Are these cities London’s coolest capitals? Here’s what locals think

Mesmerising museums, mouthwatering cuisine and magnificent architecture – nothing beats a European city break.

And those in the know will tell you that two cities are competing for the title of coolest on the continent – London and Berlin.

Exploring these capitals as a traveller is a stimulating experience, but to really get to know each metropolis you need a local’s guidance. Thankfully, a stay at a Mercure hotel grants you that insider knowledge, creating a truly authentic experience in each destination.

Keen to discover the cities’ hidden gems? Mercure’s warm and knowledgeable staff are brimming with recommendations, showing you a side of the destination that only its residents have experienced. 

Not only that but each Mercure hotel is designed to reflect and celebrate the city it calls home. 

Discover how London and Berlin are two of Europe's coolest cities. London local James Wan (above), the Food and Beverage Manager at Mercure London Bridge, reveals what makes a trip to the English capital so incredible

Plus, when you plan your city break as early as possible, you can save as much as 25 per cent on your trip with Mercure’s Advance Saver rate, while booking directly at all.com means you’re guaranteed to get the best rate on your stay.

There are hundreds of truly unique hotels to choose from, so where will your next Mercure stay take you?

For some inspiration, here we reveal why London and Berlin are heaven-sent for travel lovers, courtesy of insider knowledge from two locals. 

You’ll feel like a local yourself before your trip comes to an end…

FEEL INSPIRED BY BERLIN

A cosmos of cool: Pop-up beach bars line the riverside

A cosmos of cool, Berlin has long been the destination of choice for creatives, who are lured by its electrifying music venues, edgy fashion and cutting-edge art scene. This contemporary flair combined with the city’s depth of history captivates all who visit.

Get a shot of culture on Museum Island, admiring 19th-century oil paintings at Alte Nationalgalerie, awe-inspiring Byzantine artwork at the Bode-Museum and ancient Greek and Roman artefacts at the Altes Museum. 

For modern art, wander the galleries of Hamburger Bahnhof, an enormous art space within an old railway station.

The city itself is an open-air museum. Go on a street art tour and marvel over the East Side Gallery, an incredible mural-embellished section of the Berlin Wall. More street art awaits on the walls of the RAW Compound, a one-time train repair hub that’s now home to hip eateries and even hipper nightclubs.

Wander around the magical Schloss Charlottenburg, a Prussian palace adorned with Baroque and Rococo decorations

Mercure Berlin Wittenbergplatz lies next to the enormous KaDeWe department store (above), known for its magnificent food hall and concept stores

Go on a street art tour and marvel over the East Side Gallery (above), a section of the Berlin Wall that has been embellished with murals

Immerse yourself in the city’s history at Checkpoint Charlie, the notorious crossing point between East and West Germany during the Cold War era. A must-see is the Brandenburg Gate, a neoclassical monument that’s become a powerful symbol of peace in Berlin.

Or wander around the magical Schloss Charlottenburg, a Prussian palace adorned with Baroque and Rococo decorations. Go for a romantic stroll through Tiergarten, one of the world’s biggest city parks, which is filled with glimmering ponds and pretty tree-lined pathways.

Hungry? Try food from around the world at the Markthalle Neun, a beautifully-preserved 19th-century food hall, ending your visit with a beer from the in-house craft brewery. Or why not head to one of the pop-up beach bars along the riverside where you can get to know the locals as the sun goes down.

There’s truly something for everyone in Berlin.  

A LOCAL’S GUIDE TO BERLIN – AND WHERE TO STAY IN TOWN

WHERE TO STAY: To experience the city as a local, make your base one of Mercure’s hotels across the city, such as the stylish Mercure Berlin Wittenbergplatz. A four-star hotel in the trendy City West neighbourhood, its decor is inspired by Berlin’s distinctive fashion scene.

Channelling Berlin’s innate coolness, its imaginative lobby and chic bedrooms have been dreamt up by German design firm Kitzig Design Studios.

The building offers views of Wittenbergplatz, an iconic 19th-century square that comes to life with bustling market stalls each week. 

Staff can arrange bike rental so you can explore the city on wheels, or simply take it easy for the evening and sip on German Riesling at the hotel’s sophisticated bar.

