Due to the nature of my job there aren’t many cities in Europe I haven’t visited for business or leisure; so it means a lot when I say Berlin is probably in my top five. While you definitely get the vibe of the city as a serious start-up and technology hub, it’s also got a very open culture of communication that’s evident even at the highest corporate levels.
But the most refreshing thing about Berlin is that when it’s pens down there’s a very cool, creative undercurrent that can make a work trip seem just that little more like play.
Getting to Berlin
At around an hour and 40 minutes from the UK by air, I’ve never found getting to and from Berlin for business any hassle. There are a number of airlines that flight direct routes to the city’s two airports, including British Airways from Heathrow and easyJet from Gatwick. With more than 160 flights operating each week you can find one suitable for whatever time of day you need to be there.
Once you land at Berlin Tegel (TXL) or Berlin Schoenefeld (SXF) airports, the easiest and most professional way of getting in to the city is on a prebooked Berlin airport shuttle service with Shuttle Direct. It takes under 40 minutes to reach the city centre and there’ll be no messing around with laptops and luggage on public transport.
The longest I’ve ever had to spend at the airport (TXL) was about three hours, when a flight back to London was delayed due to bad weather, but it did give me a good chance to look around.
Wi-Fi: Free Wi-Fi is available for 60 minutes anywhere in the five terminals. After that time there is a charge. Just connect to “Free Airport WiFi Telekom”.
Facilities: Along with the usual suspects of designer, digital goods and jewellery shops, there are some great bars and restaurants where you can get a decent meal. But my best tip is to head up to the Observation Deck, in Terminal D, where for a couple of Euros you get a great view of all the comings and goings.
Business Lounges: I’m a member of the Lufthansa Business Lounge, so I head straight there (Terminal A), but non-members can also buy a day pass online. There’s also the Airport Club Lounge (Terminal A), to which you can get a day pass at the door or online.
My Favourite Berlin Business Hotel
My go-to place to rest my head in style in Berlin is the Hotel am Steinplatz, Autograph Collection. It’s in the chic Charlottenburg district, so it’s very easy to get around to meetings in the city centre and it’s just a couple of kms from the ICC Exhibition Grounds.
Because it’s boutique, the hotel doesn’t feel like a big impersonal corporate, but its meeting and conference facilities are superb, with two large event rooms (catering to 80) and a number of smaller meeting rooms. They’ve got the latest in conferencing and audio-visual technology and a team of expert planners.
The hotel is very close to countless restaurants, but it’s pretty hard to go past the onsite Restaurant Am Steinplatz for an excellent business lunch or a quiet dinner, and Bar Am Steinplatz is a lovely place for an after-meeting drink to wind down.
A Couple of Others….
If you’re organising large events, the 5-star Ritz-Carlton Berlin is exemplary – with the opulent Grand Ballroom sure to impress delegates. But even for regular business travellers, the luxurious surrounds and superb amenities make it a popular choice.
One of my younger business associates put me on to the Catalonia Berlin Mitte, and I think its super edgy industrial-chic décor is the perfect representation of the city’s creative energy. The rooms are amazingly quiet, it’s right across the road from the Metro and there are two meeting rooms if you’re looking for business facilities on site.
Wining & Dining Your Clients
For my money, Facil, at Potsdamer Straße 3, has just the right ingredients for an important business dinner or lunch (pun intended). With two Michelin stars and set within the most amazing oasis right in the heart of the city, its elegant ambience is ably backed up by the outstanding menu, which is defined by fresh, simple, flavoursome dishes.
Facil offers the perfect location for a discrete business meeting, either inside in the glass-roofed dining room or on the terrace in the warmer weather. If you can’t close a deal here there’s something wrong!
Time to spare….
If you can rustle up some free time in Berlin you’ll be overwhelmed with things to see and do, but if you’ve only got short snippets of time I recommend simply getting out there and making up your own walking tour of the city.
Naturally, you’ll want to accidentally on purpose stumble across the famous Brandenburg Gate, the most iconic landmark of the city. While you’re ogling the magnificent architecture of the gate, however, don’t forget to take in the elegant Pariser Platz as well. The Berlin Wall Memorial is another high-profile site that offers an insight into the city’s turbulent history, with the construction and ultimate destruction of the infamous Berlin Wall.
If you’re looking for a little retail therapy, I highly recommend a visit to the Kurfürstendamm (known colloquially as the Ku’damm), home to some very chi chi shops as well as Europe’s largest department store, KaDeWe. My bank manager does not recommend it as highly as me…
If you’ve got a little more time and really want to cover the culture, head over to the UNESCO-listed Museum Island, which is the site of Berlin’s most important galleries and museums.
About Shuttle Direct:
If you’re doing business anywhere around the UK or Europe, the fastest, most efficient way of getting to and from the airport to meetings, conferences or accommodation is on a pre-booked transfer with Shuttle Direct. If you’re heading to Berlin, make an easy booking online before you leave and choose from Standard, Executive and Premium private car hire. You’ll be met at the airport in a discrete, unbranded vehicle and one of our friendly professional drivers will take you wherever you need to go without delay.