"We are not sauerkraut." So says Henrik Tidefjard of his company, Berlinagenten (berlinagenten.com), which sends travellers and trendsetters into Berlin's raw, hip and happening scenes.
Sure there are the museums and monuments, but the German capital is also a thriving hub for architects, artists and musicians. "In Berlin the creative scene is the industry," says Swedish-born Tidefjard, who lived in London and Barcelona before landing here in 2001. With a cheaper cost of living, no limits on bar hours and a liberal-be-who-you-are-attitude, the cultural finds are constantly evolving – and sometimes behind closed doors.
"It makes you feel like you are constantly a visitor in your own city. It never gets boring," Tidefjard says. Here are his favourite – for the moment – Berlin experiences:
Buck and Breck
"This is a hidden gem in the cocktail scene, where you have to find the door bell to get in. It's called the 14-seat bar because they only let in that many people at a time. The lucky ones get a bar stool in the middle of the dimmed room. They can create any cocktail based on how you're feeling, your favourite destination or profession. And after two or three fancy drinks you've made friends with your neighbours – or fallen off your chair." Brunnenstrasse 177; buckandbreck.com
Soho House Berlin
"If you love to mingle among an international creative elite and inspiring Berliners you should not miss this private-member club. Book a room and you have access to all facilities: cinema, restaurants, rooftop pool, spa and hamam, library and high-tech gym. It's my second living room and getaway where I can chill out and meet new friends over a Soho Mule cocktail." Torstrasse 1; sohohouseberlin.de
La Soupe Populaire
"It felt like I was part of a scavenger hunt when I tried to find this ultra-cool new establishment. This restaurant is tucked away behind raw concrete, rusty pipes and iron doors at the former Botzow brewery and the tasting menu is created by no less than star chef Tim Raue. The menu is based on the restaurant's current exhibition. So a German artist means German cuisine. An American artist means gourmet burgers. Of course they have some classics like konigsberger klopse, a local dish of meatballs, creamy mashed potatoes and beetroot." Prenzlauer Allee 242; lasoupepopulaire.de
"I have brought adventurous travellers and even Madonna's daughter Lourdes to this run-down underground amusement park, where the monsters come to life. Bizarre and outlandish machine creatures sing, dance and perform. Be prepared for a world of arty steel monsters, who makes you laugh, jump and wonder: 'Why would somebody even create this?'" Rosenthaler Strasse 39; monsterkabinett.de
Street Food Thursday
"It's not London's Borough Market, but it's worth a visit if you are a foodie and wish to hang out in Kreuzberg, which has a long history as an area once full of squats, bohemians and punks. It's like the East Village of New York but 20 years ago. At this Thursday evening event, you will find a selection of the best sidewalk delicacies from Berlin and around the world. Over 20 experimental young cooks and chefs offer everything from traditional English pies and Korean kimchi to handmade Allgau cheese noodles and Brandenburg tapas." Markthalle 9; markthalleneun.de/street-food-thursday
This interview has been edited and condensed.