However you choose to spend your time, a stay at Mercure Berlin Wittenbergplatz will ensure you’re fully immersed in all this fantastic city has to offer.

EXPERIENCE BERLIN THROUGH A LOCAL 

Berlin local Zakaria Hachem, the Front Desk Shift Leader at Mercure Berlin Wittenbergplatz, has all the best insider tips for a visit to Berlin

Berlin local Zakaria (Zack) Hachem, the Front Desk Shift Leader at Mercure Berlin Wittenbergplatz, has all the best insider tips. As the hotel lies just a few minutes from his apartment, he knows the area like the back of his hand.

As a local, what makes the setting so special?

It’s amazing to live here. Our hotel is located in the heart of Berlin and the centre of the historic City West area, with excellent public transport links giving you access to different areas of the city within a 30-minute train ride. For me, this is the best area in Berlin because it has everything you’re looking for.

Our hotel is perfect for people interested in shopping and fashion, as we’re right next to the famous KaDeWe department store. It has all the shops and brands that you want and need, in one big building.

The local area is famous and is well known as the shopping district because of the KaDeWe and many luxury shops on the nearby Kurfürstendamm – which is lined with restaurants and shops.

Our hotel is perfect for people interested in shopping and fashion, as we’re right next to the famous KaDeWe department store 

We’re only a few minutes away from the gay district – Schöneberg – where there are lots of bars, clubs and shops.

The zoo and the Theater des Westens, a theatre for musicals and operas, are only a few minutes away.

The Memorial Church (Gedächtniskirche) is a striking landmark and it is also only three minutes away. Another great place to visit is the ‘Thaimarkt’ in the Preubenpark, which is an Asian street food market that only happens once a week. And there’s Viktoria-Luise-Platz park, which is more for locals – there are always families there.

To the south of the hotel, there are beautiful squares with beautiful, old buildings waiting to be explored.

The city offers a wide range of events, some of which take place right next to the hotel. And Berlin, in general, is also very famous for its Christmas markets. An old German tradition, there are over 80 spread out all over the city.

How do Mercure guests get to see an authentic side of the city?

Personally, I give our guests recommendations for things that a typical tourist doesn’t do, such as local shops and restaurants that are away from the main streets. I have lots of tips for sightseeing tours, local bars and parks for guests because I live near here. I think guests want to avoid the usual tourist traps and instead experience the city as a local would.

Each Mercure has its own style and is based on the local city. This Mercure hotel is completely unique because it was inspired by the local shopping streets and by KaDeWe in particular because it is located exactly next to it. It’s known for its design, that’s what makes it special.

'I think guests want to avoid the usual tourist traps and instead experience the city as a local would,' says Zakaria

The moment a guest arrives at the hotel they immediately take their phone out to take pictures because it’s different. It’s designed in a unique style, a hip style even, but still has a classic touch to it.

As a token of our appreciation, our most loyal regulars (ALL members) receive regional products as welcome gifts in their rooms. Sometimes it’s sweet things, sometimes drinks, and sometimes honey from the bees that live in a hive on the roof of our hotel.

What do you think makes Mercure Hotels so unique?

It’s a place where you can ‘come as you are’. You don’t have to put on a suit and tie, you can keep your earrings, keep your tattoos, and just be your normal self. 

And being a fashion lover myself, I fit in perfectly in this hotel. I can be who I am.

  • Get to know the real Berlin and book your Mercure stay with the best price guaranteed at all.com.

LIVE IT UP IN LONDON

A fashion capital, a cultural melting pot and a history-laden hub with Roman-era roots – London is all of this and more.

Start your tour of the city with a stroll along the Southbank, pausing to admire the blockbuster landmarks dotted along the Thames. Marvel over the newly renovated Big Ben, the stately Palace of Westminster and Shakespeare’s olde-worlde Globe Theatre. Take a spin in the London Eye, enjoying a bird’s eye view of the city from a 135m-high vantage point.

This riverside stretch will take you to the Tate Modern, a vast former power station that’s known as one of the world’s best contemporary art museums.

