Paul Sullivan profiles Prenzlauer Berg’s original ‘living room’ hangout…
Wohnzimmer means ‘living room’ in German, which gives you an inkling of the ethos behind Helmholtzplatz’s veteran hangout. Kitted out with DDR era armchairs, mirrors and faux-Renaissance sofas culled from flea markets, theatres and even, rumour has it, a castle, the venue exudes an aura of cosy homeliness.
The building that hosts it dates back at least a century and has always been a traditional German Eck Kneipe (corner pub), though the wooden bar fittings and general decor hark back to communist times.
Wohnzimmer attracts a broad array of creatives and hipsters, locals, tourists and mums (this is family-centric Helmholtzplatz after all). It’s a splendid place for an intimate chat over a coffee in the daytime or a couple of beers in the evening.
During the day the music never gets overly loud, making it a good choice if you’re looking for somewhere to relax with a good book. Chances are you won’t be the only one chilling on a chaise longue and dipping into a novel. Tip: if you really want some peace and quiet, duck behind those sliding doors at the back of the main room to find an even more secluded area.
The space out back (smoking permitted) is equally homey, if deliberately scruffier, with tattered walls, original fixtures like a bathroom sink and mirror and a miscellany of chairs and tables that includes a lesser-spotted Verlobungssofa: an S-shaped, two person ‘courtship’ chair where couples or dates can sit next to each other and face each other at the same time. There’s also a very old fashioned school desk tucked away in one corner that’s a treat to sit at.
Throughout the day coffees, beers and a limited menu of cakes, soups and sandwiches are offered (all self service). Wohnzimmer generally gets very busy at the weekends and even quite loud, but the music is always respectfully kept at sub-conversation levels and despite its popularity and the fabulous drinks served up at the temporary cocktail bar (we recommend the gin and kumquat special)—an aura of bohemian repose prevails. A fine place for a spot of page-turning or a snug tète-à-tète…
See website for opening times and more info