1,200 and up. Perhaps we should just look at the shop as if it were a gallery…

Darklands, Steinstr. 5, Mitte, U-Bhf Weinmeisterstr., Fri-Sun 13:00-19:00,

Comic nerds of the world unite

Come out of that closet where you hide your dusty old Donald Ducks and discover a world beyond Disney, manga and Superman: a universe of GDR comics, tough girl tales, philosophical graphic novels and legitimate dirty mags. At the “Bei Renate” Comicbibliothek, an outgrowth of Berlin’s vibrant post-1989 squat scene, you’ll encounter an assortment of no fewer than 15,000 comic books and related reference works. The bottom line at Bei Renate is that they are a medium in need of protection – no one cares whether comics are visual art or literature, only for children or just someone’s sick habit. A whole wall of the library is devoted to original titles, most of which are in English. The rest are in German, but the combination of text and images makes them an ideal learning aid for those Anglos who finally want to pick up the dang language. Brilliant full length stories by authors like Mawil and Reinhard Kleist will make even the freshest faced expat feel like a true Berliner, while Fil’s local classic Didi & Stulle proves once and for all that the old myth about Germans not having a sense of humour is, well … Nothing but an old myth. Membership costs €2.50, plus another €2.50 for every month you actually borrow books. Visit the website to find out about workshops for kids and adults. Every first Monday of the month is the Stammtisch: have a beer, hang out with the other nerds, trade and talk comics.

“Bei Renate” Comicbibliothek, Tucholskystr. 32, Mitte, S-Bhf Oranienburger Str., Tel 9700 5815/16, Mon-Wed 14-20:00, Fri 14-19:00, Sat 13-18:00,

Click here for more from Berlin’s leading monthly magazine in English.

For members


EXPLAINED: Berlin’s latest Covid rules

In response to rapidly rising Covid-19 infection rates, the Berlin Senate has introduced stricter rules, which came into force on Saturday, November 27th. Here's what you need to know.

A sign in front of a waxing studio in Berlin indicates the rule of the 2G system
A sign in front of a waxing studio indicates the rule of the 2G system with access only for fully vaccinated people and those who can show proof of recovery from Covid-19 as restrictions tighten in Berlin. STEFANIE LOOS / AFP

The Senate agreed on the tougher restrictions on Tuesday, November 23rd with the goal of reducing contacts and mobility, according to State Secretary of Health Martin Matz (SPD).

He explained after the meeting that these measures should slow the increase in Covid-19 infection rates, which was important as “the situation had, unfortunately, deteriorated over the past weeks”, according to media reports.

READ ALSO: Tougher Covid measures needed to stop 100,000 more deaths, warns top German virologist

Essentially, the new rules exclude from much of public life anyone who cannot show proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19. You’ll find more details of how different sectors are affected below.

If you haven’t been vaccinated or recovered (2G – geimpft (vaccinated) or genesen (recovered)) from Covid-19, then you can only go into shops for essential supplies, i.e. food shopping in supermarkets or to drugstores and pharmacies.

Many – but not all – of the rules for shopping are the same as those passed in the neighbouring state of Brandenburg in order to avoid promoting ‘shopping tourism’ with different restrictions in different states.

2G applies here, too, as well as the requirement to wear a mask with most places now no longer accepting a negative test for entry. Only minors are exempt from this requirement.

Sport, culture, clubs
Indoor sports halls will off-limits to anyone who hasn’t  been vaccinated or can’t show proof of recovery from Covid-19. 2G is also in force for cultural events, such as plays and concerts, where there’s also a requirement to wear a mask. 

In places where mask-wearing isn’t possible, such as dance clubs, then a negative test and social distancing are required (capacity is capped at 50 percent of the maximum).

Restaurants, bars, pubs (indoors)
You have to wear a mask in all of these places when you come in, leave or move around. You can only take your mask off while you’re sat down. 2G rules also apply here.

Hotels and other types of accommodation 
Restrictions are tougher here, too, with 2G now in force. This means that unvaccinated people can no longer get a room, even if they have a negative test.

For close-contact services, such as hairdressers and beauticians, it’s up to the service providers themselves to decide whether they require customers to wear masks or a negative test.

Football matches and other large-scale events
Rules have changed here, too. From December 1st, capacity will be limited to 5,000 people plus 50 percent of the total potential stadium or arena capacity. And only those who’ve been vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 will be allowed in. Masks are also compulsory.

For the Olympic Stadium, this means capacity will be capped at 42,000 spectators and 16,000 for the Alte Försterei stadium. 

3G rules – ie vaccinated, recovered or a negative test – still apply on the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, trams and buses in Berlin. It was not possible to tighten restrictions, Matz said, as the regulations were issued at national level.

According to the German Act on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases, people have to wear a surgical mask or an FFP2 mask  on public transport.

Christmas markets
The Senate currently has no plans to cancel the capital’s Christmas markets, some of which have been open since Monday. 

According to Matz, 2G rules apply and wearing a mask is compulsory.

Schools and day-care
Pupils will still have to take Covid tests three times a week and, in classes where there are at least two children who test positive in the rapid antigen tests, then tests should be carried out daily for a week.  

Unlike in Brandenburg, there are currently no plans to move away from face-to-face teaching. The child-friendly ‘lollipop’ Covid tests will be made compulsory in day-care centres and parents will be required to confirm that the tests have been carried out. Day-care staff have to document the results.

What about vaccination centres?
Berlin wants to expand these and set up new ones, according to Matz. A new vaccination centre should open in the Ring centre at the end of the week and 50 soldiers from the German army have been helping at the vaccination centre at the Exhibition Centre each day since last week.

The capacity in the new vaccination centre in the Lindencenter in Lichtenberg is expected to be doubled. There are also additional vaccination appointments so that people can get their jabs more quickly. Currently, all appointments are fully booked well into the new year.