A guide to Berlin through the eyes of an artist

Live Like A Local: an artist’s take on Berlin | Soho House

Artist and Soho House Berlin member Esra Gülmen takes us on a curated tour through the German capital

Tuesday 21 March 2023   By Soho House   Photography by Firat Gürgen and Mert Terliksiz

Berlin’s creative scene is legendary, so who better to take us inside the city than local Turkish artist, Esra Gülmen? She worked as a designer and creative director for more than 10 years before pursuing art full time (she’s represented by Pilevneli gallery in Istanbul), and her work plays with icons and typography to ask questions about how we feel inside, while shining a light on difficult topics – always with a sense of humour. 

Gülmen’s work is full of contrast and contradictions – much like the city she now calls home. To illustrate her playful approach, her guide to Berlin includes two options: one more understated (‘low’); the other more upmarket (‘high’). 

It’s a great introduction to both the artist and the city – and with Gallery Weekend Berlin coming up in April, she has a full list of recommendations to keep you busy.

Live Like A Local: an artist’s take on Berlin | Soho House
Live Like A Local: an artist’s take on Berlin | Soho House

Voo Store

Eat at…

Low: ‘My favourite Turkish place has to be Mercan. My order: köfte, with rice, salad and potatoes (always followed by tea – that’s very important).’

High: ‘Paris Bar is the most iconic place in the West. An institution, it’s perfect for sitting outside in summer for a brasserie feel. The inside is full of artwork and has a vibrant energy. Oysters and onion soup are top.’

Drinks at…

Low: ‘A Kreuzberg classic, Würgeengel is where the vibe is very much cool artsy kids meets old literature guys meets people from the fashion world. It’s always fun and never gets old.’ 

High: ‘Natural wine bars are the big craze in Berlin at the moment (you’ll find many in Kreuzberg and Neukölln). But Rocket Wine in Mitte is a true gem with great service and excellent recommendations. It’s also good for small snacks or to pick up a bottle to take home.’ 

Clubbing at…

Low: ‘Yes, it’s Berghain. You’ve probably heard about it, but you have to try it for yourself; whatever I’ll tell you it might not be like that for you. Go and recharge with a juice from The Juicery the next day – you’ll most likely need it.’ 

High: ‘808 is a fun place, especially if you’re into music that isn’t techno. It has a different vibe than you would expect from Berlin. I’m a big fan of hip-hop music, and once I got to see Skepta here, which was super fun.’ 

Shopping at…

Low: ‘Arkonaplatz flea market is a true flea market: affordable prices, unique finds and great snacks in between.’

High: ‘My go-to for last-minute presents or browsing through cool stuff is Voo Store. It’s very well curated – they even have a wine collaboration with Nature’s Calling – so there’s something for everyone. (P.S. Watch out for their sale...).’ 

‘I also recommend Modulor for artists’ supplies and more; Café Fleury for the best French cakes on a packed terrace – nothing beats sitting on Weinbergsweg in summer; and Aera, my favourite gluten-free bakery, which also happens to make the meanest grilled cheese sandwich in town.’

Live Like A Local: an artist’s take on Berlin | Soho House

Paris Bar

Live Like A Local: an artist’s take on Berlin | Soho House


Gallery hopping 

‘Berlin’s gallery scene is legendary, and while that makes it worth the visit any time, during Gallery Weekend (Friday 28 to Sunday 30 April) it’s at another level again. If you’re around, come and hang out with me at the following places.’

In Mitte

‘Grab a drink at Bar 3 and some top-notch sushi at San, then head to these galleries for a showcase of the best local and international artists.’

Nagel Draxler

Eigen + Art

Sprüth Magers

Boros Collection

Schinkel Pavillon

KW Institute for Contemporary Art

Dittrich & Schlechtriem

In Schöneberg 

‘These galleries are all connected and great for contemporary art. The architecture is stunning and you can spend a whole afternoon just looking at art. 

‘For Gallery Weekend, they have an open bar and grill in the backyard – Aperol season is officially here. Then afterwards, head to Andreas Murkudis. This store is an adult playground – great for looking at beautiful objects, finding your new signature scent or indie literature.’

Esther Schipper

Max Hetzler

Galerie Judin

Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi

Visiting the German capital this year? Book your stay at Soho House Berlin. 

Live Like A Local: an artist’s take on Berlin | Soho House

Rocket Wine

Live Like A Local: an artist’s take on Berlin | Soho House

Andreas Murkudis

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