The 10 Best Guide to the Most Useful Department Stores in Berlin
By Ryan Kalb
Berlin Local Expert
On par with London, Milan, and Paris, Berlin has emerged as one of the world’s most stylish cities, successfully juxtaposing a tendency for the avant-garde with contemporary cuts by big-name designers. Indeed, Berlin is now a mainstay on the circuit joining its other Western European capitals. Accordingly, Berlin's stores have changed their opening hours as a result of this reality. Unlike many other German cities who have a longstanding tradition of painfully short hours on weekdays and even closing outright on Sunday, most department stores in Berlin are open from 9am to 10pm from Monday through Saturday and many department stores even open multiple times per year Sundays. As a time-tested mainstay of the retail world, department stores are perfect one-stop shopping resources. Plus, they deliver reputable brand names and a broad supply of merchandise, from clothing and jewelry to housewares and luggage. Short on time? Hit places like KaDeWe and Galeria Kaufhof for just what you need in Berlin, and don't forget to make a quick circuit for things you didn't know might be necessary. 10Best is here to help you locate the best department stores in Berlin - read on and we'll make it easy to find them.
Naturkaufhaus is Germany's largest provider for the widest range of all-natural goods. They offer pure leather, clothing derives from only the highest quality natural ingredients, natural beauty products, and organic teas, wine, coffees, and chocolate. In addition to these products, there are also goods with Chinese inspiration - a selection of spirtual accessories from decorative lamps, to meditation pillows, and original candles. The sitting and bed area stocks pillows, blankets, and mattresses (also for those with allergies) and ergonomic and body-molding seats and chairs for both the office and at home. Naturkaufhaus is located in the Steglitz neighborhood of Berlin - a buzzing center of shopping that is accessible by both S-Bahn and U-Bahn. (+49-(0)-30-7973-716)
The fact that the Woolworths department stores exist in Berlin was initially surprising; Woolworths was originally a US chain, though none survive anymore in the United States. Nevertheless, a few continue to operate in Germany - and for an American who remembers visiting Woolworths as a child, this shop functions a little trip back in time. If you need a few basics at good prices, Woolworths is the place to go. Inexpensive, little tchochkes comprise the majority of the items here: are you in search of plastic hangers? Combination locks? Stationery basics? Socks? Woolworths has it all. A bit of a time warp, but one I welcome. (030 7877420)
When Hamburg businessman Bernhard Garbe completed the first Stilwerk in Hamburg in 1996, the event marked far more than the opening of a new property: it marked the birth of a visionary concept transformed into reality. The "stilwerk" idea united an array of premium brands representing innovation, modernity, future, partnership and lifestyle under one roof. Stilwerk designates itself as a one-stop-shopping for "interior decor, design, and lifestyle all under one roof." This is indeed an appropriate label, with premium brands located in over 150 stores. Stilwerk offers the best and brightest and most chic brands in contemporary European design; some of the stores located within Stilwerk are Bang & Olufsen, bulthaup, BoConcept, designforum, Francesco Molon, Möve, Nyhues, Siedle, Trollhus, and Zeitlos. The Berlin Stilwerk is located on Kantstraße and is there housed in West Berlin. (+49-(0)-30-3151-5500)
Karstadt is from the same mother company that operates the infamous KaDeWe, but Karstadt is simply not a high-end. This department store chain operates many locations in Berlin and stocks items that are perhaps of better quality than Woolsworths. One can buy a blender, go grocery shopping for the week, and still pick up a suit - all at one location. Many Karstadt locations have multiple other stores located within them, whether they be book stores, beauty supply retailer, post office locations, mobile phone companies and yes, even pet shops! In this way, Karstadt acts as a mini-conglomeration and offers Berliners one-stop-shopping. (+49-(0)-30-3110-50)
6 Galleria Kaufhof
A total renovation by John P Kleihues turned this former GDR-era department store into a retail cube fit for the 21st century, complete with a glass-domed light court and a sleek travertine skin that glows green at night. There's little you won't find on the five football-field-sized floors, including a gourmet supermarket on the ground floor. This large mid-range department store has everything you could possibly want or need: clothing for everyone, toys, electronics, housewares, cosmetics and plenty more. The aforementioned food hall is quite impressive, and well-stocked with fresh baked goods, olive and sushi bars, sweets and chocolates, a deli, exotic imported treats, and wine. Galeria Kaufhof is within easy reach through either the U-Bahn or S-Bahn, as it functions as the downtown of East Berlin. (+49-(0)-30-2474-30)
