The Gentrification of Berlin
This is not the first time we have seen the process of gentrification take hold. With the ever-increasing wanderlust of the world’s population helped by the continuing evolution of the internet and the subsequent increased availability of travel, it was only a matter of time before millions of tourists (and their wallets) made their mark on Europe’s most vibrant nocturnal city: Berlin.
Visit Berlin at any time of the year and the streets are abuzz with crowds of young adults searching for the next club or the nearest gallery, while perhaps holding a large camera and a cup of black coffee. This may be irritating for locals, made evident by the anti-hipster propaganda that occasionally graces the city’s walls and fences, but it has in fact contributed to a wave of contemporary renovation in Germany’s coolest destination.
Now, the economic benefits of such a surge in tourist popularity has created a city worth visiting not just to dance in Berghain until the late afternoon (though this still remains an option), but also to take a break in a modern, sophisticated and classy environment, “polished up” by the developments in property, public spaces and amenities.
It is true that the gentrification of Berlin is due to tourism and a large influx of relatively well-to-do young people from abroad, which has increased the cost of living for the original city-dwellers, but what is often ignored is the fact that the residents are paying more to live in a cleaner-cut environment. This new wave of affluent migrants has brought with them a demand for higher standards of living, while at the same time maintaining a balance for what persisted prior to their arrival, taking extra measures not to taint Berlin’s preexisting culture.
Berlin has seen hundreds of excellent developments in recent years that are providing travel tastemakers with a new luxury option in this increasingly popular destination. With the recent opening of Europe’s first Waldorf Astoria Hotel, and the world renowned design Hotel Das Stue in 2012, the city is fast becoming a travel must-see with first class accommodation to match. With 25 new hotel openings on the horizon for 2013, Berlin is certainly stepping up to present itself as a high-end haven for all kinds of travelers, with varied scope for sightseeing, partying, shopping and dining in whichever way you choose.
The old and the new seamlessly combine, with traditional coffee-shops such as the family owned Bäckerei Balzer (a quaint and simple tea room with a cult following for its sugar glazed buns) sharing the Spandeur Vorstadt with new modern coffee experts The Barn, each working their own niches to welcome a varied clientele.
Once refueled, shopping in Berlin is always a pleasure with new flagship stores constantly appearing as brands expand throughout the city. This year has already seen the arrival of (Yves) Saint Laurent and Escada flagship stores, joining the likes of Chanel and Louis Vuitton on the famous avenue Kurfürsendamm. Not to mention the German counterpart of Parisian department store Galeries Lafayette, which has long been established as one of Berlin’s top shopping spots, and is now getting the attention that it so richly deserves from an international clientele.
The nightlife in Berlin remains somewhat consistent, despite the changes brought to the city by gentrification. The queues of course may have grown slightly over the years, but it is nice to know that despite the evolution of Berlin into a top class getaway for a more cosmopolitan crowd, you can, if you wish to, still find yourself chasing the sun in some of the best clubs in the world. Yet if you wish to embrace the gentrified German metropolis that is this modern city, once the night is over feel free to head to Restaurant Weinrot in the Savoy hotel for some bespoke service and an exquisite brunch, while surrounded by red velvet décor.
By Lucy Maguire
Image Above: The Waldorf Astoria, Berlin