Business travel expert Mark Frary's travel guide to Berlin. Need a great value hotel? Want to know the city's movers and shakers on Twitter? Looking for ways to spend your down-time in Berlin

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In the early 21st century, Berlin regained its place as an international powerhouse after three decades of partition by its infamous Cold War wall. Now, the city is abuzz. Tokyo's Institute for Urban Strategies ranks Berlin at eighth in the world in its Global Power City Index based on economy, R&D, cultural interaction, liveability, environment and accessibility.

In the early 21st century, Berlin regained its place as an international powerhouse after three decades of partition by its infamous Cold War wall. Now, the city is abuzz. Tokyo's Institute for Urban Strategies ranks Berlin at eighth in the world in its Global Power City Index based on economy, R&D, cultural interaction, liveability, environment and accessibility.

Wall-exhibit-Potsdamer-Platz

It is in new areas, rather than traditional industries, that Berlin is making its mark. In 2011, there were more new start-ups in the Berlin region than in any other part of Germany; low rents and a technically-savvy workforce have made it the place to set up shop. Creative music sharing community SoundCloud is the best known Berlin start-up but The Football App and 6Wunderkinder have both recently received substantial VC money. Berlin is also particularly strong in Germany's environmental sector - there are more than 500 green companies based in the city, employing more than 5% of the city's workers.

Express Essentials

Berlin currently has two major airports (Tegel and Schönefeld) although the new Berlin Brandenburg Willy Brandt airport will eventually replace both in the next few years. All current Heathrow services operate to Tegel, five miles north-west of Berlin city centre. There is no airport rail service so most business travellers take taxis, around €20 to €25 to the city centre. There is also a 30-minute TXL JetExpress bus to Alexanderplatz which costs approximately  €2.60.

Berlin has excellent public transport. A day ticket to get around the two central zones by bus, overland S-Bahn and underground U-Bahn trains costs approximately  €6.70. Hundreds of kilometres of cycle paths make Berlin ideal for exploring by bike – hire one for €10 a day.

One of the hottest hotel openings for 2014 is the 25hours Hotel Bikini Berlin, part of a refurbished 1950s avantgarde building known for its shapely curves (hence the name bikini). Half of the rooms overlook Berlin Zoo’s ape house and elephant enclosure. Guests can also borrow a Mini Cooper or bike to get around (subject to availability). Rooms start at €115 a night. Budget business travellers don't have to miss out on style either. Motel One has several budget design hotels in the city.

Berlin-Skyline

Culture Shot

If you are attending a trade fair or conference at Messe Berlin and have a spare hour between meetings, whizz up the Funkturm, a 1920s radio tower offering great views of the city from its viewing platform. Open every day from 10am to 11pm (8pm on Mondays).

You could also escape from the conference centre and take a breather in the Grünewald, Berlin's largest green space. Here you can walk through the forest, see the abandoned US spy station on Teufelsberg or stroll the banks of the Havel river.

Grunewald

If you are in the city centre, spare some time for a quick visit to the Bauhaus Museum, a collection of work from one of the most important art and design schools of the 20th century. Or, for an idea of what the Cold War was like in the city, pop by the Palace of Tears, Traenenpalast at Reichstagufer 17, a former border crossing between West and East.

Bauhaus

The Black Book

Cafe Sankt Oberholz at Rosenthaler Straße 72a is the place for business travellers who believe the world is their office. Here you can grab a latte and all-you-can-eat free WiFi. It also has great views over Rosenthaler Platz for people-watching. "The street food scene has been growing apace," says Paul Sullivan of Slow Travel Berlin, a blog on creative arts, history, architecture and sustainability in the city. "Supper clubs have long been popular but there are more and more pop up events touting everything from gourmet burgers to tacos and organic fish and chips." The trendy Kreuzberg (or X-Berg) district is home to street food at Markthalle Neun on Thursdays and on alternate Fridays at Bite Club, www.biteclub.de at a great location by the river.

Cafe Sankt Oberholz

Berlin is Europe's clubbing capital. White Trash Fast Food at Schönhauser Allee 6-7 is a departure from the usual diet of techno found in the city. This club cum tattoo shop cum burger joint offers a cocktail of rockabilly, punk, R&B and indie rock.

White Trash Fast Food

Berlin's gay scene is legendary in Europe and many of the best bars are around Schöneberg, near Berlin's giant department store KaDeWe. Grab a last-minute gift from Kreuzberg eco-shop Schöner wärs wenns schöner wär (or SWWSW for short), located at Moritzplatz. It sells gifts, homeware, clothes and more that are fairtrade, organic, sustainably produced or all three.

Business Insiders

Follow these influencers to get a local's eye view of Berlin:

  • Joerg Rheinboldt, early stage tech investor and CEO of Axel Springer Plug and Play, @joerg
  • Moritz Möller, manager of Instagramers Berlin
  • Mary Scherpe, blogger at www.stilinberlin.de, a fashion and style blog about Berlin, @m_ariii
  • Paul Sullivan, blogger at Slow Travel Berlin, a slow guide to the city – www.slowtravelberlin.com, @slowberlin

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