5 Peek & Cloppenburg
With five floors, Peek & Cloppenburg offers the gamut of contemporary fashion for just about every taste. Elite brands such as Hugo Boss and Max Mara share floor space with boutique labels such as the edgy Drykorn. There are 400 top name-brands to discover for women, men, and children: among them are Tommy Hilfiger, Boss Black, Mexx and Bench. The store also offers good-value basics, including cashmere sweaters and t-shirts. The building itself is worth taking a look at too - it's wrapped in an undulating glass curtain designed by the famous architect Professor Gottfried Böhm. The closest U-Bahn station to Peek & Cloppenburg is located at Wittenbergplatz along the U1 line. (+49-(0)-30-2129-00)
4 Dussmann das Kulturkaufhaus
Dussmanns, located in the heart of Mitte, is probably the biggest bookstore in Berlin Of course, there are music, movies and other pop cultural merchandise here as well. At the back, near the Sphinx, there is a two-storey room that is stacked only with English books. They have a wide variety of selections, and if you want something that isn't in stock, they can order it for you. Fiction is on the first floor, while the second floor has other goodies that can easily make you spend hours here browsing. In the main section, at the third floor, are the travel guides. This is also one section that I can easily spend hours browsing. They have both English and German travel guides side by side, arranged in geographical order. When I had to buy a guidebook, they had one in stock that I purchased. They also have a huge map collection, and it seems that they stock things rather quickly, as the newest editions of Lonely Planet are already available for purchase. If you're lucky, you might even come across the rather talented busker sitting at the front, with his electric piano, plonking away at Beethoven, Bach, or Mozart. (030 20251111)
3 Departmentstore Quartier 206
Despite its close quarters, Departmentstore Quartier 206 holds the distinction of being one of Berlin's most distinguished collections of various name-brand merchandise. High-end fashions for women and men take top billing, but the store also manages to fit in a dizzying array of top-of-the-line personal and home accessories. While being one of the smallest and yet most luxurious shopping centers in town, Department Store Quartier 206 offers primarily the international fashion elite: Yves Saint Laurent, Rive Gauche, Etro, Moschino, Louis Vuitton, Strenesse, and Bottega Venetta are all housed here under one magnificent roof. The closest S-Bahn and U-Bahn are located at Friedrichstrasse. (+49-(0)-30-2094-6800)
2 Galeries Lafayette
In keeping with Berlin's justly-earned rep as a city with a keen sense of style, Galeries Lafayette in Mitte carries elegant, brand-name French designers, as well as expensive perfumes, colognes, shoes, and accessories. They even carry the boutique ones such as agnes b., Sonia Rykiel, and Cacharel. They have a great handbag department, and the gourmet section in the basement never disappoints when it comes to French cuisine. In addition, the department store is known for its fabulous basement floor features gourmet delights like exotic produce, imported wines, premium meats, and other delicacies. The closest U-Bahn is Französische Straße on the U6 line. (+49-(0)-30-2094-80)
Kaufhaus Des Westens, otherwise known as KaDeWe, is Berlin's - and perhaps even Western Europe's - largest and most famous department store. The legendary Kaufhaus des Westens in Charlottenburg is revered for its wide variety - an amazing seven floors worth - of high-end merchandise, ranging from contemporary fashions and cosmetics to best-selling media and kitschy kitchen wares. In addition to great shopping, the store has a delicacies department on the sixth floor that features champagne, wine, and beer bars; a deli; a creperie; and even a sushi bar. The closest U-Bahn stop is at Wittenbergplatz on the U2 line. (+49-(0)-30-2121-0)
About Ryan Kalb
Originally from NYC, Ryan completed his BA at New York University and then promptly abdicated in 2007. Since then, he hasn't looked back. After an inspiring, year-long tour through Southeast Asia while teaching English in Bangkok, Thailand, he moved to Europe. In Berlin, Ryan speaks fluent German and fills his days with translation and English instruction. With an MA in Literature and Cultural Studies, Ryan enjoys Berlin's dynamic nature and claims it's the antithesis of the German cliché. Ryan says that Berlin is electrified by a raw combination of potential and limitlessness rarely encountered in other cosmopolitan cities of the world.
Read more about Ryan Kalb here.