More mesmerising museums await. Step into the Gothic edifice that is the Natural History Museum and you’ll discover a world of dinosaurs and precious gems. Or tour the treasure trove Victoria and Albert Museum, home to a head-spinning volume of decorative arts pieces from every corner of the world.

Mercure London Bridge is set near the hustling and bustling Borough Market (above), where you'll find stalls selling mouthwatering - and frequently quite Instagrammable - dishes for takeaway

The Tate Modern, a vast former power station that¿s known as one of the world¿s best contemporary art museums, lies five minutes from Mercure London Bridge

London’s parks are emerald jewels in the city’s crown. Smell the roses – a collection of thousands – at Queen Mary’s Rose Gardens or watch the sunset from atop pretty Primrose Hill.

Consider yourself a foodie? Prepare for a feast. 

Scour stalls selling mouthwatering – and frequently quite Instagrammable – dishes at the bustling Borough Market. Tuck into mouthwatering Caribbean food in Brixton or try the legendary bagels of Brick Lane. Soak up London’s legendary pub culture with a Sunday roast in one of the inviting, lamplit taverns dotted around the city.

By night, catch a jazz gig in Soho or head to The Royal Albert Hall for an evening of heart-soaring classical music. Prefer your entertainment with a touch of theatrics? Pick up tickets for a West End performance and dine out on the world-class vocals, choreography and set design.

A LOCAL’S GUIDE TO LONDON – AND WHERE TO STAY IN TOWN 

WHERE TO STAY: There are several ideally-located Mercure hotels for travellers that are seeking an authentic experience of London, but one standout option is Mercure London Bridge, set in the culture-hub of Southwark.

Order local London gins – or cocktails by award-winning mixologists – from the extensive menu at The Loft Bar, a sleek space with comfy armchairs and mood lighting.

Or enjoy food inspired by the culinary concoctions of one of Britain’s most revered chefs, Marco Pierre White, at the Marco’s New York Italian restaurant.

And why not let off some steam in the well-equipped gym? 

A sound night’s sleep is guaranteed in the tasteful, soundproofed rooms and hearty English breakfasts are served each morning to fuel days of sightseeing. 

EXPERIENCE LONDON THROUGH A LOCAL

'We pride ourselves on giving our guests the best London experience,' says Wan

London local James Wan, the Food and Beverage Manager at Mercure London Bridge, reveals what makes a trip to the English capital so incredible – and why staying with Mercure will enhance it. As he lives just 10 minutes from the hotel, he knows the area inside out.

As a local, what makes the location so special?

We are in the centre of all major tourist spots – 20 minutes walk from the London Eye, five minutes from the Tate Modern and 10 minutes from Borough Market. Guests love the closeness to all the main attractions. Walk a few minutes either east or west and you’ll be enriched in the local culture.

There is a lot of modernisation here, yet the old attractions remain – for example, there’s Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre or The Anchor, a pub by the river that was built in the 1600s and still stands strong.

As for something new and exciting, the nearby street food and music venue Flat Iron Square was refurbished not long ago. It has great outdoor space and many food and drink stalls. It’s perfect for a warm summer’s day.

Something only locals would know to experience here?

The best pubs!

How do Mercure guests get to see an authentic side of the city?

You'll feel like a local with a stay at Mercure London Bridge, which is set in the heart of the culture-hub Southwark district

We pride ourselves on giving our guests the best London experience. We recommend all of the good places to go, all the local drinks to try and the local food we have – we’re always offering recommendations to the guests.

Every Mercure hotel you go to is different. Our lobby design is very special and unique in that it’s themed around London. A special artist came into the hotel and made beautiful chalk drawings of the local attractions on the walls. There are also London-themed souvenirs for sale. Our lobby feels like a living room – we want everybody to feel like they’re coming back home and to feel comfortable.

What do you think makes Mercure Hotels so special?

Mercure has a local approach, which everyone appreciates when they travel. I am totally for the idea of living or travelling like a local, it’s what I do when I am on holiday! I hate going to the most touristic places and want to live and breathe like a local during my time in a destination. Mercure hotels live by this and enhance the guest experience through localised knowledge that can be shared with all.

  • Get to know the real London and book your Mercure stay with the best price guaranteed at all.com.

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